“Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 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; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls”. The text of our passage we are studying tonight is neatly divided into two sections. The first section is verses 18-20 that focus on Christian servants called upon to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ. The second section is verses 21-25 where Peter turns to the Old Testament prophecy regarding Jesus Christ as the suffering servant as the motivation, the means and the model for all believers who suffer as servants. Slavery or servant-hood is a concept that is increasingly foreign to those of us in the USA. Were not the final nails driven in the coffin with the civil rights act, affirmative action, the election of Barack Obama? And all this after a century before fighting the bloodiest and most costly war between the states? But Peter starts off this paragraph on servants being submissive to their masters with a different word for servant. Most of the time we think in terms of slave, doulos, which looks at the whole social class, but here he uses, oiketas, a broader term that looks at a servant who is considered part of the household. Why is it appropriate to study this today? • The fact is that slavery and servant-hood survive on today around the world in staggering numbers. The International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations that focuses on, among other things, labor rights, put the number at a “minimum estimate” of 12.3 million in a 2005 report. Kevin Bales, a sociologist and has authored several books about modern-day slavery, estimated the number was 27 million people in his 1999 book “Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy.” In another estimate, Siddharth Kara, a fellow on trafficking at Harvard University, recently told CNN that his calculations put the range between 24 million and 32 million at the end of 2006. Years old data give us a range of 12.3 to 32 MM. • We have similar roles so we can glean proper application to our lives. Slaves made up a large portion of the early church. Think of the runaway slave, Onesimus. They had the circumstances in life most similar to Jesus Christ. An enlisted soldier and his superior, a prison inmate and the warden, a person living in low income housing who thinks they have no rights due to their extreme poverty or minority racial status are examples of roles we see today. • Jesus and His disciples consistently taught that every Christian is Christ’s slave. Mark 9:35, “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." Mark 10:44, “and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.” Romans 1:1, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,” • Slavery and servant-hood was a large segment of the Roman culture during Biblical times. There were an estimated 60 million slaves and servants in the Roman Empire in the first century. Slavery began with Roman conquests, slaves being originally prisoners of war. It was not just menial tasks performed by slaves, but doctors, teachers, musicians, actors, secretaries, and stewards were slaves. As a matter of fact all the work was eventually done by slaves. Why be master of the world and still have to do your own work? Let the slaves do the work. We have nothing to do but be idle and pampered. They thought the supply of slaves would never run out! And slaves had no rights under Roman law. Could not marry, but could co-habit. Children born were not theirs but the master’s property. But slaves did not lead a miserable or wretched life. Nor were they always treated with cruelty. Many were loved and trusted members of the family. But under the Roman law a slave is not a person, but a thing. So there was nothing like justice for a slave. And a wide gulf formed between a master and his slave. Peter’s attention is focused on a servant’s submission to his master. And this is submission in the face of suffering. Christian servants are to submit not only to “good and gentle” masters, but also to masters who are “unreasonable”. The word for unreasonable is a Greek word meaning crooked we get the word scoliosis (curvature of the spine) from this word. A “crooked” master must also be submitted to. An unreasonable master is one who is not “good and gentle”. He may be unfair, unjust, harsh, dishonest or unethical. Our normal response to such a person would be to rebel with our enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Laban was not a man of his word. Read Genesis 31:36-42 for the account of the liar Laban and his worker Jacob. There is a very good reason to submit to an unreasonable master; it finds favor, charis, with God. Listen to what Jesus said in Luke 6:32-35, “"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. "If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” Three principles for praiseworthy suffering: 1. Praiseworthy suffering must be innocent/undeserved suffering. If you are punished for doing something wrong, there is no praiseworthiness in it. So Peter is speaking here of suffering as a result of godliness not a result of sin. 2. Praiseworthy suffering must be endured with patience. We must persevere in the face of such suffering. Many people can endure suffering for a short time but Peter calls us to endure suffering patiently for as long as it takes. 3. Praiseworthy suffering is that which is patiently endured for conscience’ sake. Peter is speaking here of making a decision to patiently endure undeserved suffering with a clean conscience before God. Similar circumstances at different times may have you doing one thing one time and the opposite at another. Suffering that is pleasing to God and finds favor with Him, is suffering for doing what’s right, patiently endured for the sake of a clean conscience before God. Now here comes the kicker! We were called for the purpose of undeserved suffering. And Jesus Christ is our example to follow in His footsteps. Notice he doesn’t speak from his own experience of Christ’s suffering. He instead uses Isaiah 53 for inspired Scripture commonly known as the “suffering servant”. Why should Christians have to suffer? Here we have the answer, because Christ did. He is our example. And this should not be a surprise to us, should it? In Christ’s own words: John 15:18-21, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” Also: Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Some principles of Christ’s suffering: • His suffering was innocent suffering. We suffer deservedly when we sin or get out of the plan of God. He suffered due to His Righteousness. Isaiah 53:9, “He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth”. • His suffering was silent. We tend to yell and scream when we are punished. We even beg for mercy. Jesus uttered not one word in retaliation for his undeserved suffering. Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open His mouth”. • His suffering was a path He chose. We must realize that we too must choose this same path that may well include undeserved suffering for us to patiently endure. Philippians 2:8, “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” • His suffering was an act of faith. Peter says “He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously”. Jesus had hope in the Father and in the future He promised. He did not need to say anything. He had faith in God as the Righteous Judge. • His suffering was redemptive. Because Jesus suffered and died on the cross and was raised again on the third day, our sins were forgiven and we walk in newness of life. This is what is meant by “By His wounds we are healed.” Undeserved suffering, patiently endured with a good conscience is well-pleasing to God. It is not a burden, but should be counted as a privilege. We can indeed suffer joyfully and without a reply or complaint. We have Jesus Christ as our example and whose steps we are to follow. God has granted to us everything we need for our life in Christ. His grace provision is all sufficient.