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If Christ Be Our Example - Part 1


Good Morning Beloved,

It is always such an honor and a privilege
to share with you, the Word of God
Thank you for that privilege


Heavenly Father,

Thank You, for entrusting me with this flock
we often envision Christ as our Shepherd
We thank You for blessing us with His example to follow
Father, it has never been more apparent, that we are strangers
and aliens in the world, with each passing day we long to come home
we know we are to submit ourselves to every human institution.
and we are to submit ourselves to our employers, no matter whether they are good
and gentle or cruel and unreasonable, we understand that we are to submit even to
unjust treatment, if need be, in silence, and committing ourselves to You, always the image
of confidence and trust and knowing that light affliction in this life isn't to be compared to
the eternal glory that awaits us, at the end of the path of suffering  Lord, help us to become
as patient and willing to endure, as You have shown us to be, make us faithful to be like You
in Your name we pray.
Amen

"For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. He did no commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds. For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."
I Peter 2:21-25

Today's Message: If Christ Be Our Example

Let's face it, the images of Jesus Christ are many. And if you were to survey various people in our society about what image first comes to mind concerning Jesus Christ, there would likely be a number of them. Some people might see Him as a gentle, loving teacher on a mountainside. Some people would see Him as a compassionate and powerful healer, who could heal the sick and raise the dead. Some people would see Him as a courageous, fiery preacher who got great crowds together and spoke boldly proclaiming the Word of God. Some would even see Him in the temple, turning over the tables in frustration, or perhaps they would see Him as a young boy, confounding the religious leaders in the synagogue. And all of those images of Christ would be, to one degree or another be true, images of Christ.

Beloved, it's safe to say, that we could all learn from His life, as we look at the perfections of His person, His goodness, His kindness, His gentleness, His sympathy, His compassion and concern, His tender care, His tenderness, His forgiveness, His wisdom, His understanding, His faithfulness and trust in God. And as we look at all of those characteristics of Christ, they are all indeed, the images that are instructive for us. We would do well to learn from any one of them or them all.

However, there is one image of Christ that well surpasses all of those and, in a certain way, is perhaps, the truest perception of Jesus Christ, and as we continue our study, it is the one that is most necessary. The apostle Paul so powerfully summed it up when he said this, "I am determined to know nothing among you except Christ crucified."

Beloved, this is the proper vision of Christ, the image as the crucified one. The truest and purest perspective of the person and work of Christ is found in viewing Him as He died on the cross as the suffering Jesus. This image surpasses all the others. And so, as we look unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith, we must look at Him in His suffering, that's the key to our Christian faith. This is to be the focal point for every Christian, our eyes must be set upon the suffering Christ. The crucified Christ is our vision of our Savior, Who willingly laid down His life, that we might receive the gift of salvation.

There is nowhere that we see Him so clearly as when He would hang on the cross. Nowhere do we see His deity so manifest as on the cross. Nowhere do we see His humanity so clearly manifest as on the cross. Nowhere do we see His finished work having been accomplished as on the cross. There in His suffering He is most completely revealed, to those who would later follow Him. And that is precisely what is in the mind of Peter as he begins to write, in verse 21 of chapter 2.  Allow me to just read it to you. "For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds. For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."

It is here, that here Peter talks about the suffering Jesus. And before we're done with this passage, you're going to see Him suffering in three ways, as our standard or model for suffering, as our substitute or sin bearer in suffering, and as our shepherd perfected through suffering. We see Him then as the model to follow, the substitute who paid the price for our sin, and the shepherd who drew us to Himself. Here then, Peter focuses on the perspective of the suffering Jesus. As Peter opens in this particular section of Scripture, he starts with verse 21, "For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you," Now in our earlier study of I Peter chapter 2, we studied that as Christian we're at odds with the world, you remember that right? They're hostile to us, they reject us. And the result of that there is unjust punishment, there is unjust criticism, there is unjust persecution to one degree or another. Sometime it is verbal, sometimes it is physical, sometimes it is mental, just the ostracizing of a person, socially, but always as committed people who follow Christ, we are at constant odds with the social system that follows Satan. So we know, that we're going to suffer. We also learned there's no virtue in suffering for what is wrong, that's deserved suffering. But we as Christians will suffer for doing right because the world is offended by our doing right.  And when we suffer we are to endure it patiently because that finds favor with God. So, if you manifest your Christianity, in the world, there will be hostile reaction, and for it you will suffer, because you've been called to that. Then he says, "Since Christ also suffered for you." And then this, "Leaving you an example so that you should follow in His steps."

This is a very important reality: For Jesus Christ the path to glory was the path of suffering. And that too, is the path for us as Christians, suffering in the path to glory. And through the history of the church that has been true. "And you will be hated by all on account of My name." And we previously studied many verses, in various books of the Bible, that illustrated this point to us.

The facts are this: They persecuted Christ, and surely, they'll persecute you. And the path to glory for Him was through suffering, and the path to glory for us is through suffering.
Now let me say it in a simple way. Unjust suffering was Christ's path to glory, it must be ours. And as we go through unjust suffering, the first thing we want to notice is that Christ is our standard. He is our example. And that's precisely what it says, if you'll note it again in chapter 2 verse 21. "He suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps."

So, beloved, in what way is the death of Christ an example? Well, I've already given you the basic idea, but allow me to be a bit more specific. When Jesus died on the cross, He was being executed as a criminal. Had He committed a crime? Had He? Certainly not! Was He guilty of any wrongdoing? No. Was He guilty of any trespass? No. Was He guilty of any sin? No. Did He ever have an evil thought? No. Did He ever say an evil word? No. Was it an unjust execution? Yes. Was it the most unjust execution ever perpetrated on any human being by unjust men? Yes.

So what then do we learn from all of it? Jesus shows us that a person can be in the will of God, and He was, a person can be greatly, eminently gifted by God for ministry, which He was, a person can be beloved of God, and He was, a person can be perfectly righteous, and He was, a person can be totally obedient to God in everything, again He was, a person can believe God perfectly and yet He suffered. And His suffering was unjust. He was misunderstood. He was misrepresented. He was hated. He was despised. He was persecuted. And He was murdered. And what is the point of all of this? Christ, in His death, gave us the standard of how to respond to unjust persecution. He is the epitome of Christian illustrations. It is possible to be perfect and still suffer. We know this, because Jesus did.

Now, if I may be so bold as to say, it is extremely shallow theology and it is utterly ungodly Bible interpretation to say as some contemporary false teachers have said that Christians who suffer are outside of God's will. That is pure absurdity. That is God's will to suffer for righteousness’ sake. To say that when a believer suffers he's not claiming his available resources is foolishness. It's heresy. If Jesus Christ was perfectly in the will of God, perfectly gifted for ministry by God, perfectly loved by God, perfectly righteous, if His faith in God was absolutely perfect and He still suffered unjustly, then what makes us think we who are so imperfect will escape it? What foolish, ridiculous, theology would concoct the idea that to suffer means you're outside of God's will? That's antichrist! Was Jesus out of God's will? More than that, was He out of God's will when He died on the cross? What foolish hypocrisy!

Beloved, it is no surprising truth here, that is that the righteous will suffer and the righteous do suffer for their goodness and their godliness. And in the midst of that they can look to Jesus Christ, Who is our example as the standard for how they are to respond to that suffering. And that's the whole point. We should expect to suffer. He did. It was His path to glory. It's our path to glory.

He's left for us an example. Verse 21. That word "example" is a wonderful word, in Greek is hupogrammos. It literally means "writing under." And it was writing put under a piece of paper to trace letters on. Christ is the pattern, He's the standard. He's the example by which we trace our life. It had the usage of a small child in a class, learning to write the alphabet and putting a model under what he was writing on, or below what he was writing on, following the model, the standard, the pattern. So Christ has given us the pattern, the standard. It says, "For you should follow in His..." See the word "steps," its the word, ichnos. It's the word “footprints,” plural, footprints. In fact, it means tracks, a line of footprints or tracks.  We are to follow in His tracks. We are to follow in His footprints. Why? Because the path to glory which He walked is the path of righteousness and the path of righteousness in an unrighteous world is the path of unjust suffering. That's it. That's the point.

And the reality is, some of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering more than we are and...and many are suffering in ways differently than we are. But those who walk the path of righteousness to glory will follow the path through suffering. I know it, I have experienced it and I'm sure many of you have as well. If we move in the same direction that Christ moved in, toward glory, we to are going to experience the same unjust suffering as He did.

Peter wants us to look more closely at just how Christ responded to suffering. Now, bear in mind that He suffered a lot in His life but never did He suffer as much as He did at the cross. And so Peter, in his illustration, takes us right to the cross. He moves us right into the scene of Christ's extreme suffering. He also reveals to us his personal experience because he was with Christ right up until the end. And he certainly had first-hand knowledge of the suffering of Christ on the cross, even if from afar. Furthermore, he not only shows us his personal knowledge in regard to the suffering of Christ, but he shows us his understanding of Isaiah 53, the greatest Old Testament chapter on the suffering of Christ, for he uses five different quotes or allusions, if you will to Isaiah 53 in this brief passage. Isaiah 53, I'm sure you remember, is about the suffering Messiah.

Peter then, is taking us to the cross, through the eyes of his own experience, and taking us to the cross through the eyes of the prophet Isaiah in that amazing 53rd chapter. If you'll note, the first thing he draws on is Isaiah 53:9, to describe Christ's reaction to unjust treatment. Look at verse 22, in all of it "He committed no sin nor was any deceit found in His mouth." That is drawn out of Isaiah 53:9. And it describes Christ's general reaction to unjust treatment. He committed no sin. Now in Isaiah 53, if you were to look it up, in verse 9, what it says there is He committed no violence. Isaiah used the word "violence." The Septuagint which is the Greek translation of Isaiah uses the word "lawlessness." The Septuagint was going deeper but the Septuagint translators understood that Isaiah, by the word "violence," meant sin, which is violent against God. Violence not in the sense that we think of violence as a single kind of act, but violence in the sense that it violates God. He never violated God. The Septuagint translators used the word "lawlessness" to say that He never violated the law of God. Peter gets right to the heart of it and he simply uses the word "sin" because that's exactly what he knew Isaiah meant and the Holy Spirit confirms it here. Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that what Isaiah meant was sin. What he's saying is Jesus committed no sin, even under the most difficult circumstances when He was being unjustly treated. And here you have the full character of what theologians for centuries have called the impeccability of Christ defended. He was impeccable. That is, He did not sin, He could not sin. And in chapter 1 verse 19 He is an unblemished, spotless lamb.

Peter uses quotes from Isaiah that the Messiah committed no sin, never violating the law of God, and never being lawless. He had no sins of His own. Peter then says, "Nor was any deceit found in His mouth." Why does he say that? Isn't it enough to say He committed no sin? It is. But the second statement is just a re-enforcement, a strengthening of the first, because where is it that sin most easily shows up? In the mouth, that's right. Because the heart speaks through the mouth. And the mouth of Jesus uttered no deceit. The word for "deceit" means any type of sin of the tongue. And the tongue sins by deception, innuendo, slander, a whole myriad of ways. But no wickedness came out of His mouth, no wickedness ever came across His tongue. He committed no sin by act and He spoke no sin by mouth.

The mouth more than any other human behavior, reveals the heart. That's why James 3:2 says, "Whoever doesn't offend with his mouth, the same is a perfect man." Conversely, the perfect man will never offend with his mouth. Jesus, who never offended with his mouth, is therefore a perfect man. He committed no sin and no sin ever crossed His lips. He was absolutely flawless, sinless, perfect.  Even the thieves on the cross, Luke 23:41, hanging there, one of them says, "We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong." No jury could ever find Him guilty of anything. His trial was a farce, all the accusations were lies, they were trumped up.  Jesus said, do you remember in John 8:46, "Who among you can convict Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe Me?" Go ahead, which of you can legitimately accuse me of sin? And, of course, none could speak. None could speak because there was no sin in Him.

The apostle Paul says, in II Corinthians 5:21 "He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Once again, Christ was absolutely sinless. Then, in Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 15 it says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15. He was without sin. In Hebrews 7:26 it says, "For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens" And you already know this, I'm only reiterating it. Jesus was completely and perfectly sinless. He was without sin.
And I Peter 3, verse 18, says, "For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm."

Then, John says in I John 3:5, "You know that He was revealed so that He might take away sins, and there is no sin in Him." The Scripture is absolutely clear on this. In all circumstances of life, in all the injustices, in all the accusations against Christ that were false, in all the mistreatment, He never sinned in anything He did and He never sinned in anything He said. It's amazing. All the accusations against Him, all the abuse, all the cruelty, all the suffering was absolutely unjust. And because He never retaliated in a sinful way, He's a perfect model, the perfect model. He is the most unjustly treated human being who ever lived. And because He was perfect and all the mistreatment of hell was thrown against Him and He never sinned, He is the perfect model of how you and I are to respond to unjust treatment. Did you get that? That's the bottom line. He's the perfect model of how you and I are to respond to unjust treatment.

Peter's mind again, goes back to Isaiah 53. He knows it now to be fully Messianic, speaking of Christ, and he echoes the thought of that prophet again in verse 23. Look at the next verse, verse 23, Peter says, "when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly." That's right out of Isaiah 53:7, do you remember what it says? "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth." So Peter has it. While He was reviled, He didn't revile in return. While He was suffering, He spoke no threats. That is the perfect standard.  Beloved, that's a tough act to follow.

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I am falsely accused, which for one reason or another, is pretty often anymore, there is on occasion a slight desire to retaliate, speaking an unfit word from my mouth in addressing a critic, who has attacked me unjustly. I cannot imagine what it would be like to never have committed that sin, ever! To never have anything come out of your mouth that is unkind, even in anger, to remain sinless even when reviled in ways that I can't even comprehend, like Jesus was and yet never revile in return, to unjustly suffer and yet utter no threat. It's unbelievable. I really wish I could be like Him, I do try, though I have not always been successful. He was under sustained and repeated provocation. I mean, they provoked Him to the breaking point yet they couldn't cause Him to break His silence and they could not make any sin come out of His mouth. Why? Because there was no sin conceived in His heart, none whatsoever.

I personally think I fit better in the company of Paul. Paul, in Acts 23 looked intently at the council that was trying him. And the high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside Paul to strike him on the mouth. One of the soldiers was going to smack him right across the face. And Paul said to him, "God strike you, you white-washed wall." And what did the bystanders say? "Do you revile God's high priest?" Paul grabbed his mouth and apologized. I understand that. I identify with that image. I find it difficult to identify with what Jesus went through, the perfection of His perfect response, but He's the standard, not Paul. Paul is an example to us in a lot of things, but this is not one of them. Though I continually strive for the standard of Jesus, I admit, I am often more like Paul.

We often speak of the word reviled, in Scripture, however, I know some of you may not know its meaning. “Reviled” is a verb that means to use abusive language, vile language against someone, to literally pile up abuse, a present participle indicating it's done repeatedly. You find it used in Mark 14 and 15, they were reviling Christ; verbal abuse which is a very, very harsh kind of abuse, in my opinion, its sometimes harder to deal with than physical abuse.  But in it He didn't revile in return. Do you remember His trial? Do you remember when He was at the home of the high priest and He was being tried unjustly by the Sanhedrin, as it was recorded in Matthew 26:57 and following. He accepted all of the verbal abuse they threw at Him in total silence. Do you remember then He was taken to the praetorium, which is from the original word, original meaning of the word praetor, which means headquarters or tent, of Pilate where He was unjustly accused and abused again, Matthew 27:12, And there He accepted the abuse silently and never reviled, He never said a word.

He then had to come before the throne of Herod and He was further accused vehemently by the chief priests and scribes. And they incessantly abused Him verbally. Luke 23:7 to 11 says, "So he kept asking Him questions, but Jesus did not answer him. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing Him. Then Herod, with his soldiers, treated Him with contempt, mocked Him, dressed Him in a brilliant robe, and sent Him back to Pilate." Never said a retaliatory word. His example is a perfect standard for us. As Christians, we are never to return abuse to the one who gives it, no matter how unjust their abuse might be.

In verse 23 it says, "But they kept up the pressure, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And their voices won out. So Pilate decided to grant their demand and released the one they were asking for, who had been thrown into prison for rebellion and murder. But he handed Jesus over to their will." Hard to imagine, isn't it? Because there were moments of utterly inexplicable pain, they spit on Jesus, they pulled the hair out of His face from His beard, they jammed thorns into brow, they hammered nails through His flesh, they spit on His face. The physical, the verbal cruelty, the provocation, the agitation, the ugly, wicked venomous hatred, any normal human being is going to well up with feelings of retaliation because it's unjust. But He threatened no one and, could He have handed over some threats. The amazing soberness of that silence is most appreciated when you think of who He is. He is God. He is God the Creator, the upholder of the universe, sinless, holy, anointed Son of God. And one word from His mouth could have blasted them into eternal hell, could have literally burned them to a crisp, the ground could have opened to swallow their ashes. But He never threatened them. And when He finally did speak, and He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Beloved, it was for those very people who were unjustly killing Him that He was dying. He was there on the cross paying the penalty for sinners like them, like you and I. And He knew that the glory was through the path of suffering, so He accepted it without retaliation, He accepted it without revenge, He accepted it without bitterness, He accepted it without anger.

I Peter 3:9 Peter says, "not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing," That's what Jesus did. "since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing." And that's the same idea. How could Jesus do this? How could He be suffering what He suffered so totally in an unjust way and just not retaliate? Well Peter gives you the secret at the end of chapter 2 verse 23. Here's the secret. "when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly."

What did He do? "but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly."
Who did He trust? God. He trusted God," the One who judges justly." The word "entrusting" means to hand over to someone to keep, paradidōmi, to hand over to someone to keep. He just handed over Himself to God, saying, "You keep Me." He handed over the circumstance to God. Literally, He kept handing Himself over because the suffering kept coming and He kept handing Himself over. We know it couldn't have been easy, but He kept doing it. It became His habit. In every unjust suffering, in every event, He kept handing Himself over, handing Himself over. By the way, the word "Himself" is added, it's not in the original but it is a very accurate addition because it is the intent of the text to emphasize that.

Jesus accepted their revile, their beatings, peacefully and silently, until the last words He'd ever utter during His earthly life, when He finally said, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit."

In Closing......

As Christ's followers, we are to follow the standard of Jesus Christ, which is to accept it without any retaliation whatsoever and simply continuously entrust ourselves to the care of the One who will bring a righteous verdict on our lives and who will grant to us the eternal glory that our faithfulness wins. That's the point. God will make it right, but as soon as you retaliate or I retaliate, we forfeit the blessing and lose the reward that God would grant to us.

And I can say, from my own personal experience, that no matter how much you're criticized, no matter how much you are maligned, misrepresented and misunderstood and unjustly treated, no matter how much of that happens to you, you can have perfect calm and perfect peace in your heart because you commit yourself continually to the perfect Judge who will not make any mistake when it comes to evaluating your life. So let the others think what they will, say what they will and do as they will, because His the only One we need.

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
Amen
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Brian Monzon Ministries

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