Christ as the Sufferer in 1 Peter
In the first epistle of Peter the Lord is seen throughout as
From various points of view He comes before us in this character.
CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS WERE A SUBJECT OF PROPHECY.
“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified beforehand, the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1:11).
That Christ should suffer is the burden of the Old Testament prophets, who “enquired and searched diligently” into their own writings.
In type and picture as well as in direct statements these sufferings were plainly indicated. Joseph in many forms of sorrow and trial was a remarkable type of Christ. The sacrifices under the law all pointed to Him as the great Sacrifice. Psalms 22, 40, 69, 102 and others very manifestly speak of His refusal. Isaiah 53, Zechariah 13, and many other passages bring Him before us in His rejection and in His subsequent reign.
To the people of Israel who looked for freedom from their enemies a suffering Messiah was a stumbling stone. Their teachers could not understand such Scriptures. They expected a glorious King and Deliverer, and so far they were right. That He should suffer first was a matter of profound perplexity to them. Some indeed suggested that there must be two Messiahs, a suffering one and a conquering one.
The mystery is solved for us in the verse quoted above. The sufferings of Christ would precede the promised and purposed glories.
Today we stand between the period of His sufferings and the time of His glory.
We look back with adoring eyes at His past sufferings, and as we look forward we rejoice in the prospect of His future glories. The crown of thorns of the past is set aside. The Lord is already “crowned with glory and honour”, and soon He will come forth in majesty, crowned with “many crowns.” The diadems of glory soon will be upon His brow. And He will “reign from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.”
CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS AN EXAMPLE
In chapter 2 the Lord is seen in His sufferings for us as we read,
“Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. Who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Pet. 2:21-24).
The example of Christ is before us now. His bearing when He suffered is prominent. He fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy, “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so openeth He not His mouth.”
Moral glory was manifested equally in His silence, as in His words. With Him there was no sin, no guile, no reviling, no threatening, perfection shone forth in every act. And He “bare our sins in His own body” in order that we, being dead to sins, being done with them altogether, “should live unto righteousness.” Once we were as wandering sheep, now we are under the direction of the Shepherd and guardian of our souls. He is our Leader and Guide, and we are called to follow Him in His wonderful pathways.
In our earthly pilgrimage we may be called to suffer. If so let us make sure that it is either for righteousness, or for Christ’s name sake. Let it be manifest that it is not for evil doing in any way. Christ has suffered for sins. Do not let us suffer for sins then. In chapter 3. His sufferings are presented in a deeper way.
CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS AS A SACRIFICE FOR SINS,
“Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just (One) for the unjust (ones), that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18).
In no other way than by His becoming a sin-offering, could the righteous demands of God’s holy throne be met. In no other way could the heart of God towards man, in his guilt and need, be manifested. In no other way could our sins be blotted out. In no other way could we be redeemed from under the power of Satan. In no other way could we be near to God.
It was God’s desire that we should be brought to Himself, brought to know Him, brought to confide in Him, brought to love Him, brought to worship Him, brought to serve Him, as sons and priests before Him for ever, in His own house, the Father’s house.
That all this might come about, the Lord Jesus came into perfect manhood here. “Lo I come to do Thy will, O My God”, were His words as He came. And “I do always the things that please Him” marked His every footfall as He went His way in answering obedience, even unto death, the death of the cross. Nothing could deflect Him from His purpose, nothing could deter Him. Nothing could discourage Him even in His rejection.
We hear Him say, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:50). The baptism of death and judgment, at Golgotha, must be accomplished before He could tell out that which was in His heart. He was straitened, pent up in spirit until the sufferings of the cross being finished, He could as risen declare the glorious results of His completed work.
He had said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). He in His life of perfection was alone. But He had come in order that there might be much fruit for God, in the carrying out of all His Father’s purposes of grace towards man, according to His own good pleasure.
In resurrection the words of triumph fell from the lips of the risen Lord, “Go to My brethren, and say unto them, “I ascend unto My Father, and your Father and to My God, and your God” (John 20:17). Now He could make known the spoils of His victory. NOW they were brought to God, that in fullest acceptance and relationship they might rejoice before Him, and be His worshippers and His witnesses.
In resurrection-life we are bound with Himself in the presence of God. In His death as our Substitute we have died. In His life as the Risen One we live.
CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS ARE THE WAY OF VICTORY FOR US
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin. That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Pet. 4:1-2).
Victory over sin and the world is to be ours. His sufferings being accomplished and He being risen and we being quickened together with Him, a practical effect is to be produced in our lives.
Our own wills once swayed us. We lived for the accomplishment of our own lusts, in pleasures and desires of various kinds. In the death of Christ our self-life, our sinful life, has been brought to an end. Now applying that death to ourselves, arming ourselves “with the same mind”, we judge the “flesh of sin” and in the power of the Holy Spirit we can live the rest of our time here in the world to the will of God.
For this we are here. As holy priests we can tell out our heart’s praises, “offering up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. “As royal priests we can “show forth the praises” (the excellencies) “of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:5, 9).
Thus we who believe can be here for the pleasure of Him who hath called us. We are placed in various circumstances and positions and relationships, and in these we have differing responsibilities. But each one of us has his own peculiar service to perform. Thus we are exhorted, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
His grace is many-coloured. We are not all alike. To every one of us “his work” has been appointed. Let us each one of us seek from God the knowledge of the function we are to fulfil, and then wait on our ministering. And all we do has this end in view, “That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet. 5:10-11).
For us the present is the time of testing and trial. That God may be glorified in us, and our spiritual good and growth are in view.
We are to be
PARTAKERS OF CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS
for awhile, “that when His glory” shall be revealed “we may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:13).
Very little some of us know of this in these countries of privilege. In many a place our brethren in Christ are suffering for His Name’s sake. They bear shame and contumely for His sake. They have a present reward, “the Spirit of glory and of God resting upon them.” And God is glorified in them while they are evil spoken of.
If we are called to suffer as Christians, to suffer for Christ’s name sake we are to glorify God on this behalf. It is an honour to suffer for Christ’s sake. He has suffered from man’s rude hands, and we should count it a privilege to be allowed to have part with Him in this. In His atoning sufferings He was absolutely alone. None could be with Him then. His is all the glory of that work while the blessing flows to us.
It is left for us in the joy of His completed sacrifice to stand for Him in loyalty and faithfulness in this world of His rejection.
GLORY FOLLOWS THE SUFFERINGS
In chapter 5 Peter tells us of his being “a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.”
To all who came in contact with him Peter preached Christ. He stood as a witness for the rejected Lord. This was his mission. Before long he was to seal his testimony with his blood.
This may not be ours. It has been said, “It is easier to die as a martyr than to live as a Christian.” Peter did both. The latter is ours in any case. The former we might be called to do if our Lord yet tarry. But the glory is in prospect. It is this that is our only certain future.
An aged servant of God was interviewed by a young man who was giving up his means of livelihood for conscience sake. “If when I take this step this thing happens and the other thing comes to pass, what then?” he said. The older one at once replied, “There’s no future but glory for the Christian.”
Blessed it is to know this, and to leave every matter in the hands of infinite love and wisdom and power. Therefore we are encouraged by the words, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”
The latter part, “He careth for you,” has been translated freely, “It matters to Him about you.” Yes! He ever has our good in mind. And any suffering we may have to endure is but for a season.
“The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
Glory, eternal glory, His eternal glory is that to which God in grace has called us by Christ Jesus. The sufferings are but temporary, the glory is everlasting. Christ’s sufferings have won for us this glorious future. “The glory that should follow” is great. Many glories shall be the portion of Christ. He is already glorified in God Himself. The kingdom glories are soon to be manifested. Once it was true of Him, Christ “must suffer.” Those sufferings are completed. Now it is true of Him, “He must reign.” As King of kings and Lord of lords He will come forth in majesty. Then every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father.