For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…—1 Peter 3:18
As the unbelieving world wanders farther away from biblical truth, faithful followers of Christ will increasingly suffer. When faced with righteous suffering, we are not to repay evil for evil. Instead, we are to bless those who curse us because we are called to bless and because we know that the Lord rewards those who suffer with the blessing of eternal life (1 Peter 3:9-14).
If our suffering is such that the hope of eternal reward is not enough to encourage us to persevere in faith, then remember the gospel:
Christ also suffered. When we suffer for doing good we need to remember that we are not alone in righteous suffering; “Christ also suffered.” Whatever suffering we may face in our lives, our Lord understands because He suffered.
How does knowing that Jesus also suffered and understands your suffering help you persevere in faith?
Christ suffered and died as a substitute sacrifice for sin. All sin deserves the death penalty. Under the old covenant, God allowed repentant sinners to offer an animal without defect that would receive the death penalty in their place. That’s what the sacrificial system was all about, and it pointed to Christ who as the spotless lamb of God served as a substitute sacrifice for sin. He, the righteous one who never sinned, received the death penalty for sin that the law requires for the unrighteous. While the sacrificial system required daily sacrifices, because Jesus was sinless His sacrifice was sufficient to atone for sin once and for all.
Do you understand that you deserve the death penalty for each and every sin you commit? On what or whom are you placing hope for forgiveness?
Christ suffered and died to bring us to God. While the old covenant allowed the people to approach God through the mediation of the high priest, Jesus is the high priest of a new and better covenant who gains access for us into the presence of God through His sacrificial death (Hebrews 7-10). Through Christ, we now have access into the very presence of God. Have you repented of your sins and trusted in Christ alone for salvation? No one can come to the Father except through Jesus.
How does meditating on Jesus’ high priestly work encourage you to approach God with confidence?
Christ was raised from the dead victorious over evil, sin and death. The unbelieving world will seek to make it increasingly more difficult for us Christians to live out our faith. But no matter what suffering we may face we remember that Jesus also suffered and died, though He did no wrong. But death was not the last word, for He was also raised from the dead. Christians have this hope—that if we face suffering and death, we too will be raised as Jesus was. Let us take hope in this good news and live faithful lives, not fearing suffering but rejoicing that our reward in heaven is great. Only then can we bless those who curse us.