Sermon May 17, 2020

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1445     Click here for audio worship.

May 17, 2020 1 Peter 2.13-25

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)


“Entrusted to God”


13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.


  • Servants of God (2.16)


My primary concern for us this morning is to preach on the suffering of Jesus prior to His resurrection. When we returned to our regular worship hour last Sunday, the plan was to give everyone more time to feel comfortable in returning and we know that many will still want to worship at home, and that is okay. This return is in no way an attempt to pressure anyone to come to worship. Today, our second Sunday back, I want to lift up the passion of Christ and next Sunday we will visit Easter again. Again, I do not want this to pressure anyone at all, that you have to come in person, only to say that this is our schedule. Last Sunday a return to semi-normal, today focused on the passion of Jesus Christ, and next Sunday a second celebration of Easter. I chose First Peter for today which has the topic of servitude that leads into his writings of what Christ has done through His suffering and death. All that to say that I plan to spend our time briefly on the lead in verses, but focus primarily on what Peter reveals about Jesus and His suffering.

Peter begins, in chapter 2, to discuss the conduct of Christian life. Every area of our conduct, according to Peter, should reflect who we are in Christ. We are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s possession, and our calling is to proclaim the excellencies of God. What are the excellencies? The Gospel! The victories of God! The Good News about Jesus Christ and all the promises, all the commandments, that is, all of God’s Word.


As we come to verse 13 and following, Peter invites us to be subject to human institutions, whether emperor or governors, but notice too their proper punish evil and praise good (1 Pet 2.14). Human institutions have a purpose and when that purpose is kept, then we are certainly called to subject ourselves to their leadership. The implication is that when governments oppose what God intends for their work, we have other responsibilities to fulfill. Our greater calling is to serve God, to live free in Christ, to show honor and love. Christ is our example. Christ went along with the governing parties except when those authorities overstepped their God given purpose. Take for example the religious authorities who had allowed the temple to become a place of commerce rather than a house of prayer. Jesus overturned the tables and scolded those who made it a den of thieves. I read somewhere recently, I wish I remembered where, that Jesus broke Roman law by rising from the dead because they commanded His death and He only obeyed that for three days! God calls us above all else to be His servants. That means we submit ourselves to all that God has authorized, but when those authorized to rule reject God’s purpose, we have other greater responsibilities in accordance with God’s law. We have seen this throughout our own history as people of faith have stood against unjust laws and we are seeing many of faith during this time also standing firm for justice and freedom. God calls us through First Peter to live faithfully to God and submissive to just governments.

Live as servants of God.


  • Mindful of God (2.19)


In the next section, verses 18-21, Peter addresses servants. Many scholars believe this was particularly household servants of that time. The overall message is to be mindful of God in all things. Sometimes a servant may suffer injustice, and in particular an injustice because of faith in Christ. Jesus again is our example, for He suffered the injustice of suffering and death at the hands of the authorities. If one suffers for their own sin, that is justice, but if one suffers for doing good, that takes endurance. Does this mean we just roll over and do nothing when injustice occurs? Not always, certainly. We have biblical recourse for injustices and certainly when fighting for justice for all people, but when we have no recourse and we endure, then it is credited to us as a gracious thing in the sight of God.

I think of this as things that I, or anyone, could pursue at times but decide that it is not worth the effort to fight. Just take what has happened and let God sort it out later. But then there are instances where God may call us to fight an injustice. I think of people rising up recently to protect the rights of a salon owner who was jailed. I think of much greater fights to end slavery or gain civil rights for all people. The key in all these things is one small phrase in Peter’s writing, in verse 19, “for this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” Mindful of God. This is the key: remain in all things of life, good or bad, remain mindful of God.

Live constantly mindful of God.


  • Called to Endure (2.20)


Christ endured horrible suffering that He did not deserve. In fact, humanity deserved what Jesus received. Christ is our example in suffering. Christ is our example in endurance. Jesus did not prevent His unjust suffering, and He certainly could have. He spoke when He should have and kept silent when necessary. He did not sin through it all, but He endured an injustice so that we would not have to endure what would have been justice against our own sin. In a like minded way, we are now called on to endure when we do good and suffer for it. This may be one of the hardest things to do because we are constantly invited to “not take it”. Fight back. But there are times when it is best to let it go.

Live in endurance by grace.


Peter appears to have two goals in these verses (13-20). First, it is to impress a testimony of God upon those who may accuse unjustly. Our behavior, whether something good or bad happens, can have a tremendous impression upon the non-believer. Our witness for Christ comes not just from what we say, but also from our actions and behavior. Second, Peter calls us to honor God in all things. Of course, this is precisely what it takes to create the first goal of giving testimony through good behavior. We seek to honor God because God has chosen us to represent Christ in all things. We are ambassadors for Christ. Our goal is to support a well ordered society and that kind of society can only exist when God is honored and that honor comes from government fulfilling its God given role and from believers honoring all that God has given for us.


  • Entrusted to God (2.23)


Peter sets up the call to proper behavior for Christians and that behavior is firmly based on what Jesus has done for us. Verse 21 clearly states that we have been called and that Christ is the example to follow.


21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.


We are called to these things: live as servants, live mindful of God, and live in endurance. None of these would be possible if not for Christ. And Christ suffered for us to empower in us these attributes. We are to follow in His steps. In everything Christ did, He did so by entrusting His life to God the Father. That’s what it takes! Entrust ourselves to God. We do that first by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God. We do that also by learning what Christ has done.


22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.


Just in this short passage 22-24 we see Jesus who committed no sin, no deceit, no abuse, no threats, He bore our sins on the cross, and He healed our wounds.

We sometimes want to overlook the suffering of Christ so we can rush to resurrection, but there is such great treasure here because with that suffering came salvation and in the language of Peter, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. In essence this is how we can even honor God, or live as servants, be mindful of God, and endure. Without Christ’s suffering and death we are still mired in our sin with no hope.

It is hard to see, in my view, how Peter could not have had Isaiah 53 in mind when he penned these words in his letter. Isaiah 53,


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 pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.


Outside of the gospels, this may be one of the greatest summations of Christ’s suffering and death. I hope that we might think this week about Christ’s suffering and death. Reread the passion narratives of the gospels. Treat this week like Holy Week and when we come back together next Sunday, we can appreciate with more gratitude, what it means that God raised Jesus from the dead.


Jesus went through all of these things by entrusting Himself to God. He gave Himself over to the Father’s will and purpose. He trusted His Father.


I want to share one more section of this letter in closing because Peter repeats the main theme of entrusting ourselves to God through times of suffering. In chapter 4.12-19 we read,


12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And

If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.


Let us entrust our souls to our faithful Creator and let us continue to do good, to conduct ourselves in ways that reflect Jesus Christ. Let our words and actions mirror the words and actions of our Savior that all may come to see the Christ and repent and be confess Christ as Lord and Savior. Amen.





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