There were technical difficulties during the recording of the sermon last Sunday, so the transcript is provided:

Our epistle reading today is not an easy passage, and it’s especially difficult to expand on it in a short amount of time. But, we think it’s important to study it, so hopefully you will have a different perspective when you read it after this morning.

First thing I want to say is that this is a passage about Grace.

You may say: wait, what? I thought this is all about suffering. Yes, it most definitely is about suffering. But, not in a fatalistic or condoning way.  Peter is in no way approving of injustice.

I want to take us back to the beginning of Peter’s letter to lay a foundation for us. 

Vs. 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,

Right at the introduction, we get the setting of this letter. Peter is not writing this for us. This is not a letter written to Americans who never experienced being persecuted due to their faith. He’s writing to Jews and Gentiles scattered all over the place, still under Roman Rule. 

He ends his introduction by saying, in verse 3: 

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance” or in another translation “May grace and peace be multiplied to you”

So, let’s remember this: He sets the stage for what he’s about to say in this letter in the grace and peace of God.

Now, let’s look at our passage:

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.

Whether you read this as “thankworthy” or “gracious things”, the actual Greek word means Grace.

So if we read “this is Grace”, you may ask: what exactly is grace? Is it the “endurance” or is it the “suffering” itself? Clearly, the “endurance”. In the verse prior to this, we see that Peter is addressing servants and encouraging them to be submissive/obedient. 

1 Peter 2:18 (ESV): Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the unjust. 

Peter’s goal here is for the people to live under the Grace and Peace of God. Remember his introduction? 

But, he’s aware that many of the believers, dispersed throughout the area, were “house servants”. So, he goes on wanting them to remember Christ and his passion. He knows there’s injustice going on, and by no means he’s condoning it. 

What he does want is for them to remember that Christ, who was perfect, suffered under the hands of those who crucified him. Yet, he handed himself over to God – he endured all that pain because he trusted the Father and his outcome, which by the power of the Spirit, conquered death. 

The passage continues:

For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to 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. 

Before we continue and apply Peter’s teaching to us today. I need to stop and say something. 

Historically, this has been a passage that people, especially in this country, shy away from because it has been used to justify slavery and other forms of gross injustice. 

‘Oh, but the Bible says that people will suffer and be beaten, and it even says that they should accept it quietly’

Please, NO. 

There is a difference between what the Bible SAYS, and what the whole Scripture teaches. The goal of the writings of Scripture is the formation of Christ in us, so every time someone takes a portion of scripture out of context, or tries to accommodate it to any agenda that doesn’t reflect who God is – Please, stop and reevaluate what you’re reading or listening to. 

Here’s a good quote from Macrina, sister of Gregory of Nysa, who in the 4th century as one of the mothers of the church, was already teaching this: 

We are not entitled to assert whatever we want. Instead, we use Holy Scripture as the rule and norm of every doctrine, necessarily fixing our eyes upon it and accepting only that which is in harmony with the goal of those writings.”

St. Macrina 

The goal of the whole writings of Scripture, I’m going to say it again is the formation of Christ in us

That’s why we approach Scripture with humility and a desire to be like Christ. Only when we have our hearts and minds purified by Him; do we come to the Word, open to set aside our own interests, and become more like Him.

In John 15:20 (ES), Jesus says: Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…

Jesus himself spoke to the disciples about being ready to suffer. He was preparing them, by saying that their allegiance to him, their faith would require sacrifice. He was teaching them about endurance under injustice.

He actually first said this phrase ‘A servant is not greater than his master’ in John 13:16, right after he washed the disciples feet. He was teaching them about Servant Leadership then. 

One interesting thing here is that both times when Jesus said this, he uses the greek word “doulos” for the word we translate as servant, whereas Peter, here in his letter, uses the word “oiketes 

I’ll let you go talk to Rev. Dan Lewis about which one has a stronger meaning when translated as slave. I’ll just say that it’s not the one used by Peter.

What I mean is that, there is no justifiable use of this scripture in the context of the atrocity of African slavery, as some have done in the past. Furthermore, neither should this scripture be used to justify any form of injustice. 

Jesus taught his disciples to be humble in serving one another like he did, and to be able to endure injustice also like he did.

I do want to finish the reading of our passage to make a point that goes back to the beginning. Our passage, still speaking of Jesus, ends by saying:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:19-25

I started by saying this passage is about Grace. And here is what I want you to see:

How do we die to sin and live to righteousness? 

By his wounds WE have been healed. 

How do we live a sacrificial life of faith?

How do we accept the counter-cultural way of Jesus and don’t spend our lives satisfying our own interests?

How do we translate “piety” into “actions of love towards others”? 

How do we become servant leaders?

The answer to all these questions and any question you might have about how to be more like him – is found in the Grace, Peace and Love of God. 

By his wounds WE have been healed. 

If death couldn’t hold him. If the power of the same Spirit that brought him back to life is available to you and me today, then: 

Yes, that’s how we endure suffering – that’s how we die to sin and live to righteousness and justice as God has called his people to live from the beginning of time.

That’s how we become more like Christ. 

So, as you leave, Mariners’, remember: By his wounds WE have been healed.

Even when life tells you otherwise, and there’s pain and suffering, or injustice in your life, remember the kind of life he’s called you to live. A life of servanthood, endurance, and love – possible by his offering of himself on the Cross, his Resurrection and Ascension.

“May HIS grace and peace be multiplied to you”