Saturday, February 18, 2017

Walking in the Steps of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21-23)

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;” (1 Peter 2:21–23, NASB95)

We have many examples today of people crying foul when things don’t go their way. These loud and frequently profane and violent reactions are the focus of media attention probably even feeding these “justified responses.” Rather, than working appropriately within the structures and even using the appropriate voice given to raise concern and address grievances entertainers, media outlets, politicians, educators, and others are stepping outside of what was once an acceptable way of dealing with differences to revile those with whom they are opposed.

All of this stands in contrast to the quiet, yet reserved persistence of the example cited in yesterday’s post and more specifically the example of her Lord who we read about in today’s passage. Consider the example of Christ. This is exactly what Peter tells us to do. We are to actively consider the example of Christ when we are mistreated or endure unjust attack. Peter tells us that we have been called for a purpose, and that purpose is to follow in the steps of our Lord.

Jesus never sinned. He did absolutely nothing wrong. He never lied or deceived anyone in any way. He is the perfect embodiment of righteousness, grace and truth. But, He was accused of great wrong. It’s not that He did wrong, but that He did not do or say things the way they wanted them said and done. By speaking truth, He opposed their lies, and for that they wanted Him put to death. Eventually they pushed this to the point that He was brought before the leadership of the day for that very purpose. He was arrested and held before any having any hearing where they mocked Him, blindfolded Him, and repeatedly beat Him (Luke 22:63-65), saying many evil things about Him. He was taken before the council of the Jewish leadership where they charged Him (Luke 22:66-71). From there they drug Him before the government. First, there was Pilate who said, “I find no guilt in this man.” But, being intimidated by their fierceness Pilate shuffled Him off to Herod saying that He fell under Herod’s jurisdiction.

Concerning Herod we read, “And he [Herod] questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate.” (Luke 23:9–11, NASB95) Interestingly, over this situation we find in verse 12 that these leaders who were once opposed to each other became friends over Him. Returning to Pilate, and after Pilate reaffirming that He found no guilt in Him, Pilate succumbed to the pressure.

“But they cried out all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” (He was one who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection made in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, but they kept on calling out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!” And he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail. And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted. And he released the man they were asking for who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, but he delivered Jesus to their will.” (Luke 23:18–25, NASB95)

Matthew adds, “When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.” (Matthew 27:24–31, NASB95)

Peter quoted from Isaiah 53 where we read, “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9, NASB95)

“WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH” It is in Jesus’s steps that we are called to walk. The verses that follow the trial record for us that our Lord then carried His own cross (with some help) to the place where He was then crucified. And, Peter, who was there, tells us exactly how He responded, “while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;” Not only did He not revile or heap abuse on them in return. Instead, we read, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34a, NASB95)

In these last two posts, we looked at a series of two different trials. One of them we know the outcome, and the other we are still waiting to see. The example for the one being played out in the courts today is given to us by our Lord who walked through the courts 2000 years ago for the express purpose of laying down His life for us so that we might have the forgiveness of sins and be given new life. Being given that new life, we are now called to walk in His steps, responding to the trials we encounter in the way He established so that God would be glorified in us and in Him.

We may live in difficult days, but our Lord knows these difficulties. He has gone before us in them, and today He holds us firmly. Our God is a just judge, and He will do right. We are called to trust God the Father, just as the Son did when He took on the form of man for us.

One of the reported reasons that our current President received so many votes was because of the looming threat to the Supreme Court of this country. We have a vast number of voices today that would like to scream down a good judge. Let us pray together that we would have justices who are not swayed by threat, but who do right before God and man. Let us also commit ourselves to walk right in the steps of Jesus despite the voices and forces that will be raised in opposition, praying for one another amid the trials

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