When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23 ESV)
I came across this verse tonight in my own quiet time and felt compelled to share it. When we focus on the suffering that Jesus Christ endured on the cross at calvary, we oftentimes focus on the pain and suffering. Since was God, he could have just snapped his fingers and the pain would have disappeared. Personally, I understand that the pain was necessary for him to exemplify the need for us to have a perfect lamb sacrificed for our sin. For it is said that in our weakness, He is glorified; Jesus came to do just that, and for that, I am indebted.
But what I stumbled upon in my reading was a clear statement that God could have responded with a vengeance, or a judgement… one that the pharisees deserved. I think about my reaction today while driving. In three separate instances while driving home, I felt justified using my horn to publicly alert (and shame) the poor decisions drivers around me made, all of which placed me and my vehicle in physical danger. I think about how quick I am in responding to little trespasses upon my own ‘right.’ My study bible eloquently says, “It is common to long for retaliation in the face of unjust criticism or suffering, but Jesus behaved like the meek lamb of Isa. 53:7.” The context of this passage is submission, and the lesson is Jesus was able to entrust himself and those who persecuted Him to God because he knew that God would make things right in the end.
I guess for myself, extending far beyond my occasional road rage, I’m compelled to entrust my sufferings to God as well. It’s easier to entrust my suffering to God when I feel like my circumstances in life are difficult, and no single person is culpable of being blamed. But I think that when there is a specific target trespasser or persecutor, I’m very quick to point the finger. It is not my natural inclination to think, “God will make things right” even though that person or people group are infringing on my personal boundaries. Examples that I can think of are classmates that take advantage of others, patients with an entitled attitude, church members with a consumer mentality, and the self righteous person (i think we all know someone like this). What is most compelling to me is that Jesus’ response is not the same as the modern/cultural teaching of ‘forgiving and forgetting.’ I don’t believe that Jesus ever forgot the suffering He endured; the further teachings of Paul prove it. I believe His initial response of enduring the cross wasn’t a sign of weakness. It was strength and determination, not in himself, but in God. Jesus defered to God for God’s judgement. As a man, Jesus submitted to God, trusting in God’s promise. He relinquished the responsibility of judging men, and instead, focused on His own responsibility of fulfilling the prophecy and dying on the Cross. To me, that’s real strength.