Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 7
By his wounds you've been made whole. Only his wounds can bind our wounds. Only his stripes can mend our brokenness. Only his death can raise us to a new life. Only his blood can heal the ravages of addiction. Only the cross can redeem us from sin and the consequences of it.
We come to this part in a series of messages, of a transformed identity in Christ, when Peter is saying to us that when it comes to true heroism, you do not need to go any further than Jesus. For as true believers in Jesus, we have one only true hero. We have only one true role model. We have only one true example for us to emulate. And while the world would hold up the sports figures and the famous singers and the famous celebrities as heroes, there is only one true role model who is worthy of the name. Turn with me, please, as we follow in the series of messages from 1 Peter 2, beginning at verse 21, all the way to 25. In verse 21, he begins by saying, "For this you have been called". What? What is "this"? "For this you have been called".
Now, there are some people who say suffering, but the construction of the sentence does not lend itself to this interpretation. There are...some believers suffer. Thank God for most of us it's a temporary situation. Thank God for most of us we don't suffer all of our lives, although some people might be called to do that. But he is not saying you are called to suffering. He is saying you are called to this. This being that Jesus suffered and died on that cross. And by submitting to the will of the Father, he gave us a role model. He gave us an example to follow. He called us to emulate Christ no matter where he takes us. We are called to place our feet in the footsteps, the mark of the footsteps of Jesus, regardless of our circumstances. He called us to model what Christ has modeled for us to our children and to our community.
Now, here in this passage, Peter is quoting from the Old Testament, particularly Isaiah 53, this passage that is 1 Peter chapter 2, verses 21 to 25, five verses. Those five verses are actually the hub around which the entire Epistle revolve. Those five verses, 21 to 25, are the cornerstone upon which the whole Epistle is built. These five verses are the very core of the entire first Epistle of Peter. Some of you may be asking, "Well, if that's the case, why didn't he start with that? Why didn't he begin with the cornerstone? Why didn't he begin with the core"? Ah, great question. Because Peter wanted us to first understand our primary call. He wanted us to first revel and delight ourselves in the blessings of God that this call brings to us. He wants us, first, to be so overwhelmed by the privileges of the call of Christ on our lives. He wanted us, first, to rejoice in the blessings that we have received from his hand when he called us, and that's why we started with the seven-fold blessings.
In fact, that is why if you go up a few verses, verse 9, he said, "We were called out of darkness into light". Stay with me. Many people describe themselves as followers of Jesus. Some people use it accurately, some people don't. What does it mean to follow Jesus? It means to emulate him in every way, and here Peter gives us three, at least three, but three areas in which we can emulate Jesus if we really claim to be truly followers of Jesus and not just use it as a slogan. First of all, by not taking matters into your own hand and do your own vengeance, even if when you have the power to do it, even when you have the opportunity to do it. And secondly, by waiting patiently for God's justice to be manifested. And thirdly, by never, never compromising or denying biblical truth regardless of the cost, regardless of the price.
Let's look at these very quickly, those three. By not taking matters of revenge into our own hands. In the last message we saw that when we suffer injustice, and we have no recourse, we need to trust God for the outcome, and here Peter is building on this. He's building on it, and he's saying if you're looking for an example in this matter of injustice that you have suffered, look no further than what Jesus did. Learn how Jesus did it and copy him. Follow the example of Jesus in such matters. Again, you need to look at the context. As I told you last time, Peter was writing in the context of a total dictatorship. Back then, Christian, so when they become victims, they have no recourse whatsoever. No court system that at least have been founded on biblical principles, or no judges like we do today, who at least have a smattering of biblical knowledge.
Back then there was no justice for believers whatsoever. In our case, we can pursue all legal means, and sometimes we get dragged into court not by our own will. But if and when that fails, listen carefully, if and when that fails, we come to a dead end and face injustice. What we must do is follow the model of Jesus. It is when those in authority exercise injustice. It is when the courts of justice promote injustice. When that happens, then we must emulate Jesus. How? It's Jesus' cry to the Father at the garden of Gethsemane during the time of the greatest injustice that has ever taken place ever in human history. Greatest injustice that has ever been perpetrated on humanity. In that garden, he said, "If there some other way".
When the only sinless, perfect, pure man, God, Jesus, was spat upon and slapped on the face and lashed and whipped and made to carry a tree on his shoulder, on which he was nailed, he did not take revenge. He could have, and Peter said, "I lived with him. I know he did nothing wrong. I know he was perfect in word and in action and thought". And he could have called upon the Father to send the legions of angels, and they would have responded and showed up, but he didn't. Why? Because if he took revenge, which he could have, he would not have paid for the price and the wages and the consequences of your sin and your sin and your sin and my sin. Don't ever forget Peter was there, he watched it all. He caved under pressure and denied Jesus.
In fact, in chapter 5, verse 1, he says, "I am an eyewitness to all of this". No doubt Peter was thinking, probably as the Holy Spirit inspired him, to pin those words at the time. He was thinking of the time in Caesarea Philippi, when Jesus was telling them about the cross and the crucifixion and how he must die then rise again, and Peter wanted nothing of that. He did not wanna hear that. None of them did, but Peter was verbal about it, and Peter wanted Jesus not to go through the cross, and Jesus called him a mouthpiece of Satan. Then in the garden of Gethsemane Peter pulled his knife and chopped the ear, one of the soldiers, still hoping to stop Jesus from going to the cross. And Jesus said to him, "Put your sword away, Peter. This is not the Father's way".
The Father's way is always different from Satan's way. The Father's way is always different from the world's way. Satan is the god of this world, and the people of Satan believe that violence is the answer. But the Father's way is love is the answer. The people of the world say revenge is the answer to all relationships, but the Father, the Father's way says, "Vengeance is mine. Leave it in my hand". The people of the world say, "Get them". And the Father says, "Let God take care of them". The people of the world say, "Get them before they get you". And the Father's way says, "Be like Jesus. Trust me with the outcome. Trust me with the outcome". First, following the footprints of Jesus means that we not take revenge, even when we can, even when we have the opportunities. Secondly, following Jesus' footprints means is waiting patiently for God's justice.
Now, listen to me. If you think I'm gonna tell you that this is easy, waiting for God's justice, you would be wrong. I'm not saying that. I know it's hard. You know it's hard. Let's be truthful about it, especially when man's justice has completely failed. Nobody, nobody, on the face of the earth who's treated unjustly could ever say, "I have been more unjustly treated than Jesus". No one. No one. The worst injustice you could ever experience in this lifetime, it could never be more than Jesus. The best among us is subject to bias and self-serving attitude. The greatest among us is subject to self-deception and wrong motives.
With God my witness in heaven, I agonize in prayer. I agonize every time I'm making a decision, big or small. I agonize in prayer so as to examine my motives and cry out to God, but I cannot tell you that standing here today, that every time my motive was always 100% pure. And so, my beloved friends, even when you suffer injustice or treated unjustly, you could never say, "I was 100% pure". None of us can. Only Jesus can. Verse 22. Jesus was the only sinless, perfect, and pure. Why? Because God the Father demanded that only a perfect sacrifice would suffice to carry the sin of every repentant sinner. And because of the Father's demand of this, incomparable injustice took place.
Now I have a question for you. Are you ready? Does this mean that God approves or condones injustice? God bless you. This is the most biblically literate congregation in the world. He was himself the victim of his own injustice, but he never condones injustice. But here is a fact: no one, no one, no one will ever get away with injustice. Sooner or later, sooner or later, they will face justice, but Jesus waited patiently for this justice to take place. And then, as we know, on early Sunday morning, the Father raised him from the dead. Not only that God, thus it shows us that he is the God of justice, and his justice will take place sooner or later, and that justice will be done for us if we trust him with the outcome.
No matter how long it takes, he's gonna come through for you. But also his Word assures us again and again and again that even greater justice for Jesus is yet to come, when he comes back not as the one who was humiliated, but as the one who will be the supreme judge. Not as the one who was insulted and slapped across the face, but as the God of power and might. Not as the one who helplessly hung on a cross, but as the one who will stand upon the crest of the earth. Not as the one who was dragged before Pontius Pilate and Herod, but as the one who will rule with an iron scepter. Not as the one who is the Lamb of God, but as the Lion of Judah who is gonna put all his enemies as his footstool. That is the complete and final justice.
First, don't be anxious to take revenge even when you can. Secondly, wait patiently for God's justice. And thirdly, following Jesus' footprints means that you stand firm for the truth regardless of the price, regardless of the cost, regardless of the consequences. Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews"? Jesus could have fudged the answer and it would have worked. He could have saved his neck. He could have compromised just a little bit. He could have said to himself, "You know, I know who I am, and it doesn't matter what this guy think, and I'm just gonna shade the truth a little bit. I'll just tell him what he wants to hear. I'll give him a politically expedient answer, and I'll get out scot-free". No way, Jose. Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, "You said it, buster".
Pontius Pilate asked Jesus again, "Do you know that I have power to set you free and power to kill you"? Here's the Youssef translation, "Not on your life. You have no power of your own that's not given to you". Question: why did Jesus didn't just become ambivalent about this question? Now, watch that word, "ambivalent". This, my beloved friend, is a word that is preached in many an evangelical pulpit today. "Be ambivalent about things that we're not sure about in the Bible".
Watch for that word. Watch it, and you'll be surprised. It's so subtle. We can't be really sure of everything. We can't be really sure what is sin and what is not sin. We just need to be ambivalent and tell people we don't know. Beloved, you know and I know that there are some people who would compromise for a dollar. There are so many people who would compromise to escape an insult, let alone death and life, but not Jesus. Not Jesus. Are you a follower of Jesus? Before you answer and you say, "Yes, I'm a follower of Jesus," ask yourself the question: do I refuse to compromise my biblical conviction regardless of the cost?
In politics there is what they call the art of compromise, and that's fine for politics. They say go for the full loaf and then settle for half a loaf. They say, you know, a deal is always win-win. That's wonderful. That's great, but, beloved, listen to me: not when it comes to the eternal biblical truth. There can be no half-heartedness. There can be no half price. There can be no discount price. There can be no compromise. The world says loving people means that you love their rebellion and their sin. The world says loving people means that you love their godless lifestyle. That loving people means that you must love their immorality. Those who truly call themselves followers of Jesus must lovingly, thoughtfully, and graciously say no and a million nos, for God made only one way for sin to be dealt with. He made only one provision for sin to be taken care of, and that's by confessing it, by repenting of it.
That means that you must believe that it's his stripes on that cross that made you whole. Only his wounds can bind our wounds. Only his stripes can mend our brokenness. Only his death can raise us to a new life. Only his blood can heal the ravages of addiction. Only the cross can redeem us from sin and the consequences of it. By his wounds you've been made whole in every way, in every way, but that's not all. When you come to him, he will not only heal your broken heart, he will not only do that, but he will keep on healing you. He will keep on healing, keep on binding your wounds. He'll keep on being the shepherd of your soul, the bishop and the overseer of your soul. He'll keep on being your heavenly Father. Jesus doesn't want you to come to him so he can take revenge. He wants you to come to him because he loves you. He wants to forgive you. He wants to restore you, and he longs for that. Can you truly say, "I'm a follower of Jesus' footsteps"? Can you say, "Where he leads me, I will follow"?