Fourth Sunday of Easter (2023)

Easter - He Lives  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:17
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1 Peter 2:19–25 NIV84
For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Living in the Hope of Our Inheritance
1. Living Our Unchangeable Inheritance (1 Peter 1:3–9)
2. Living in Reverent Fear (1 Peter 1:17–21)
3. Living through Unjust Suffering (1 Peter 2:19–25)
4. Living as Holy Priests (1 Peter 2:4–10)
5. Living to Witness to the Hope (1 Peter 3:15–22)
6. Living through Trials and Temptations (1 Peter 4:12–17; 5:6–11)
Sermon Outline
Most every Sunday school child sooner or later hears about Daniel and his life-threatening experience in the lions’ den. What may have been missed is why the king ordered Daniel to be treated in this way. Out of jealousy, Daniel’s fellow rulers persuaded King Darius to issue a decree forbidding prayers to anyone except the king. Violators would be thrown into the lions’ den. In spite of this, Daniel continued to pray to the Lord three times a day. Reluctantly, Darius had to carry out the punishment. Of course Daniel was saved from harm, but for doing a good thing—praying—he suffered.

Bad Results from Doing Good?

“But if you suffer for doing good. . . . this is commendable before God.” Peter’s words to the Christian slaves must have upset them. Several times in his epistle he states that painful treatment is bound to happen not only at the hands of their masters, but by others as well.
In all fairness it just doesn’t seem right, even to us today. Being good and doing good should result in blessing and reward. The historian H. G. Wells complained that Christians were basically selfish, forever looking for God’s favor. They serve him, but not for nothing.
Living a decent life in word and deed has its consequences, and many are desirable. One cannot separate the wetness from water or the softness from feathers. The first psalm specifically states, “Blessed is the man . . . [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord. . . . Whatever he does prospers.” But not always. Job, for example, “was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). But Satan was permitted to unhitch the goodness of Job to the prosperity that resulted from it, only to show the Tempter to be wrong, even though Job lost family, property, and his own health.

Sweet Revenge?

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. . . . When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate” 1 Peter 2:21, 23).
Certainly the abuse the Christian suffered must have not been taken lightly. The temptation to lie in wait and plot revenge could hardly be absent. Peter knew all about that. The scene in Gethsemane where he drew his sword was all too familiar to him.
Nor did the other disciples find it easy to turn the other cheek (Luke 6:29). When they went to a Samaritan village to ready things for their Master, they were not welcomed. So James and John asked him, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” For this vengeful spirit he found it necessary to rebuke them (Luke 9:51–55). Even Joseph’s brothers, who had sold him into slavery, were expecting the worst when they recognized him as the powerful prime minister of Egypt. His forgiveness and subsequent actions to take care of them and their families stand out as one of the most magnificent accounts of undeserved mercy in the OT.
So Peter introduces the mistreated slaves to the example of Jesus Christ, who was merciful and forgiving toward those who abused him—a most striking demonstration of love. Not only are they to stifle threats of retaliation, they are to take positive steps in dealing with their tormentors (read 3:9–12).
1 Peter 3:9–12 ESV
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
This is not the way of the world. There are daily instances of refusals to forgive, much less to forget.
For more than 15 years a drunk driver who killed a 16-year-old girl has been sending a check for $1 every week to her parents, who requested it. The judge had so ordered it. At first the driver wanted to write all the checks at once, but they refused to settle for that. Then he tried to send a dollar bill each week, but this also was unacceptable to the parents. The daughter’s name appears on each check. “At least once a week for 18 years he’ll remember what he did,” they said.

A Better Way

Our Good Shepherd is the example of entrusting our lives into the hands of a faithful and just judge . . . and more.
Jesus commends his spirit in the hands of his Father (Lk 23:46).
The Jewish “now I lay me down to sleep” prayer (Ps 31:5) becomes his prayer.
In death, yes, even his God-forsaken death for our sins on the cross, he clings to his Father, trusting in him.
We follow Jesus’ example with, in effect, the same prayer in Luther’s Morning and Evening Prayers: “For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things.”
But much more than example, Jesus is the shepherd and guardian into whose hands we can commend our souls.
We have the sure and certain knowledge that nothing will divorce us from his love and care, not even the distress of persecution, the tribulations that are inflicted on us (Rom 8:35–39). Dying, we live with confidence in this promise!
These things will not snatch us from the hands of our Good Shepherd. What people intend for evil, God works for the good of those who trust in him.
The Good Shepherd who began the good work in us by calling us to faith will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).
We commend ourselves to God, comforted by the fact that you are His precious child!
Knowing this provides great comfort under the cross and amid temptations. In other words, because God chose you to be His own, in His counsel, before the time of the world, determined and decreed that He would assist us in all distresses. He determined to grant patience, give consolation, nourish and encourage hope, and produce an outcome for us that would contribute to our salvation.
St. Paul teaches this in a very comforting way. He explains that God in His purpose has ordained before the time of the world by what crosses and sufferings He would conform every one of His elect to the image of His Son. His cross shall and must work together for good for everyone, because they are called according to God’s purpose” (FC SD XI 48–49).
Today’s text concludes with, 1 Peter 2:20 “But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. The Greek text literally says, … “if you take it patiently, this is grace that originates from God” (para-tha-oh the grace that originates from God).
It's only because of God's free and faithful generous love that we get to suffer injustice because Christ suffered for you leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. You see, it is a grace to walk where Jesus walked; it is a grace; it's a privilege to endure what Jesus endured; it is a privilege to have this solidarity with our precious Savior in bearing this injustice for our doing good.
What did Jesus do when He bore injustice? He entrusted himself facing all of this this injustice by entrusting himself to the judge who will judge. What a powerful gift of grace. Entrusting ourselves to the judge who will judge.
So, don't grab revenge, revenge belongs to God. Don't curl up in a little ball; don't quit don't whine. When receiving this injustice just as our Savior received injustice, we do what our Savior did we entrust ourselves to the judge who will take care of all justice going forward.
Thank God that we have more than a good example in Jesus Christ! We have a Good Shepherd, who was put to death for your sins and raised again for your justification. Knowing that he has loved us with such an everlasting love even to the point of being given over to suffer death on the cross, we can live as those who are conformed to his image, pressed (as painful as it may be at times) into that image. He is an example for the life of faith in the Father and love for the neighbor. But even better, he is the Shepherd who has rescued us, reconciling us to his Father, and even now by his Gospel enlivening us to live in him and for him. Amen.
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