“19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 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. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.22 ‘He committed no sin,and no deceit was found in his mouth.’23 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.” NIV
Jesus is our example in life. He is our pattern. It needs to be emphasised that He is more than just a good example. He is also our Saviour, and in verses 24, 25 we will go on to consider some of the theological implications of His death. Try as we may, we can’t come anywhere near to following Jesus’ example successfully, until we first come to know Him as Saviour.
Peter is writing at this point to Christian slaves. Many slaves were well-treated in those days, but not all of them. So what does Peter have to say to those who experience ‘’unjust suffering’’ (19)? In essence he says, ‘Follow Jesus.’ Jesus was perfect (which not even the best of us are), and He was unfairly treated. He suffered so much at the hands of sinful people. But Jesus did not hit back. Instead, He entrusted Himself to the God who always ‘’judges justly’’ (23). We know that He was vindicated. Bad men put Him to death, but a good God raised Him, and put Him on the throne of the universe. As someone said, Jesus’ resurrection is ‘the divine reversal of the human verdict’ on Him.
‘So there is your template’, says Peter. ‘Don’t retaliate, but commit yourself to God.’ The example of Jesus shows that all who do this will be in safe Hands.