1 Peter 2:22-25 needs to be read in context with verses 18-21. In 18-21 we have the command for slaves to submit to masters, even wicked masters who abuse (read more here). Thus, Peter is giving the slaves who are facing harsh masters an example to follow. The example is that of Jesus.
This example though is for more than just the slave. It is to anyone who is suffering unjustly. Whenever we face suffering as Christians we follow the example of Jesus.
What Jesus suffering teaches about our suffering?
However, there is a secondary point in this section that also aids Peter’s goal in this book. Remember Peter is writing to a group of Christians who are doubting whether they are in the grace of God because they are facing suffering. The example of Jesus reminds the church that
1. They follow a leader who suffered, so they should expect to face suffering as well.
2. Suffering can accomplish God’s purpose. Suffering does not mean that you are outside of the grace of God. Jesus provides the ultimate example of this. His suffering, rather than being outside of God’s will, helped accomplish the will of God.
What is Jesus example?
Peter states that Jesus provides us an example to follow (2:21). He then goes on to describe what that example looks like:
1. Jesus did not sin. The source of Jesus suffering was not personal sin. There was no sin or deceit found in Jesus. The source of our suffering should not be our own sin. In fact, Peter has already stated that if it is, there is no credit from God for enduring suffering (2:20).
2. Did not speak against those who spoke against him. When you think about the last hours of Jesus life they are characterized by the mocking of sinful men. A slap to the face followed with a pejorative comment to “prophesy who hit you.” “He saved others, let him save himself.” “He blasphemed.”
Yet despite all of this Jesus did not attack his opponents verbally.
3. He did not threaten. As Jesus was suffering he did not threaten. Again remember the lead up to the cross and the cross itself. What great temptation there would be to threaten those who were causing the suffering of Christ. Instead, Jesus asked God to “forgive them.”
4. He entrusted His life to God. During his time of suffering Jesus committed his life to God. He was confident the Father would do what was right.
Those four actions (or lack of action) are the four aspects of Jesus example we must follow while suffering. We should avoid returning evil for evil, but rather we should put our trust in God.
What Jesus accomplished through suffering?
In verse 24 Peter stops to speak of what the suffering of Jesus accomplished. As mentioned in the introduction I think this is to show the readers that suffering does not mean one is outside God’s grace, rather suffering can be used by God.
God used Jesus suffering to our benefit. His suffering upon a tree allowed us (who are dead in our sins without Jesus) to be brought to life and live righteously. It was by his suffering that we are saved!
Jesus work on the cross also allowed us to be gathered back to God. We were wandering sheep, but because of Jesus we have now been brought back to our Shepherd and Overseer.
Jesus provides the ultimate example for the one who is facing suffering. He shows us to respond to suffering and the potential value of suffering.