1 Peter 2:19-25 – The sheep suffer like the Shepherd. In the second reading, Peter calls people straying sheep. Sheep are associated with straying and wandering off from the shepherd and the flock until they get lost and in danger of their lives. It is our nature to wander into sin, to carelessly leave the leadership of God, and to go our own way. Modern people are known for their mobility, insecurity, restlessness, a lack of roots, and loneliness.
Righteous living in the face of injustice demonstrates reliance on God’s mercy and grace. Christians who suffer for the sake of the Gospel find favor with God and they witness to His power.
There are, of course, wounds and pains we each endure. Separation which leads to divorce produces a broken heart. A Cancer diagnosis makes us feel weak and helpless. We may react to the news of the death of a loved one with anger. All these losses cause us to question “why did I deserve this?”
This loss. This brokenness. The separation from those we love, the hurt we experience, the pain we feel is all summed up when Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Christ died so we could be reconciled with God. Christ died not for the godly, but the ungodly.
The Lord calls Christians to live out their faith in the midst of suffering. Christ also suffered for you. Our sufferings pale in comparison to what Christ suffered for us. Christ first and foremost is our redeemer and savior. As you bear the cross, in Him you find strength. He is your sufficiency.
Death is the consequence for sin. Christ’s death was for our sin yet He bore them in his body as His own. Because of Christ’s crucifixion believers are now dead the sin so they may live new lives for Him presenting themselves to God as instruments of righteousness. Peter will declare, “by His wounds we have been healed. We find life and forgiveness because of Christ’s sufferings.
Luther has commented, “We crucified Him with our sin. We are still far from suffering what He suffered. Therefore if you are a pious Christian, you should tread in the footsteps of the Lord and have compassion on those who harm you. You should also pray for them and have ask God not to punish them. For they do far more harm to their souls than they do to your body. If you take this to heart, you will surely forget about your own sorrow and suffer gladly. He we should be mindful of the fact that formerly we, too led that find of unchristian life that they lead, but that we have now been converted through Christ.” (Luther’s Works 30:86 copyright © Concordia Publishing St. Louis Fortress Philadelphia, 1955-86 American Edition)
Thank You Lord that You truly are the Father of mercies and God of all comfort and I pray that just as You have used many of Your children to draw alongside me and accompany me through those troubled times, that You would take my life and use me as a vessel of comfort and solace to others, who are facing similar difficulties and are themselves in need of comfort and help. Use me I pray to comfort others who are suffering affliction, with the godly comfort with which I myself has been comforted by You. I ask this in the name of Jesus,
- Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘The Crucifixion of our Lord’ copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use