“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1–2, NASB95)
Today is known by a lot of names by people of faith around the world. One of them is Maundy Thursday. It is on this day nearly 2000 years ago that Jesus met with His disciples for that last Passover meal, the one in which He would wash His disciples’ feet and speak to them about the example He set for them of the servant Master. He would speak to them of His betrayal and Judas would leave the group to accomplish just that. He would share with them the bread and the wine for the last time and speak of its significance. He would speak to them of His leaving, and then He would pray that incredible prayer recorded for us between Himself and the Father. After all of this, He would then lead His disciples toward the garden where a few of them would be asked to watch and pray while He went in by Himself to ultimately face His betrayer, be arrested, and taken away for the reviling, beatings, trials, and even His being nailed to a cross for us.
In all, what began last Sunday (Palm Sunday) as we commemorated His coming into Jerusalem to the praise of the crowd, and we look to next as Good Friday and the commemoration of His death, Easter and the commemoration of His resurrection, really begins in earnest on this day in history when the culmination of God’s plan for our salvation neared its completion.
Jesus had been ridiculed for quite a while. There were those who were seeking after Him, and desiring His death. Yet, they were unable to touch Him until this time that the Father had set in place according to His preordained plan. This was God’s time for the Son to suffer for us in the flesh, to be ridiculed or reviled and not revile back, to face trumped up charges and admit that He indeed is just who they said He was.
“Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”” (John 18:33–37, NASB95)
Jesus said, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.” Pilate nailed it, and Pilate in the next verse even went on to express that He found no guilt in Jesus. But this would not quiet the crowds. They were out for His blood, and they wouldn’t settle for anything else. The amazing thing is that this was the plan of the Father. He sent His Son to shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus knew why He was there. He knew what He must endure. And, He did it all because God loves us. Jesus was all in; suffering, death and all because He knew what good it would accomplish.
Here in today’s verses Peter writes to those who were enduring trials to encourage them in their trials to remember not only the example of Christ but the power that He gave to them to live victoriously over sin, to endure hardship in the process, and to prove day by day the faithfulness of God. This is what we saw at the very beginning of Peter’s letter where He wrote,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3–9, NASB95)
When things get tough we are to remember Christ and to arm ourselves with the same purpose, which is living according to the will of God. Arming ourselves implies that there really is a battle that we are to be ready for. I think we all have known this battle in varying ways and in varying intensities. It is a real thing. There are spiritual forces out there who are relentless and who are strongly opposed to God and those who stand with Him. They deny His truth and seek to squelch anyone who stands in favor of it. We see this even in Pilate’s next words to Jesus in John chapter 18, where he said in verse 38, “What is truth?”
Recognizing that the world does not live for God nor according to the ways of God, we are called to live differently. We are called to live according to the truth that we have learned from Him, and knowing this we are to do so realizing that we will suffer in various ways as a result. The world will not accept that to which it is opposed, and not knowing God or accepting His ways we should not be surprised when it rejects us for living in worship of Him and doing as He calls us to do.
We are to put off the way of the flesh and to continually put on who we are in Christ. God has called us to live differently. As we hide His Word in our hearts and submit to the working of His Spirit in us we are continually strengthened to live just that way. Our goal is to live according to His will, seeking after Him with our whole hearts, and in this He is greatly pleased. He will strengthen us to endure the rest.
On the night in which He was betrayed Jesus said to His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NASB95)
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