Jesus Christ – Our Perfect Example

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:21-24).

In this passage, Peter explained that Jesus left an example for us to follow. There are many people we may look up to as examples in life – parents, peers, older Christians, successful individuals, and more. Yet Jesus was not just an example; He was the perfect example. This passage shows us how He left a perfect example for us.

An Example of Suffering

Peter began by saying, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example” (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus knew He would die on the cross, even telling His disciples ahead of time that it would happen (Matthew 16:21); yet He did not try to avoid it. He knew why it was going to happen – He would suffer and die for our sins (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:4-5) – but He loved us enough to endure it. He even had the power to prevent His death, having authority to call down “more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53-54); but He did not change His mind. He suffered beyond what any of us will ever have to endure. In doing so, he left an example for us.

The Christian life is one that will involve suffering. Paul told Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). When we do what is right and suffer for it, we must patiently endure. Peter made this point right before emphasizing the perfect example of Jesus: “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:20). As we face these hardships and trials, we must do so without abandoning our faith.

An Example of Sinlessness

While Jesus endured a horrible death on the cross along with all of the suffering that led up to it, He “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Even though all men have sinned (Romand 3:23), Jesus did not. When He was tempted, He used the Scriptures each time to resist (Matthew 4:1-11). The chief priests tried to “obtain false testimony against Jesus,” but they “did not find any” (Matthew 26:59-60). There was no reason to condemn Him to death or even to some lesser punishment.

We are to strive to follow Jesus’ sinless example. John explained that this was the reason he wrote his first epistle: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin…” (1 John 2:1). When Jesus spoke with the woman who was allegedly caught in adultery, He told her, “Go…sin no more” (John 8:11). God has extended His grace to us, yet we must not use this as an excuse to sin. Evidently, some in Rome had this misconception. Paul sought to correct this when he wrote, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2). If we are following Christ, we are to strive to overcome sin in our lives.

An Example of Reliance upon God

While Jesus endured suffering, He “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). When His enemies “reviled” Him, He did not respond in kind. Isaiah, prophesying of Jesus’ suffering, said, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). He came to do the Father’s will (John 6:38) and relied upon the Father for help in carrying out His work (Luke 22:42-43).

We have been called to do the will of God. Jesus said that the one who “does the will of My Father” will “enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21). As we strive to do His will, we must “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart and do not lean on [our] own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). As we face suffering in this life, let us trust in God and the hope that He offers. Paul described his attitude when he “despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). As we face difficulties and circumstances beyond our control, we need to recognize our dependence upon God and rely on Him.

An Example of Sacrifice

Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24). As we already noticed, Jesus did not go to the cross on account of His own sins (1 Peter 2:22); He died for our sins. Peter explained later in this same epistle, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18). He freely gave His life as a sacrifice for us (John 10:17-18). As Paul explained in his letter to the saints in Rome, Jesus died for us while we were “helpless,” “sinners,” and “enemies” of God (Romans 5:6, 8, 10).

Because of His willingness to sacrifice for us, we must be willing to sacrifice our lives for Him. Paul told the Romans, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1). We should be able to echo the words of the apostle: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). John pointed out that this also means we should be willing to sacrifice for our brethren: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). We need to put the Lord and others ahead of our own personal interests and be willing to make sacrifices.

Conclusion

As Peter concluded this section, he reminded us of how we had strayed from the Lord: “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). Now that we are following Him, we must stay with Him. If we stray again, we must return to Him as our Shepherd and Guardian – our leader and protector. Let us submit our lives to Him and follow His perfect example.


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