April 4, 2017 – Tuesday
Read: 1 Peter 2:23-25
Focus: vs. 24
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
I recently ran across the story of Rev. James Caldwell who served in the Army as a chaplain from 1776 to 1781. He was active during the Revolutionary War. He’s a fascinating character who, when his company ran out of musket wadding at the battle of Springfield, in New Jersey, ran to a nearby Presbyterian church and brought back a number of hymnals. These hymnals were known as “Isaac Watts Hymnals,” named after the hymn writing minister. Caldwell is quoted as shouting, “Now put Watts into them, boys!” He earned the nickname “The Rebel Priest” and “The High Priest of the Rebellion” from the British. They even offered a reward for his capture and burned his church to the ground. After that, Caldwell began preaching with his pistols lying on either side of his Bible. The British shot and killed his wife and he died about a year later in service to his country.
I struggle with Christ’s example some times more than others. I’m a fighter and I hate injustice. I speak up when I see it and you can be sure I’ll speak even louder when it’s happening to me. Yet Christ’s example was one of non-violence, especially when his own life was on the line. Some Christian leaders have taken this to mean Christians should always remain passive, even when their own lives are in danger. Still other leaders have seen the call in the Word to fight against injustice and join the battle when necessary. Throughout history, you will find both examples.
In our passage, Peter is referring specifically to the final hours of Christ’s life when he went willingly to the cross. He could have stopped it and he certainly could have stood against the injustice of the false charges being brought against him. We are reminded that Christ had a higher call and his death on the cross accomplished so much for us. So he let it happen. They hurled insults and he didn’t retaliate. He suffered but didn’t fight back. “He himself bore our sins” on the cross and “by his wounds you have been healed.” Today I am reminded that Jesus bore my sins on the cross. He paid the penalty for me. He took the punishment I deserved and healed me. The death of Jesus takes away my sin.
It’s interesting that Peter is writing these words to us. He’s the one who pulled out his sword when the soldiers showed up in the garden to arrest Jesus. He’s the one who swung that sword and cut off the ear of the soldier before Jesus told him to stop. Instead, Jesus heals the man’s ear and allows them to arrest him without any further fight. What happens next is a travesty of justice; but it is through that travesty that Jesus sacrifices himself for me. He bore our sins on the cross.