God’s Word for You
1 Peter 2:23-25 By his wounds you were healed
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, April 18, 2022
We return now to the second half of Peter’s first letter. If God wills it, we should complete this book by the end of May.
23 When he was insulted, he did not insult in return. When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself carried our sins in his body on the tree so that we would be dead to sins and alive to righteousness. By his wounds you were healed.
Peter is still writing in the context of slaves and their obedience as well as everyone’s general slavelike obedience to our superiors under the Fourth Commandment. He turns to Christ as our example for obedience, which cannot be denied, but naturally Peter recalls the act of redemption, which was completed under complete obedience. To be obedient is “to be ready to do whatever is good” (Titus 3:1), and in his obedience Christ accomplished our greatest good: He became obedient to death—even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). Such obedience! He did what we cannot explain. He completed what we cannot understand. “He cannot suffer, and yet for our sakes suffered.” He was the priest making the sacrifice and was at the same time the sacrifice itself. He is the one who takes the flesh of the sacrifice and offers it to his own family (Deuteronomy 15:20) and they consume it in the presence of the Lord: “Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26).
Listen again to the language of Peter’s account of the crucifixion: “He himself carried our sins in his body on the tree.” The guilt of our sins was transferred to him. How was this done? It was carried out by the command of the Father and the willingness of the Son: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This was unwittingly prophesied by the high priest of the Jews: “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50). And Peter adds the final judgment, prophesied by Isaiah: “By his wounds you are healed” (Isaiah 53:6). His wounds were the payment, along with his life, for “it is the blood that makes atonement” (Leviticus 17:11).
25 For you were like sheep going astray, but you are now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (EHV)
This verse is certainly written for all Christians. Each of us who has ever sinned, which is every single one of us, has been like a sheep going astray. The miserable condition of the sinner is that we disobey our Shepherd and wander off into all sorts of danger. The sheer cliffs of temptations, the slippery slopes of fascination that lead to the sure plummet into a life of sin, the quagmire and quicksand of human reason that destroys faith, and the poison of false doctrine that paralyzes and kills—all of these are traps for Christians that we encounter every day. Christ our Shepherd and Overseer keeps us safe. He sends his angels to fight invisible skirmishes, battles, and wars on our behalf, but he himself is Lord over all.
“Overseer” (episcopos, ἐπίσκοπος) is sometimes translated ‘bishop,’ and even a church like ours that does not regularly use the title bishop can surely understand the significance of the true Bishop, for we are “‘bishoped’ (overseen) by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” And wherever Christ our ‘Bishop’ appears, that is where the congregation should be, which is to say, where Christ is preached and the sacraments are administered, there is the true church, and nothing should be done apart from Christ and his command.
Christ restores us to the fold through the same means of grace by which he brought about our conversion in the first place. This is especially the domain of preaching, the means of the gospel without an earthly element, since it accompanies the law to convict and terrify the straying soul and call us away from danger by crying “Stop! Turn back!” Then the gospel calls us back with the gracious promises of Christ, as he explained to his prophet: “Therefore,” the Lord himself says, “I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There she will sing as in the days of her youth” (Hosea 2:14,15). Like a loving but jilted husband, the Lord comes with a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, and a diamond ring, to implore his adulterous bride to come home again and be truly loved and cared for. What is spoken by Jesus of marriage is also true of the bond of the Christian to Christ: “What God has joined together, let man not separate” (John 10:9). For if we tear ourselves away from the Shepherd, we will surely be lost. Put another way: “You do not support the root, but the root supports you” (Romans 11:18).
Put your trust in him without any hesitation or reservation. His sacrifice on the tree of the cross means our life forever under the eaves and boughs of the tree of life. “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” (Romans 6:5). Remain in Jesus Christ like a flower remaining in a pot. He will shine his light on you, and water you with the water of life, and he treasures and loves you. For you are no wildflower he glimpsed in the forest, but you are the blossom he has brought home to the place prepared for you. It is our eternal joy to be cherished by Jesus.
Pastor Timothy Smith