Tuesday, 5 November 2019
…who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 1 Peter 2:23
The words of Peter are a continuation of the thought of the previous two verses. He noted that as Christ suffered, so that act was an example for us to follow after Him. In this, Peter cited Isaiah 53 which said that Christ committed no sin, and that there was no deceit found in His mouth. Now Peter continues that thought with, “who, when He was reviled.”
The words continue to speak of Jesus. It is true that He was reviled throughout His ministry. It seems there was always someone there to speak ill of Him, such as ascribing His work of casting out demons to the power of Beelzebub. That is but one of many examples of how He was reviled. But Peter is surely being more specific and speaking of the reviling He faced just prior to His crucifixion. This is the context of Isaiah’s words.
In Matthew 26, this is recorded concerning His treatment –
“Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?’”
To revile means to say harsh things and make verbal assaults against another. Such words are intended to demoralize another, which is exactly what occurred as Christ was being so mocked and accused. However, Peter then says that He “did not revile in return.” This is more fully revealed in the complete set of words found in Isaiah 53:7 –
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.”
Jesus could have reviled His accusers during His ministry, but He rather rebuked them and spoke in a manner of how the prophets spoke. He warned that judgment was coming upon them, in an attempt to wake them up and turn them from their ways, but He did not revile. And when He was being purposely abused by those who came against Him just prior to His crucifixion, He could have reviled at them in return for their words towards Him. But He maintained His composure and remained silent.
Peter continues with, “when He suffered, He did not threaten.” When He was illegally struck and mocked by His accusers, He could have said, “You will be judged for this and punished by God.” But instead, He allowed them to have at Him without any such threatening statements. He had warned them throughout His ministry, and their hearts were hardened to His warnings. At the time of His trial and execution, He held His words and allowed them to fulfill the plan and purpose of God in Him. As it says, He instead “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
In the Greek, there is no object for the verb. It essentially reads, “He gave Himself over to (?) judging justly.” Because of this, the object must be inferred. Some say, “His cause.” Others infer “His insults and injuries,” meaning His revilers and their actions against Him. The NKJV, in accord with others, says “to Him,” meaning God. This would certainly be in accord with what Peter has already said –
“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.” 1 Peter 1:17
This seems the best choice here. It would not be speaking of the righteous judgment of Pilate or Caiaphas because their judgment, although ordained by God, was not a just judgment. Peter has just shown in verse 2:19 that one can suffer wrongly, and yet he should still be subject to the authority over him.
However, if this is speaking of God, the obvious question then should be, “If this is righteous judgment, and Jesus is being judged, then He must have done something wrong, yes?”
Judgment comes from wrongdoing, so how can it be that Jesus, who never sinned, is being judged? The answer is found throughout the Bible, and in both testaments. We have sinned, but God graciously allows our sin to be transferred to an innocent substitute. This substitute is then killed, thus removing the sin.
As it says in the book of Hebrews though, the blood of bulls and goats (Old Covenant sacrifices) can never take away sin. Instead, they were accepted by God until the time when Jesus’ more perfect sacrifice came. Jesus gave His life on the cross for the sins of all people who, by faith, accept what He has done. God righteously judges our sin in His own Son. Jesus’ death is what removes our guilt. This is exactly what Peter will next write about as he continues with his words to us.
Life application: The great news is that not only is our sin removed through the death of the Lord Jesus, but He came back to life because “it was impossible for death to hold Him.” He never sinned, so not only did He remove our sins, but they had no binding effect on Him as well.
Now, by the power of the resurrection, Jesus promises eternal life to all who have had their sins likewise removed. Think of what this means logically. Our sins are gone; death comes through sin; therefore, we can never truly die again. Though we die in our mortal flesh, our eternal souls have been made alive in Christ. Someday we will be given eternal bodies as well. In addition to conquering death, Jesus did it without reviling those who wrongly accused Him. Behold! The perfect Son of God who died to give us new life!
What a glorious Gift we have in our Lord Jesus! What an incomprehensible story of faithfulness, mercy, and grace! O God, how can it be that You have judged our sin in Your own precious Son? And even more, You have given eternal life to those who come to Him in faith because of His victory! Glory to You, O God! Amen.