Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:20b-25
Follow in the Footsteps of Jesus
Why is the Christian lifestyle hard to follow?
20b If you should suffering for doing something good, know this is God's grace working in you. 21 God called you to this kind of life, because Christ suffered for you. He left you an example so you might follow in his footsteps. 22 After all, he "did not sin; he never lied." 23 Jesus did not abuse others when he was abused. He did not threaten others when he suffered. Instead he offered himself to God, the just Judge. 24 He bore our sins when he died on the cross, so we could be freed from sin and live with God. We were cured by the wounds he suffered. 25 Before, you would like sheep who wandered away. Now, you returned to your shepherd and protector.
20 For what sort of fame (is there) if, sinning, you (should) endure being beaten? But, if, doing good, you (should) endure suffering, this (is) grace from God. 21 For into this you were called, because CHRIST suffered on your behalf, leaving behind an example for you, so that you might follow in HIS footprints,
22 WHO "did not commit sin, deceit was not found in HIS mouth,"
23 WHO, being abused, did not return abuse, suffering, HE did not threaten, HE gave himself over to the (One) judging rightly, 24 HE bore our sins in HIS body upon the wood (of the cross), so that, having been relieved from sin, we might live in the righteousness, by whose wounds you were healed. 25 You were as sheep, being deceived, but now you were returned to the SHEPHERD and the GUARDIAN of your souls.
2:20 "you (should) endure" is actually "you will endure." The force of the future tense implies possibility (hence the subjunctive "should").
2:22 "did not commit sin, deceit was not found in his mouth" is from Isaiah 53:9b.
By now, most of us know the fundamentals of the Christian faith: Christ died for our sins so we could live in heaven with God after death. Any school-aged child in religious education can state that tenet of faith. But, when we translate that tenet from Christian faith to Christian lifestyle, the way gets tough. Just as Christ suffered for the good of others, we, too, must be willing to face suffering.
When life gets tough, we might be tempted to react out of weakness. We might be willing to lie our way out of the situation, abuse those who abuse us, even threaten those who are weaker than us. Such reactions reenforce the cycle of sin. The oppressed become the oppressors. The abused child becomes the abusing adult. The liar spreads the ever growing lie.
But, Christ broke the cycle of evil in his suffering and death. He was not deceitful, he did not oppress or threaten others. He simply gave his life to his Father. In doing so, he bore the full force of our evil. By breaking the cycle, we were freed from our sin. Now we live with God.
Obviously, the cycle of sin still exists in the world. We can, however, stop it in our lives. We have an example to follow. When we walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we will suffer, but we will prevail over evil, simply because he has already claimed the victory.
How has life been tough for you? How has Christ inspired you and strengthened you in your fight to remain faithful?