“For this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 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.”
– I Peter 2:21-23
When we think of the cross, we primarily think of Jesus saving us from the penalty and power of our sin. At the centre of God’s purposes for the cross of Jesus is to see His perfect justice be fulfilled so that He can show mercy to sinners.
But in addition, the Bible tells us that that sufferings of Jesus is given to us as an example of how to suffer well. Theologians calls this Christus Exemplar, or Christ our example. As we face hardship, suffering, pain, persecution and injustice, we should look to Jesus who was the truly righteous sufferer. Though he was without sin and had committed no crime, he was betrayed by a close friend, arrested and beaten and tried in a kangaroo court. He was mocked, spat on, beaten, ridiculed and reviled. He was abandoned and denied by his closest friends and left alone in his time of greatest need. Finally he was executed on a roman cross, a form of death so horrendous that it was never given to women or roman citizens, but reserved for traitors and the most vile of criminals.
As Jesus suffered these horrendous things, there was no retaliation, no bitterness, no anger or revenge, no deceit or sin at all. He did not allow his hardship and suffering lead him into a sinful response. Instead, he “continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly”. As he suffered, he did not look to revenge to even the score, but he looked to God who is the Just Judge who will render all things right in the end. He was able to suffer well by trusting that God the Father would do his job and his perfect justice would win out in the end.
In his suffering Jesus is our example. Instead of seeking personal vengeance, Jesus was motivated by love for sinners and obedience to the Father. In his suffering, he sought to glorify the father, by obeying his plan and rescuing a people for his own possession.
Like Jesus we can endure hardship to display the glory of God to the watching world, so that all can see His worth.
Like Jesus we don’t have to get revenge or retaliate, but continue to trust that the Just Judge will do what is right in the end and that His sovereign plan is good, even when we don’t understand it.
Like Jesus we can suffer well.