Pictures of Jesus’ Suffering

Intro: How do most people see Jesus? If asked who Jesus was the answers would vary. But the moist common ones might include:

  • He was the little child born in the Bethlehem manger,
  • He was a humble and loving teacher,
  • He was a compassionate and powerful healer who cured diseases,
  • He was a good person who influenced others to do good.

As true as these characterizations are, they miss the point of his life and ministry. One image is indispensable to the revelation of the N.T. Paul references it in 1 Corinthians 2:22 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Despite the modern spin on Jesus’ life, he was not delusional or apprehensive about His life’s purpose. He clearly understood what He was facing, and courageously followed through with it. Isa 50:6-76 I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. 7 “For the Lord God will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed. We cannot see the real Jesus as He revealed Himself in scripture without seeing His voluntary and vicarious suffering.

The apostle Peter helps us remained focused on this integral element of Jesus’ life in the last words of 1 Peter 2. In the last words of this chapter he recalls and utilizes the words of the most complete picture of Jesus’ suffering in the O.T. – Isaiah 53. Consider 3 pictures of Jesus suffering in 1 Peter 2 (taken from Isaiah 53)

I. Our Standard for Suffering: 1 Peter 2:21-23 – 1 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;

A. Consider the context of these words. Peter has declared that Christians are called to live differently than others;

        • We are a chosen people, a holy priesthood who are offer spiritual sacrifices (v. 9-10)
        • We are pilgrims and sojourners, who must not live according to the desires of the body, but have conduct that is honorable in the sight of others (v. 11-12)
        • We must learn to live by submission to others (government officials, our leaders in the flesh, even evildoers) (v. 13-18)
        • We must be willing to suffer wrongfully. 1 Peter 2:19-2019 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. Later Peter affirms that we must not be ashamed to suffer as a Christian because our suffering brings glory to God. 1 Peter 4:16 – 6 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

B. Not only did Christ suffer for us redemptively, but also practically – leaving us an example – His suffering is our example or standard. We can suffer voluntarily, without being ashamed, because He has already suffered this way. Believers could never suffer for another’s salvation or provide atonement through their suffering, but they will suffer for Christ’s sake

C. The word translated example” literally means “writing under” and refers to a pattern placed under a sheet of tracing paper so the original images could be duplicated. (Learning to write by tracing the letters already made by another.)

D. stepsmeans “footprints” or “tracks.” WE can see where Jesus walked. Peter wants us to look closely for the footprints that Jesus left behind in His response to unjust treatment. To describe this he borrows from Isaiah 53:9.

1. Peter says Jesus “…committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth” (2:22)

            • Isa. 53:9 – Isaiah used the word violence to describe sin. Jesus did not react sinfully in deeds or words (“no deceit found in His mouth” – so easy to sin with our mouth)

2. 1 Peter 2:23 says “…When He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten.” To revile means to use abusive language against another repeatedly. “To pile on the abuse” Matthew 27:12-14 – 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. His own people hurled blasphemy toward Him as he hung on the cross. How could he be silent.

3. That He did not revile in return is all the more remarkable when one considers His ability to respond. Jesus said earlier “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53) As the sovereign, omnipotent Son of God and the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Jesus could have blasted them into eternal Hell with one word. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

a. Eventually, those who never repented and obeyed the gospel would be condemned to hell; but for this time He endured with no retaliation. Why? One reason was to set an example for us. Later Stephen learned from Jesus Himself how to not retaliate and

E. Jesus drew His strength to endure though His trust in the Father’s purpose and plan. He “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (2:23)

1. The verb for “committed Himself” means to “entrust” or “hand over”. It is in the imperfect tense signifying repeated past action. With each new wave of abuse, as it came again and again, Jesus was always “handing Himself over” to God for safekeeping. Jesus even voiced this continuing commitment at the very end “‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ having said this, He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46).

2. Jesus was willing to suffer because He had an unshakable confidence in God’s plan and He knew God would make things right. There may be two ways in which Jesus acknowledged the righteous judgment of the Father by submitting to suffering.

a. On the one hand, He voluntarily, and in fulfillment of God’s will, took the penalty for sin. He did not protest at what He had to suffer. Rather He consciously recognized that it was the penalty righteously due to sin. He recognized that in letting such shame, pain and curse fall upon Him, the righteous God was judging righteously.

b. On the other hand, because He Himself was sinless, He also believed that in due time God, as the righteous Judge, would vindicate Him as righteous, and exalt Him to His rightful place. He trusted in God to provide the justice that was due. So we too must be willing to suffer and let God provide the justice.

              • Romans 12:17-21 – 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
              • 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II. Our Substitute in Suffering – 1 Peter 2:2424 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed. Peter moves to the essential reality of Jesus’ vicarious suffering. He died for us. Again borrowing from Isaiah 53, he recounts the spiritual meaning of Jesus suffering. Isaiah 53:4-5 4 Surely He has borne our griefs, And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. vs. 11 – “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.”

A. The original text of 1 Peter 2:24 is emphatically personalizes it here“He Himself” (NIV, RSV) “His Own Self” (KJV, ASV). He alone bore the punishment. We did not bear any. “He bore it all that I might live”

B. The term “bore” means to carry the heavy weight that is imposed. Sin was a debt or weight that we could not bear. Hebrews 9:28 – 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

C. The sins that Jesus carried (bore) were mine, not His. The language here is figurative and profound. Jesus bore the weight of our sins through providing an atonement that was due. His death satisfied the righteous judgment of God that due against my sin. In that sense Jesus’ suffering was substitutional. It was the just (Jesus) for the unjust (me).

      • 1 Peter 3:1818 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
      • Gal 3:1313 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”*),
      • 2 Cor 5:211 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

III. Our Shepherd through Suffering – 1 Peter 2:2525 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. As he concluded this passage, Peter once more alluded to Isaiah 53, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (v. 6). Jesus is both the sacrificed lamb and the Shepherd of the sheep. The analogy is rich in meaning.

A. “You were like sheep going astray” – The verb denotes continuing action and empathically places it upon us – we were continually straying from the Shepherd through the practice of sin. But he has brought us back to Him through His suffering. Reconciliation is a product of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Eph 2:13-183 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Christ Our Peace 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. We were as helpless as lost sheep. But Jesus brought us back.

B. “The Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” – Under His care we have nothing to fear.

1. Jesus is the “good Shepherd” because He cares about His sheep. John 10:11-1411 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

2. The word for Overseer is also translated “guardian”. It is one who looks out for the welfare of another. Jesus guards us from evil and protects us through the guidance of His word and the efficacy of His blood. This is not a security based on my ability to do everything right. It is also not a false security that teaches once a person is saved he can never be lost.

3. It is a security that comes through my willingness to commit my life, even to the point of suffering and death, to the Shepherd. It is a security that comes by following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Conclusion: Come to the Shepherd of your soul. He suffered for you, bore your sins on the cross, and paid the penalty for your sins.