Imitation of Christ in Suffering

1 Peter 2: 18:25 gives instructions for slaves to submit to their masters.  It says that they should obey even the harsh masters:

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.  For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.  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.  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

“ Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;

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;  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.  For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

What was of most interest to me was Peter’s biblical reasoning.  In verses 22-25, Peter quotes Isaiah 53.  Because Jesus suffered, so should we.  Because Jesus was reviled, so should we expect to be.  For he bore our sins, and by his stripes we were healed.  Because of that, Peter says, Christian slaves should submit to their masters, even the harsh ones.  Christians should not revile or threaten, even those who wrong them, but rather commit all things to God, who judges righteously.

It is not unusual to say that we should imitate our Lord, or even the more cliche, “What would Jesus do?”  However, we rarely carry this out to the fullest notion of suffering, much less even, redemptive suffering.  But that is what Peter does.  In vs. 15, Peter says our submission will silence “the ignorance of foolish men.”  In chapter 3, verse 1, Peter says that the submission of wives might win over their husbands.  1 Peter 3:13-4:19 continues to command suffering.  Those who suffer are partaking of Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 4: 13).

Peter’s “imperatives” are founded on, and indeed mirror, the “declaratives” of the gospel.  What Christ did, we should do.  This is very much like Paul’s “in Christ” rationale, as well.  He also imitates Christ, most obviously in his substituting for Onesimus in the book of Philemon.

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About Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.

One thought on “Imitation of Christ in Suffering

  1. Can the slaves in Dubai suffer with Christ, or will they suffer by themselves?

    How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

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