“Ye should follow His steps: …Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.”1 Peter 2:21-23
Peter is writing to Christian slaves. They have done their best to be true to Christ in working for heathen masters. They have carefully guarded their testimony. Their unappreciative masters have repaid all their goodness and kindness with unjustly-inflicted suffering. The natural reaction is retaliation, self-protection, and self-vindication. Did thoughts of this sort give them broken sleep? Did such thoughts overshadow their praying? Did they find themselves frustrated and wishing for just one chance to make their case? Did their Scripture meditations always return to the same theme?
The answer to all of that is the example of the Savior.Though so cruelly exposed to His mockers’ venom, He did not retaliate by pointing out their wrongs, which were fully known to Him. Though almighty, He did not protect Himself by threatening His adversaries. Though sovereign Judge, He did not take His case into His own hands, but His words were, “Surely My judgment is with the Lord” (Isa 49:4). Such moral beauty is unnatural. It is our example, but it seems unreachable.
Paul was suffering for the gospel, for a work God had given him and for doing it with all his heart and soul. As he suffered confinement, adversaries poured salt into his wounds by stirring up contention as they preached Christ to further their own agenda and add to his affliction (Phi 1:15, 16). Yet he rejoiced! And he was determined to continue rejoicing (v. 18)! How? Why? All he needed was the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. As he allowed the Spirit to work in him, Paul magnified Christ in his body (v. 20). He could see that, even through the cruelty of others, God’s purpose was moving forward. This is the example of the saint, enabled by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. No retaliation, self-protection, or self-vindication, just joy.
Mary suffered a sudden thrust of false accusations from an overwrought Martha (Luke 10:40). No retaliation, self-protection, or self-vindication came from Mary. Not a word! Calmly, the Lord protected her and vindicated her: “Mary hath chosen the good part.” But the Lord spoke in such a wonderful way! Did He take Mary’s side against Martha? No, He doesn’t take sides against His own. He wanted them both at “His side.” The Lord so spoke that Mary remained a learner, even more determined to know His heart. He spoke to draw Martha to the same occupation and to a deeper knowledge of Him. From the example of the sister, we learn the most desirable of all outcomes: each was drawn closer to the Lord.
Peter, Paul, and Mary point the way to an unnatural, eternal beauty.