Sermon Notes & References

“The Imitation of Christ”

1 Peter 2:21-25

June 23, 2019

21 For unto this you were called, because Christ also suffered on your behalf, leaving behind for you a pattern, in order that you should follow closely upon His footsteps. 22 ‘He who did not sin neither was there found deceit in His mouth;’ 23 who, being verbally abused, did not return that abuse; who suffering, did not threaten; but yielded Himself to the One who judges righteously; 24 who He Himself bore up our sins in His body upon the cross in order that renouncing sins, we should live in righteousness: ‘by whose wounds you were healed.’ 25 For you were as sheep wandering astray, but now you are turned around unto the shepherd and overseer of your souls.   (RGH)


A. The Context

    1. Submission to Law (2:13-17)

    2. Submission to People (2:17-21)

B. “Imitatio Christi”

    1. The Model Sufferer (v. 21) Footnote

    2. The Ultimate Innocent (v. 22) Footnote

    3. The Final “Kenosis” (v. 23) Footnote

C. Christ Our Saviour

    1. The Sin-Bearer (v. 24) Footnote

    2. The Shepherd & Guardian (v. 25) Footnote

D. Following Jesus

    1. Lesson 1 – His Example

    2. Lesson 2 – His Lordship

Endnote  1 Peter 2:21-25. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “The Imitation of Christ”


A. The Context

    1. Submission to Law

        a. this chapter, verses 13-17 call for believers to submit to the law of the land

        b. as such it parallels Paul’s message in Romans 13

        c. on the principle that, by and large, such laws are for

            (A)    the punishment of evil deeds

            (B)    the rewarding of good deeds

        d. and such submission is in keeping with God’s purposes in ordaining human rulers, government and social order

        e. for such submission is ‘for the Lord’s sake’


    2. Submission to People – verses 17-21

        a. the next section, is addressed to household slaves, domestic servants

        b. but they are just one segment of society to which the verses apply

        c. for the teaching is that individuals are to submit to masters

            (A)    in that time those masters had arbitrary rights to punish

            (B)    though not in the same way, the principle today is the same: ‘An honest day’s work for an honest dollar earned.’

            (C)   that we have a responsibility of submitting to those we serve

        d. this may mean that at times we must suffer silently

            (A)    not because we are chastised for doing a poor job

            (B)    but because we are Christians; persecuted for Christ’s sake

        e. for this finds favour with God, is pleasing to God

        f.  it falling into the purposes of God, that Christians should suffer in the same way as Christ suffered, an irrefutable evidence that the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16)


B. “Imitatio Christi”

    1. The Model Sufferer  v. 21

        a. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,”

            (A)    to this end we noted that ‘suffering for righteousness’ sake’

            (B)    is simply following the pattern that Jesus Christ has laid out for us by His own life and the suffering He experienced

        b. Christ is the Great Example

            (A)    just because for the past century or more there have been some religious teachers and preachers who so emphasised this truth

            (B)    so much so as to imply that following His example was how a person would go to heaven – the heresy of salvation by works

            (C)   as to ignore that salvation is by Christ’s substitutionary death in our room and stead

            (D)   such over-emphasis does not mean we should neglect this truth

        c. it was this verse, and others, that led Thomas à Kempis in the 15th century to write ‘Imitatio Christi’ – The Imitation of Christ

            (A)    if we are to suffer, let it be because we are walking in Christ’s footsteps – using the ‘What would Jesus do?’ principle

            (B)    the illustration has been given of this verse of the youngster, following his father through the snow, carefully stretching out his legs so as to put his feet exactly in the prints of his father’s

            (C)   if we do the same with our walk, taking care where we put our steps that they be in Christ’s footsteps

                 (1)    we will become examples to others

                 (2)    indeed, Paul in a number of places did so

                 (3)    “Brethren, join in following my example …” (Philippians 3:17)

                 (4)    “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; …” (Philippians 4:9)

                 (5)    “… offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example.” (2 Thessalonians 3:9)

                 (6)    “Be imitators [followers, mimics] of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

        d. Does that seem too High and Holy for us to achieve? It shouldn’t if we are truly seeking to follow our Lord Jesus


    2. The Ultimate Innocent      v. 22

        a. “who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth;”

            (A)    but let us not deceive ourselves, or have Satan deceive us:

            (B)    though, we may be able

                 (1)    by the grace of God

                 (2)    and the power of the Holy Spirit

                 (3)    so that we can be, like Paul, an example to others

                 (4)    even so far as we follow the example of Jesus Christ

            (C)   we will always be, in this life, but a flawed pattern

        b. for the Lord Jesus Christ was sinlessly perfect as we cannot be

            (A)    after 40 days of testing by Satan

                 (1)    He had not fallen in any way

                 (2)    so that Satan had to leave Jesus until a more opportune time

                 (3)    but return to tempt as Satan might, Jesus never fell nor failed

            (B)    Jesus could say with full confidence to the false religious rulers, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?” (John 8:46 NAS) – for they could not.

        c. Jesus fulfilled th prophecies in Isaiah 53:9, and Zephaniah 3:13 as the true last remnant of Israel: doing no wrong, telling no lies and without a deceitful tongue – this the Scriptures affirm to be true

            (A)    “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 NAS)

            (B)    “… a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;” (Hebrews 7:26 NAS)

            (C)   “And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.” (1 John 3:5 NAS)

            (D)   “He {God} made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NAS)

        d. so, if we suffer for the sake of Christ, having done no wrong, remember that He suffered much more even as He was much more innocent


    3. The Final ‘Kenosis’      v. 23

        a. “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;”

        b. the title to this verse comes from the Greek used in Philippians 2:5-8

            (A)    “5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

            (B)    it is from kenow, to empty, in verse 7: to lay aside one’s rights

            (C)   Christ’s death by the death on the cross

                 (1)    a death by execution as an evil-doer

                 (2)    on the cross which was a cursed & shameful death

                 (3)    was the final step in that emptying of Himself

            (D)   and He did so

                 (1)    obeying His father

                 (2)    leaving the results of His obedience in the Father’s hand

        c. I would like to draw your minds to just a few examples of how Jesus Christ bore out the words of this verse

            (A)    When he was reproached as a glutton, a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners, all the reply he made was, that Wisdom is justified of her children; …

            (B)    when he was charged with casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils, he defended himself, … with strong reasonings …

            (C)   when he was said to be a Samaritan, and had a devil, his only answer was, that he had not, that he honoured his Father, …

            (D)   and when he was reviled on the cross, by those that passed by, by the chief priests, and Scribes, and the thieves that were crucified with him, he made no return, he opened not his mouth, and much less in a recriminating way. Endnote

            (E)    finally, when He was crucified, His prayer was not vengeful, but ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ Luke 23:34

            (F)    fulfilling Isaiah’s words, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7 NAS)


C. Christ Our Saviour

    1. The Sin-Bearer    v. 24

        a. “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

            (A)    we have arrived at that final ‘kenosis’, and we find

                 (1)    the humiliation for God the Son all the way to the cross

                 (2)    was not simply God’s grand gesture to man, but purposeful

                 (3)    it was love expressed and effectual

                 (4)    it is God’s remedy for sin, for man’s failure in the Garden

            (B)    the results are infinite and eternal

        b. we spoke of Christ’s substitutionary death

            (A)    and even in doing so we cannot understand it

                 (1)    that my sinful acts spawned of my fallen, sinful nature

                 (2)    could be laid upon the completely innocent Son of God

                 (3)    and removed by the cross so I bear them no more

            (B)    Paul describes this in Colossians 2:13-14, “13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us [and] which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

        c. so that now, the believer is alive; truly alive; alive forevermore

            (A)    we have been, in union with Christ, raised to newness of life

            (B)    that disease of sin: that eats away our life

            (C)   has had God’s remedy of the cross applied to bring full healing

            (D)   so that on this account we are enabled to walk in His steps


    2. The Shepherd & Guardian v. 25

        a. “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

        b. in this passage which refers to the suffering of our Saviour

            (A)    again there is a reference back to Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 53 of the sufferings of Messiah

                 (1)    as is repeated in Handel’s Messiah so that it sinks in

                 (2)    “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” (Isaiah 53:6 NAS)

            (B)    think back to Jesus’ teaching concerning the Good Shepherd

                 (1)    it was really an autobiography of Himself

                 (2)    “I am the Door, ... I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:7, 9, 11, 14)

            (C)   and we have been those wilful, wandering sheep

        c. but now we have been returned,

            (A)    by the grace of God

            (B)    by the work of His Holy Spirit

            (C)   to the place of relationship & fellowship with God for which we have been created

                 (1)    He is the Shepherd: the one who leads (and we should follow) and feeds (us with the living bread) and pastures us for rest

                 (2)    He is the Guardian, or Bishop, or Overseer – the Greek word is Episcopos – one watching over or a watchman – Protector

            (D)   so that we should give glory to God through the Lord Jesus Christ living out through our lives – whether we suffer or prosper – to bear testimony to the gospel of Jesus Christ.


D. Following Jesus

    1. Lesson 1 – His Example

        a. Footsteps of Jesus

Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,

Come, follow Me!

And we see where Thy footprints falling

Lead us to Thee.

Footprints of Jesus,

That make the pathway glow;

We will follow the steps of Jesus

Where’er they go. Endnote

        b. can we indeed sing that with our full intentions?

    2. Lesson 2 – His Lordship

        a. The Lord is my Shepherd, I will not want’ has a corollary (a consequent truth): if Jesus is my Shepherd, then He is my Lord!

        b. for that is one of the roles contained in the second part of His title in that last verse: the title Bishop or Overseer

        c. we sheep have to answer to our Shepherd King