Summary: Jesus Christ is perfect in so many ways. Peter explains to us how He is the only example we should follow.
A couple with especially irregular church attendance had been asked by their preacher to host a visiting minister for lunch. The couple obliged and put together a very special meal for the guest preacher. When they all sat down to eat, their little boy, who was accustomed to diving right in, immediately reached for the mashed potatoes. But, because the minister was present, his mother gently stopped his hand and bowed her head in hopes he would follow her example.
The boy caught on quickly. He looked around the table and saw that all of the adults were bowing their heads and closing their eyes. He was the only child present and he wanted to impress everybody, so just as his father was about to say the blessing, the little boy belted out, “Hey Dad, can I be the one who talks to the plate?”
There are so many instances in which we quickly can find out what kind of example we are leaving for others. Especially within the family dynamic of parents and children. What kind of example are we giving them in regards to our relationship with God, and its importance? What kind of example are we leaving them in regards to the relationship a husband and wife should have?
And, then, there’s the relationship between older siblings, and their younger brothers or sisters. Whether you believe it or not, those of you who are in high school or college are being looked up to by your younger siblings. And, you very often will be setting the example for them. The same can be said for our youth group, regarding the relationship the older ones have with the younger ones.
In so many facets of our lives, we are setting examples for others to follow. Whether good or bad. Whether we realize it or not. But, there comes a point in our lives in which we have to ask ourselves a very important question - “Whose example am I going to follow?” Will it be a brother, or sister, or parent, or grandparent, or a close friend? There are so many different examples - different choices - for us to follow, how are we to know which one is the best?
Well, I believe the answer to that question should be fairly obvious to us. Jesus Christ, who is described as being perfect in so many ways . . is also our perfect example. Because Jesus Christ was perfect in love, perfect in compassion, perfect in forgiveness - He naturally should be the example we follow in all things. And, there are so many different examples that he left us, it was hard for me to choose exactly what to preach on this morning.
But, as I was reading these verses from 1 Peter 2, which were read to us a moment ago, I noticed how important it was to Peter to emphasize how Jesus Christ was our example in three particular ways. So, this morning, we’re going to look at these three examples that Jesus left for us, so that - as Peter puts it - “you might follow in his steps.”
I. Willing to Suffer
A. The first, and foremost, example that Peter points to is that of Jesus’ suffering for good. As Peter says, it’s really no great achievement if we are suffering for some wrong-doing. We’re simply reaping the fruit of our actions. But, if we do good in our lives, and suffer for it, we are simply following the example of Jesus Christ.
This is a repeated theme in the book of Acts. As we read the accounts of the first century Christians who were constantly being punished for doing what was right. Whether it was preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus, or healing the sick, or driving out demons - they were continually facing persecution for righteous living.
This is one of the major themes in the book of Revelation, which we’ve been studying on Wednesday nights. If you read the letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor, found in chapters 2 & 3 of this book, you’ll see that there is a repeated theme of impending persecution that these churches were going to have to face. But, at the end of every one of these letters, Jesus concludes with a promise to those who overcome. To Him who overcomes, Jesus promises great things in heaven.
So, if we are going to be following the example of Christ, we must be willing to suffer. Turn with me to Philippians 1:27-30, where we can read what Paul has to say about suffering. [READ]
If we live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ, then we ought to expect some form of suffering. Now, I don’t have a very high pain threshold. I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve only had one cavity. I’ve never spent more than a few hours in the hospital. So, needless to say, I’m grateful that we don’t live in a time or place in which we would be suffering great physical abuse for our faith.