1 Peter 2:18-25
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the fraudulent.…
"He suffered for us"; it was during His agony in the garden that our Lord appears to have been most deeply penetrated with the sense of His afflictions.
I. THE INTENSITY OF THOSE SUFFERINGS which our Saviour experienced in the garden of Gethsemane; and,
II. WHAT HIS CONDUCT UNDER THOSE SUFFERINGS OUGHT TO TEACH US. There is, perhaps, no circumstance of the gospel at which our reason is so inclined to cavil, as the affliction which our Saviour then experienced. We cannot understand how it is possible that the Messiah, who is "one with the Father," should be thus liable to grief, and thus deeply moved at the prospect of His approaching persecutions. Our difficulty here results from our utter inability of forming any notion of the infinite magnitude of the Divine power, We can understand that in the Majesty of the Deity, He should hold pain and sorrow as His subjects; but we cannot understand His rendering Himself subject to them. We are unable to conceive that exercise of His power by which He manifested Himself as entire a master of His own infinite attributes, and withdrew Himself, as it were, from the sustaining succours of His eternal Godhead, that, as a man, He might suffer for our redemption. Yet this is what our Saviour did. If we were merely to confine ourselves to temporal views, and exclude all consideration of the spiritual cause of our Lord's sufferings, it may even then be with truth affirmed that such an accumulation of woes was never brought to bear at one moment on one man. He knew to a certainty that He had no deliverance to look for; that Judas, His companion, would betray Him; that the princes and rulers would condemn Him; that the people would reject Him and save Barabbas; and that His enemies would heap their persecutions upon Him to the last. In the mere anticipation of what He was about to undergo, our Redeemer had full cause for the agony which He experienced and expressed in the garden of Gethsemane. But, with such aggravations suggested by His own prophetic spirit as no other man ever knew, Jesus was cut off by the very sublimity and holiness of His character, from a source of succour which, under similar circumstances, has often afforded relief to other men. If they do not actually extract the sting of human suffering, they serve to divert the thoughts, and thus to allay the pain of it. But what are those passions? They are either a sullen pride which will not allow the afflicted under any circumstances to confess themselves subdued; or a fierce resentment which induces them to baffle the malice of their enemies by opposing a mask of obstinate insensibility to every attack; or an empty vanity which leads them in the lowest depths of wretchedness, and on the very borders of the grave, to angle for the applauses of the world by putting on a light appearance of unconcern. But whatever support such feelings might afford to others, they could have afforded none to Jesus in the hour of His agony. They are repugnant to the dispositions by which His gentle heart was animated. But it may be conceived that Jesus, under all His troubles, might still have found relief in the consciousness of His innocence. If there are occasions when this reflection may prove a source of secret comfort to the sufferer; there are others when it serves as the severest aggravation to his misery. If an elder brother who had mercifully interposed to save the children of their common parents from destitution, who had succeeded in placing them in a prosperous condition, should, after all, detect them conspiring with his enemies to malign and ruin him, would it be any consolation to reflect that he had not deserved such treatment at their hands? Even so must the consciousness of His innocence have affected the heart of Jesus. It must have been the most galling addition to the weight of those oppressions which were heaped upon Him by His countrymen. The consideration that they, who would be the authors of His oppressions, ought to have been bound together by the remembrance of His loving kindnesses, as His firm protectors, must have struck far deeper into His heart than ever the soldier's spear wound in His side could pierce. But not only on His own account: His compassionate nature would grieve for others; for His disciples, whom the profession of the faith in His name should render obnoxious to the enmity of their friends, and expose to persecution. But, as yet, we have only surveyed our Saviour's agony in the garden as resulting from human feelings. We will now proceed to regard it as affected by those views which would have been suggested by the religious aim of His approaching passion. Our Saviour, by His death upon the Cross, was about to pay the price of the transgressions of the whole world. He was about to suffer for our sins; and those sins for which His death was demanded, would naturally engage His contemplations. He would now see before Him the multitude of those offences for which a sacrifice was to be offered; the heinousness of them; the outrage that they were against the majesty of God; the ruin, the destitution which they had spread over the face of the earth; and the weight of the punishment they deserved. The bare idea of any one of those wicked acts which are daily committed by the cruel or the impure, is hateful to every innocent mind. What horror then must necessarily have filled the soul of our Saviour when, not singly, but in their aggregate amount, those mortal offences were brought before His holy view, as He estimated the extent of the ransom which was due, and which He had Himself undertaken to discharge? But our Lord thus "suffered for us," says St. Peter in my text, "leaving us an example that we should follow His steps." The lessons which His sufferings ought to teach us:
1. We should learn from them to submit ourselves in every condition of life with an unreserved obedience to the will of the Almighty.
2. We should learn from our Lord's conduct never to despair of the loving kindness of our Heavenly Father, but to rely upon His unfailing goodness; to look to Him for succour and relief; and to feel assured that, if He see not fit to remove our cause of sorrow, He will, in His infinite mercy, answer our prayers for assistance, by vouchsafing to our souls the ability to support it.
3. We should learn humility from the example of our Saviour's sufferings.
4. We should learn from our Lord's example the extent of that Christian love which, as His disciples, we are bound to bear our fellow creatures. Our Lord suffered for us. He exhibited, in dying for us, the fulness of that brotherly charity with which our hearts should glow towards each other. He condemned every affection which emanates from a selfish and ungenerous source, by His willing immolation of Himself for the sins of the world that had condemned Him. His thus dying for us teaches us not only the value we ought to set upon our own salvation, but the value we ought to set upon the salvation of others.
(W. Harness, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.