Sunday, November 14, 2021

“Follow In His Steps” [Matt's Messages]

“Follow In His Steps”
As Foreigners and Exiles - The Message of 1 Peter
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
November 14, 2021 :: 1 Peter 2:18-25

This part of Peter’s letter flows out of our current memory verse that I studied closely two weeks ago, 1 Peter 2:11&12. Let’s recite it together again:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

In looking at today’s passage of holy Scripture, I have some good news and some hard news.

I have some good news–really really really good news!

And I also have some hard news. It’s not bad news, but it’s not light or easy to receive either.

Here’s the good news: The sinless Savior Jesus Christ Himself bore our sins in his  body on the Cross, so that you and I might die to sins and live for righteousness; by Jesus’ wounds we have been spiritually healed! You and I were like sheep going astray, but now we have been returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls!

Isn’t that good news?! That’s the best of news. That’s the gospel. That’s the story of our salvation. You can see that I’ve pulled that news from verses 24 and 25. Some of my favorite words in the whole Bible.

The good news, the really really good news is that Jesus suffered for us, suffered a terrible injustice for us on the Cross, and that suffering has saved us for all eternity!

So here’s the hard news: 

God wants you and me to follow in Jesus’ steps.

God wants you and me to follow Jesus in His steps.

That’s the title of this message, and it’s drawn right out of the last four words of verse 21, “Follow In His Steps.”

The famous novel by Charles Sheldon comes out of this verse, In His Steps. When  I was a kid, I had a comic book version of that.

The old WWJD bracelets came out of asking the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” inspired in large part by verse 21.

We are called by God to follow in Jesus’ steps.

Which sounds really nice, doesn’t it?

I mean look at that cover of our bulletin! Cute little sandals.

Where Jesus goes, we’re supposed to go.

Jesus is our example.

It’s sounds nice...until you realize where Jesus actually walked.

Jesus walked right into injustice. Jesus stepped right into unjust suffering. Jesus stepped to the Cross.

And apparently, God wants us to follow Him there.

Not in all of the same ways, of course. Only He is the Savior. Only Jesus can die for our sins and heal us by His wounds.

But we can and should suffer injustice well.

Twenty years ago this weekend, I entitled my message on this very same passage, “What Would Jesus Do With a Raw Deal?”

I warned you that this was going to be hard.

It’s tempting to skip over this part or just skim over this part of 1 Peter. Because it’s not what we want to hear. I want to hear that I am loved. I want to hear that I am saved. I want to hear that I’ve been returned to the Chief Pastor and Overseer of my soul. 

But I don’t want to hear that I’m going to have to suffer along the way.

And yet that is God’s Word to us today. Do not listen to smiling TV or Internet Preachers who teach a “Prosperity Gospel” of health, wealth, and blessing, blessing, blessing all of the time, time, time.

We have lots of blessings! We should count them one by one. Especially this time of year. But God has not just called us to follow Jesus into blessing but also into suffering. Even unjust suffering. In His Steps.

The Apostle Peter’s main concern in this section of his letter is evangelistic. He is concerned about our witness to the world. Peter wants the family of foreigners, the elect exiles to live such beautiful shiningly good lives among our unbelieving neighbors that though they want to say that Christians are trouble, they are proved wrong in the end and instead are drawn to Jesus and glorify God on the day that He visits us.

And we said last week that that’s not easy for a whole mess of reasons. But that when we do, it silences the slander and does not besmirch the good name of Jesus.

Jesus gets the glory!

That’s the big idea here. Submission for the Lord’s sake.

And last week, it was submission as citizens or subjects in civil society. V.17

“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

In this next passage (our passage for today, verses 18 through 25), Peter turns to the slaves among the churches in Asia Minor and directly addresses them.

Now, you and I in the United States in 2021 probably cannot read the word “slave” without connecting it in our minds to race and to the evil, barbaric, iniquitous race-based chattel slavery that was a terrible injustice practiced for 250 years on American soil and which continues to have evil effects in its ramifications on our society 150 years after its abolition.

This slavery, however, the slavery that Peter knew in the Roman world was not exactly the same thing as what often jumps into our minds. Roman slavery wasn’t necessarily race based or built upon kidnaping, man-stealing. And the slaves (the word here is for a household servant, the servants) were not intentionally kept uneducated as so many in the American South were. In fact, Roman empire servants were often better educated than their masters! Slaves could be teachers, musicians, actors, secretaries, even doctors. And in many cases, there were ways of working out of slavery. So, for many, it was more like indentured servanthood or long, protracted employment which one was stuck with, with very few if any rights.

But that still didn’t make it a great way to live.

Slavery is never called “good” in the Bible.

It was not like marriage, something God designed to be good.

Slavery a human invention that is always problematic. We were not designed to own each other. And we were not designed to be owned by other humans either.

But sometimes we find ourselves living under human authorities that we would not choose. And God cares about how we act, as His representatives, when we do.

Now, elsewhere, the Bible says that if you are enslaved and you can gain your freedom, do so (1 Corinthians 7). This passage is not saying that there is no time to get out of slavery. It’s just telling us how we should behave when we are in it.

In fact, all of the seeds it takes to undermine and eventually overturn the human institution of slavery are found in the Bible, as well. I wish I had more time to go into that. But that’s not what Peter is talking about here.

What Peter is talking about here is our witness as Christians.

Specifically, how we witness to our Lord when we are treated badly. As slaves so often are.

Let’s look at it. Verse 18. Peter is going to tell the slaves the same thing he told all of us to do in verse 13. Look at verse 18.

“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

So just like last week, the command is to submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake[!] to our earthly masters.

And I think that we could easily translate this to our worklives. We should submit ourselves to our bosses, our supervisors. The people we work for. Our employers.

To submit means to place yourself under the authority of another.

It’s not easy, but it’s good.

And when we do it well, the Lord gets the glory. 

When we do our jobs well, our God gets the glory, right?

That’s one of the things we pray for each other when we do our Worship at Work interviews here on Sunday mornings? We pray that we would submit ourselves to our bosses so that our Lord would get the glory.

Because people are watching.

They are watching how we do our work.

And they are watching to see if and how our God affects how we serve in our worklives.

Especially when things are not going well there.

Now, I have to point out how Peter is both calling for our submission and also being subversive at the exact same time.

Yes, Peter is saying that we need to be submissive our human authorities even the ones that stink.

But who does he say that to? Peter doesn’t talk to the masters here. He doesn’t say, “Make sure you get those household servants in line.”

Whom does he talk to?

He talks to the slaves. And he treats them as free moral agents.

Peter tells them to make the voluntary choice to submit to their masters in all respect.

Remember what he just said in verse 16! Look up at verse 16. “Live as free men!”

That’s just 2 verses away. He is telling the Christians in the first century that are enslaved in Asia Minor that they are actually free people.

Those men don’t own you. Just like last week when I said that America does not own us. Those “masters” don’t own you. They aren’t better than you. You are not inferior. You have dignity and value and worth. Verse 16 says that you “live as servants of God.” Not of man!  (Do you see how subversive this is?)

And now that you know who you are, you can choose for the time being to submit, to respect.

Not because those men are stronger than you or have bigger guns or have some piece of paper. Don’t submit for those reasons.

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake.

This is a free moral choice that Peter is calling them to.

But it’s still not easy. Because some masters are good and considerate, but others are simply rotten.

And Peter says that we need to submit to both kinds! Look at verse 18 again.

“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” 

The Greek word is “skolios” where we eventually get our medical word “scoliosis.” Some bosses are crooked. Some bosses are cruel, unjust, rotten. And we are still supposed to submit to them with all respect.

Now, this does not mean that we should do crooked things if our crooked bosses tell us to. We should be holy in all that we do. Always do the right thing.

But just because our boss is harsh and we don’t like their harshness, does not mean that we stop submitting to their authority when they tell us to do legitimate things.

If your boss says to meet you at the Kwik Fill tonight because you’re going to rob the till, you say, “No!” even if it gets you fired.

But if your boss says to empty the trash, but he’s a real pain about it, what do you do?

You empty the trash, with all respect.

Again, if you want to make a change and have the freedom to make a change, then go ahead by all means make a change. But while you’re there, be a model employee.

Even for the bad bosses. Especially for the bad bosses!

Because people are watching.

And they are making decisions about your God by watching your life.

“Submit yourselves to your masters with all respect.”

That’s not what we want to do, is it? No. We want revenge.

We want to get someone back. We want payback.

Have you noticed how much revenge plays into our entertainment these days?

Every show is about getting what’s due you. Payback.

Clap back.
Fight back!
Strike back!
Fight fire with fire!

All of the movies are revenge movies.

“So and so lost his family, and now he’s getting his revenge.”

And that tells you something about what our culture thinks is important.

And there’s always a funny little throwaway line as the “good guy” blasts away the “bad guy” or as he drops the match onto the oil slick. 

Or if it’s somebody quitting because they had a bad boss, it’s “I’ll show you what to do with this job!”

But Peter says, “Submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

Why? Three reasons. Here’s number one:


Submit like this, “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.”

Because he has God on his mind. “For the Lord’s sake.”

The slave isn’t just thinking about himself in this situation. He’s thinking about God.

Do you think about God when you’re at work?

See, other people are watching you when you work, you should be watching God.

Other people are keeping their eyes on you when you work, you should be keeping your eyes on God.

He should always be on the back of your mind.

Reminding yourself that you are loved by Him.
Reminding yourself that you are chosen by Him.
Reminding yourself that you are seen by Him.

And that He will someday fix everything.

And that He will reward your good works.

“For it is commendable [by God!] if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is [mindful] of God.”

Now, that word “unjust” is very important to Peter.

There is no reward on the way, according to Peter, if the suffering you suffer is deserved. Look at verse 20.

“But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”

Now, this is what I call “a raw deal.” You didn’t do anything bad to deserve it, and you get a reprimand. You didn’t do anything bad to deserve it, and you get a beating. You didn’t do bad anything to deserve it (in fact, you may have done something really morally good), but you got chewed out for it, or docked pay for it, or worse.

And Peter says, “People are watching how you respond.”

Of course you can pursue justice. You can pursue it within the system of your work and the legal system around you (Acts 16:35-4). Those are good and godly things to do, too. This is not saying you can’t or shouldn’t file a grievance. 

But how to do you treat that person who has mistreated you?

You go onto Facebook and tear off a rant, right? You tear them down. You make sure that everybody hears your rage-filled side of things.

And what if the justice system is unjust?

Then it’s bitterness and rage and burn the whole thing to ground!

It’s retaliation and payback time!

Peter says, “be conscious of God” and act accordingly.


“To this you were called...”

This whole follow in Jesus’ steps thing is not something that we will do naturally. It takes supernature. It takes grace. It takes calling.

God is calling!

God is calling you and me to suffer FOR DOING GOOD.

I told you it was going to be hard today.

I don’t want to say this.
I don’t want to hear this.

I don’t want to hear that God has called me to suffer unjustly and endure it.

I don’t want to bear up under the pain of unjust suffering.

What button do I push to get out of that?

I want to be the master not the servant.

But what I really want is to answer God’s call. Verse 21.

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”


Because we are conscious of God.
Because we are called by God.
Because we are to copy God the Son.

Jesus was a servant Himself.

And He shows us the way.

The word there for leaving you “an example” is like a drawing placed under another sheet of paper and then retraced by a student. Our life is to be a copy of Jesus’: His priorities, His values, His loves, His character, His choices.

And Jesus CHOSE to endure unjust suffering.

Jesus was handed the “rawest” deal of all. V.22

In the words of Isaiah 53, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

Jesus did not ever do anything sinful or wrong. 

He was perfect and spotless and holy and clean, and YET, He suffered.

The sinless Son of God suffered! V.21 said He suffered for us!

The one Person in all of the universe who deserved to suffer the least, suffered the most.

And how did He handle it? Like a Boss. V.23

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate [‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?’ “He saved others, let him save himself.’] When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate!” when he suffered [the pains of crucifixion!], he made no threats.”

Remember this from the end of the Gospel of Matthew a few years ago?

Remember how majestic Jesus was?

No retaliation. No threats. No bluster and swagger and insisting on His rights. No clap back. No trolling the trolls. No fighting fire with fire. No giving someone their comeuppance.

Also no weak and servile wimpishness either. Right?

Jesus was no doormat. He held His head up high.

He was a freeman! He was owned by no man. Jesus was no slave of man even when He was the suffering servant.

He was conscious of God! Look at the end of verse 23.

“Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Instead of mistreating those who had mistreated Him, Jesus gave Himself over to His Father.

Jesus remembered that He was loved.
Jesus remembered that He was chosen.
Jesus remembered that He was seen.

And that His Father would reward Him for doing what was good even when He was suffering unjustly. “[He] entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Jesus knew that justice would be done and be seen to be done in God’s perfect timing.

And three days later, He was vindicated!

And that’s our model!

We don’t ultimately look for justice from the people around us. The best they will ever do is approximate justice.

But God’s justice will be perfect. Every wrong done to us (and they are major wrongs!) will be made right either in the Cross or in eternity.

So we don’t have to live for revenge.

We have something better coming. We have perfect justice on the way.

So we can be like Jesus holding up our heads high.

Imagine these noble slaves holding up their heads as they submit with all respect.

I am loved.
I am chosen.
I am seen by God. So I can do the right thing. 

So we can be like Jesus holding up our heads high even when the world comes at us!

And taking it with grace and graciousness and peace and submission and respect.

Wouldn’t that blow the minds of the world around us?

Is that how the Christians you know act?

Is that what we are known for?

Loving our enemies like our Lord told us to? Like our Lord showed us to?

I don’t know how things are going for you right now.

Maybe you’re getting a raw deal. You’re doing what is good, and you’re getting blasted for it.

For Christians, that’s normal. We are supposed to expect that.

The question is what we do next.

We can try to solve it. We pray for that and work towards that. We certainly don’t go along with evil. We abstain from sinful desires that wage war against our souls.

We will be tempted to do the wrong thing in our worklives.

And we will be tempted to retaliate and blast those who blast us.

But we are supposed to follow our Lord’s example.

No sin, no deceit, no revenge, no threats.

Just entrusting ourselves to Him who judges justly and follow in Jesus’ steps.

That is hard to do.

But remember the good news! Jesus did it all before us showing us the way and changing the direction of our lives for all eternity. Verse 24.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins [abstain from sinful desires] and live for righteousness [doing good]; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Follow in His steps.


Previous Messages in This Series

01. "Elect Exiles" 1 Peter 1:1-2
02. "A Living Hope" 1 Peter 1:3-7
03. "Angels Long To Look Into These Things" 1 Peter 1:8-12
04. "Be Holy In All You Do" 1 Peter 1:13-16
05. "Live Your Lives As Strangers Here In Reverent Fear" 1 Peter 1:17-21
06. "Love Each Other Deeply, From the Heart" 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
07. "But Now You Are..." 1 Peter 2:4-10
08. “As Foreigners And Exiles” 1 Peter 2:11-12
09. "Submit Yourselves For the Lord's Sake 1 Peter 2:13-17