The Riches OF GRACE
“hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11
Robert W. Reed
Jesus Christ – Our Example
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”
1 Peter 2:21
+ The Perfect Model +
The Lord Jesus Christ is much more to us than just a Savior, and a Savior He is. Without His sacrifice we have no salvation. He is our perfect example in faith and practice. We are to follow in His steps as our pattern for the Christian life. The question we must ask ourselves is, “Do we want to be like Him, and are we willing to make it our vocation in life?” According to our text, it is possible for every believer to follow His steps and we are commanded to do so. May it be our heart’s desire to be more Christ-like. In pursuing this goal we must study His life, teachings, purpose, attitude, and behavior. His entire life was one of love, sacrifice, humility, patience, prayer, compassion, meekness, goodness, etc.
“We may as well hope to be saved without Christ as to be saved without conformity to Christ.”
- John Flavell
In this article we will sum up Christ’s example to us in three words: suffering, submission, and sinlessness. But first, let us consider the word example in I Peter 2:21. The word example means to trace or copy. The Greek word hypogammos that is translated example here is found nowhere else in the New Testament. The word is composed of two Greek words; hypo meaning under, and graplo meaning to write (underwriter). It is a writing copy for one to imitate, as children are taught to copy letters of the alphabet, putting a paper over the top of them to trace, or the teacher writing them at the top of the page, or on a blackboard to be copied. This helps the child to stay on the perfectly formed lines of the teacher. They are learning to imitate the alphabet. Jesus Christ left us an example. He is the perfect copy that we are to strive to produce in our lives, following carefully in His footsteps.
Let Us Follow His Example in His Sufferings
The Lord is our perfect example in suffering. To follow His footsteps denotes a close and diligent following. His chief example is to endure patiently unjust suffering. The immediate context in I Peter chapter two shows the virtue of suffering for righteousness (vv. 19-20). In vs. 21 we are called to suffer and in vs. 9, we are called to salvation. This is our vocation. It says in vs. 21 that “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” Christ’s suffering unjustly is encouragement to the believer to also do the same. To follow Christ is to endure unjust suffering. In vs. 23, Christ committed Himself to the Father and did not retaliate when persecuted, “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” We are to respond in the same manner when we are threatened and reviled. The heart and theme of this epistle is suffering (I Peter 1:6-7; 2:12,15, 21,25; 3:14; 16-17; 4:12-13; 5:10). The Lord’s first teaching in the New Testament is the Sermon on the Mount showing the Christian how to respond to persecution in Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” There are many other Scriptures in the New Testament pertaining to the believer and suffering (Matthew 10:16-40; 16:24; Acts 5:40-41; 14:22; Philippians 1:29; 3:10; II Timothy 2:10; 3:12; I Thessalonians 1:5-8). Most of us do not like to be inconvenienced, but remember we are called to follow our Savior in sufferings for His sake.
Let Us Follow His Example in His Submission
In I Peter 2:23, The Lord Jesus committed Himself to the Father, “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” He submitted to the Father’s will in every way. He committed His cause to God and did not take matters into His own hands, but trusted Him. In John 8:29, He said, “For I do always those things that please Him” and in John 9:4, He said, “I must work the works of Him that sent me.” In Gethsemane the night before His death, he uttered these words, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” While hanging on the cross He said, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
In Philippians 2:5-8, we are told to have the mind of Christ, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” His life was one of sacrifice, humility, and obedience. He emptied Himself of the glory He had with the Father in Heaven to come to this earth to die for our sins. That is submission in the highest sense. Let the Lord be our example in submission as we follow in His footsteps.
Let Us Follow His Example in His Sinlessness
In I Peter 2:22, we see the Holy Nature of our Lord and Savior, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” The Lord Jesus was divine and we are not, and we know we can never match His sufferings, submission, or sinlessness. But, we are commanded to follow His example. There are many verses that show His perfection (I Peter 1:19; I John 3:5; Hebrews 4:15; II Corinthians 5:21; John 8:46; 14:30; Luke 23:4). Even one of the dying thieves said, “This man has done nothing wrong.” Jesus is our perfect example in holiness, purity, and righteousness. In I Peter 2:24, we are told as Christians that we are dead to sins (the opposite of dead in sins) and that we should live unto righteousness, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” As a believer, we are freed from the power and punishment of sin. God saved us from our sins not in our sins. Much of the New Testament is written to show Christians how to live for the Lord. In I Peter 1:15-16, we are commanded to be holy and in chapter 2:11, we are to abstain from fleshly lust. The Bible in Romans chapter six clearly shows our position in Christ and how to deal with sin in our life. In Romans 8:13, we are told to mortify sin, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” This can only be done by the Spirit of God that dwells within. In I John 2:6, we are to walk as He walked, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” That is, to walk with Jesus is to walk like Jesus. In I John 3:2-3, every believer is to purify himself as he looks for the return of the Savior.
According to Romans 8:29, the child of God is predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. One writer said, “This is a work which is begun here and perfected after death, but that work is not consummated in Heaven unless it is commenced on earth.” According to II Corinthians 3:17-18, our life is changed from one degree to another by the Lord, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” If we are partakers of the divine nature, then our lives may become the expression of our Lord (II Peter 1:4). One of the puritans said it this way, “Let him put on the life of Christ, or put off the name of Christ; Let him show the hand of a Christian in works of Holiness and obedience, or else the tongue and language of a Christian must gain no belief or credit.” May we learn Christ-likeness in attitude and behavior. Amen.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31
Victory Baptist Church
Pastor Robert W. Reed
14473 Bellingrath Road
P.O. Box 257
Coden, Alabama 36523