May 31 – Our Ultimate Example

“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.”

1 Peter 2:23


Jesus Christ, as the sinless sufferer, is the only model we need as we endure life’s trials.

Prior to his death in 1555, the English Reformer and martyr Hugh Latimer expressed his convictions this way: “Die once we must; how and where, we know not…. Here is not our home; let us therefore accordingly consider things, having always before our eyes that heavenly Jerusalem, and the way thereto in persecution.” Latimer knew much about how to face suffering, but he knew that Jesus Himself was the final model regarding how to deal with suffering and death.

That model is summarized in today’s verse, which is a quote from the Suffering Servant passage in Isaiah 53. All the horrible physical and verbal abuse Christ endured just prior to the cross, along with the evil tearing down of His perfectly virtuous character, was unjustified, and yet He did not strike back. As the Son of God, Jesus had perfect control of His feelings and powers.

Jesus found the strength to endure such an abusive final trial when He “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Literally, Jesus kept handing Himself and all His circumstances, climaxing with His death on Calvary (Luke 23:46), over to the Father. The Son had complete trust in God, the just and fair Judge of the entire earth (see Gen. 18:25).

We can follow His example and endure persecution and unjust suffering without answering back, whether it be in the workplace, among relatives, or in any social setting. The key is simply entrusting our lives, by faith, to a righteous God who will make everything right and bring us safely into His glory (1 Peter 5:6–10).

Stephen and Paul are notable role models for how we can triumph over life’s persecutions and hardships, even death. But those great men were themselves merely “fixing [their] eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2). We must do the same.


Suggestions for Prayer: As you daily experience life’s normal difficulties and challenges, ask God to help you better remember the perfect example Jesus set in facing the worst of pain and suffering.

For Further Study: Read Hebrews 1:1–2 and 4:14–16. Compare and contrast what these passages tell us about Christ’s deity and humanity. ✧ What do they reveal about the superiority of His example?[1]

2:23 He was patient under provocation. When He was reviled, He did not pay back in kind. When blamed He did not answer back. When accused He did not defend Himself. He was wondrously free from the lust of self-vindication.

An unknown author has written:

It is a mark of deepest and truest humility to see ourselves condemned without cause, and to be silent under it. To be silent under insult and wrong is a very noble imitation of our Lord. When we remember in how many ways He suffered, who in no way deserved it, where are our senses when we feel called to defend and excuse ourselves?

When He suffered, He did not threaten. “No ungentle, threatening word escaped His silent tongue.” Perhaps His assailants mistook His silence for weakness. If they had tried it they would have found it was not weakness but supernatural strength!

What was His hidden resource in bearing up under such unprovoked abuse? He trusted God who judges righteously. And we are called to do the same:

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore, “if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink, for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:19–21).[2]

  1. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

As a disciple of Jesus, Peter personally can testify to the suffering of Jesus. He was present in the courtyard of the high priest when Jesus was tried by the Sanhedrin (see Matt. 26:57–75; Mark 14:53–72; Luke 22:54–62). Peter was fully acquainted with the trial before Pontius Pilate; the chief priests and elders accused Jesus of many things but he made no reply (refer to Matt. 27:12–14). And Peter knew that when Jesus hung on the cross he suffered without complaint (Matt. 27:34–44). The content of verse 23 is such “as we might have expected to be written by an eyewitness” who reflected on the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7–9 (also see 5:1).

Peter depicts the patience and endurance of Jesus and suggests that we follow Jesus’ example. However, the tendency to retaliate when we are insulted is always present. For instance, Paul reacted instantaneously to the command of the high priest Ananias, who ordered “those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth” (Acts 23:2). Paul invoked the judgment of God: “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall” (v. 3). By contrast, Jesus prayed for his enemies: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34; and see Acts 7:60).

In the last part of verse 23 Peter states the reason for Jesus’ meekness. Writes Peter, “Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” That is, Jesus did not invoke God’s wrath upon his persecutors and demand retaliation. Jesus knew that his suffering was divinely ordained. He had to take upon himself the curse that was resting on the human race in consequence of man’s sin. Jesus was fully aware of God’s righteous judgment against sin (see 2 Cor. 5:21). For this reason, Jesus entrusted himself and his cause to God, the righteous judge.[3]

2:23 reviled. To “revile” is to pile up abusive and vile language against someone. Though verbally abused, Christ never retaliated with vicious words and threats (3:9; cf. Mt 26:57–65; 27:12–14; Lk 23:7–11). entrusting Himself. “To entrust” was “to hand over to someone to keep.” Christ was “delivered” to Pilate (Jn 19:11); Pilate “handed Him over” to the Jews (Jn 19:16); Christ “handed over” Himself to God, suffering in surprising silence, because of His perfect confidence in the sovereignty and righteousness of His Father (cf. Is 53:7).[4]

2:23 when he suffered, he did not threaten. 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. He could do so because he continued entrusting both himself and those who mistreated him entirely to God, knowing that God is just and will make all things right in the end. Likewise believers, knowing that God judges justly, are able to forgive others and to entrust all judgment and vengeance to God (cf. Rom. 12:19). Every wrong deed in the universe will be either covered by the blood of Christ or repaid justly by God at the final judgment.[5]

2:23 entrusted himself Peter uses Isa 53:7 to highlight Jesus’ exemplary behavior in the face of threats and physical suffering. As the faithful Suffering Servant, Jesus illustrates how God’s people—both slaves and freepersons—should endure hardship.

the one who judges justly Peter likely draws this from Isa 53:10, which notes that the Suffering Servant’s anguish pleases Yahweh because of its results. God, who observes that the righteous are suffering, will ultimately reward their endurance and punish those who are afflicting them (see Rev 6:9 and note).[6]

2:23 reviled: Although He was insulted and abused, Jesus remained in control of His words and did not utter slanderous remarks in return. threaten: Although He suffered physical pain, Jesus did not cry out that He would get even or even that He desired to inflict pain on those who were causing Him agony. committed Himself: The Greek does not have Himself, and thus does not say whom or what Jesus kept giving over to God. Most likely, He constantly entrusted both Himself and His revilers to the power of God in order to let God deal with both as a righteous judge. When we pray, we are to forgive (i.e. release to God) any offenses. It is not ours to “get even” (Mark 11:25, 26).[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2265). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, p. 110). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Pe 2:23). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2409). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Pe 2:23). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 1682–1683). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

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