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.…
This wonderful passage is a part of Peter's address to servants; and in his day nearly all servants were slaves. If we are in a lowly condition of life, we shall find our best comfort in thinking of the lowly Saviour bearing our sins in all patience and submission. If we are called to suffer, as servants often were in the Roman times, we shall be solaced by a vision of our Lord buffeted, scourged, and crucified, yet silent in the majesty of His endurance. We ourselves now know by experience that there is no place for comfort like the Cross. Truly in this case "like cures like." By the suffering of our Lord Jesus our suffering is made light.
I. THE BEARING OF ERR SINS by our Lord. Jesus did really bear the sins of His people.
1. How literal is the language! Words mean nothing if substitution is not stated here.
2. Note how personal are the terms here employed! "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body." It was not by delegation, but "His own self," and it was not in imagination, but "in His own body." Observe also the personality from our side of the question, He "bare our sins," that is to say, my sins and your sins. As surely as it was Christ's own self that suffered on the Cross, so truly was it our own sins that Jesus bore in His own body on the tree.
3. This sin bearing on our Lord's part was continual. The passage before us has been forced beyond its teaching by being made to assert that our Lord Jesus bore our sins nowhere but on the Cross, which the words do not say. "The tree" was the place where beyond all other places we see our Lord bearing the chastisement due to our sins; but before this He had felt the weight of the enormous load. The marginal reading, which is perfectly correct, is "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body to the tree." Our Lord carried the burden of our sins up to the tree, and there and then He made an end of it.
4. This sin bearing is final. He bore our sins in His own body on the tree, but He bears them now no more. The sinner and the sinner's Surety are both free, for the law is vindicated, the honour of government is cleared, the substitutionary sacrifice is complete.
II. THE CHANGE IN OUR CONDITION, which the text describes as coming out of the Lord's bearing of our sins. "That we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness."
1. We are henceforth legally dead to the punishment of sin. What a wonderful deliverance for us! Bless the Lord, O my soul!
2. But Peter also means to remind us that, by and through the influence of Christ's death upon our hearts, the Holy Ghost has made us now to be actually "dead to sins": that is to say, we no longer love them, and they have ceased to hold dominion over us. The newborn life within us has no dealings with sin; it is dead to sin. The Greek word here used cannot be fully rendered into English — it signifies "being unborn to sins." We were born in sin, but by the death of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit upon us, that birth is undone, "we are unborn to sins."
3. But our Lord's sin bearing has also brought us into life. Dead to evil according to law, we also live in newness of life in the kingdom of grace. Our Lord's object is "that we should live unto righteousness." Not only are our lives to be righteous, which I trust they are, but we are quickened and made sensitive and vigorous unto righteousness; through our Lord's death we are made quick of eye, and quick of thought, and quick of lip, and quick of heart unto righteousness. Certainly, if the doctrine of His atoning sacrifice does not vivify us, nothing will.
III. THE HEALING OF OUR DISEASES by this death. We were healed, and we remain so. It is not a thing to be done in the future; it has been wrought. Peter describes our disease in the words which compose ver. 25. What was it, then?
1. First, it was brutishness. "Ye were as sheep." Sin has made us so that we are only fit to be compared to beasts, and to those of the least intelligence. We "were as sheep," but we are now men redeemed unto God.
2. We are cured also of the proneness to wander which is so remarkable in sheep. "Ye were as sheep going astray," always going astray, loving to go astray, delighting in it. We wander still, but not as sheep wander; we now seek the right way, and desire to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. If we wander it is through ignorance or temptation. We can truly say, "My soul followeth hard after Thee."
3. Another disease of ours was inability to return: "Ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned." Dogs and even swine are more likely to return home than wandering sheep. But now, though we wandered we have returned, and do still return to our Shepherd. Our soul cries, "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee." Thus, by the virtue of our Lord's death an immortal love is created in us, which leads us to seek His face, and renew our fellowship with Him.
4. Our Lord's death has also cured us of our readiness to follow other leaders. Faith in Jesus creates a sacred independence of mind. We have learned so entire a dependence upon our crucified Lord that we have none to spare for men.
5. Finally, when we were wandering we were like sheep exposed to wolves, but we are delivered from this by being near the Shepherd. We were in danger of death, in danger from the devil, in danger from a thousand temptations, which, like ravenous beasts, prowled around us. Having ended our wandering, we are now in a place of safety.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.