“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:22–25 ESV)
What Jesus Did
Entrusted the wrong to God
“But continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (Verse 23) Jesus “continued to entrust” himself to God. Notice this is not a one-time action but an ongoing activity. He continued to do this. Over and over. What did he do?
The word here means, to hand something over. Here is the action: I have something; now I give it to you. By giving it to you, I’m not responsible for it anymore. It’s like I don’t need to worry about it anymore. Why? Because it’s out of my hands now. It’s not my responsibility. I don’t have to feel the need to make it right. “Jesus kept ‘handing over’ to God every dimension of his life, including the fate of his enemies.” (Thomas R. Schreiner, The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude, p. 144).
What did Jesus do when Judas came walking to Gethsemane with the mob to arrest him? Kiss him on the cheek? How would you feel to be betrayed in such fashion? What might you want to do as Judas leaned in for the kiss? Pow! Only as God, POW!!! Talk about injustice. Jesus felt the emotion—the same emotion as us, same sense of betrayal—but he did not retaliate. Instead, he gave that wrong to God. Is this some kind of mind game?
No, look at the rest of the phrase, “to Him who judges justly.” (Verse 23) Here is the absolute key. Jesus’ holy character did not allow any sin to go unpunished. No sin ever will. Hear me. Nobody gets away with anything! There is payday someday. Every sin will be paid for. God’s holiness and justice require that every wrong against his holy character will have its just punishment. As Hebrews reminds us, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)
Jesus knew that. Jesus knew hades and hell. Jesus knew the absolute justice of God. Jesus had full confidence in his heavenly Father’s commitment to punish fully and eternally every wrong, every sin, every violence, every betrayal, every unjust suffering. That confidence in the justice of God freed Jesus from seeing his personal need to right every wrong. Rather, He knew God the Father had his back. He would take care of it. Paul picks up this point in Romans 12:19—“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”
When does God pay back the wrong? Some of it he builds into this world. The reward for sin is the consequence of sin. Or as we have said, We don’t break the Ten Commandments; they break us. The person who is sinfully wronging us is living a broken and selfish life. It has its own bitter rewards.
Primarily though, this is in the future. Nobody gets away with anything. There is a coming judgment from God in which every injustice done will be punished—Severely. Eternally. Jesus knew this. He didn’t need to punish Judas or Caiaphas or the Roman legion or Pilate or whoever goes down in history as actually driving the nails through his hands. God’s got it. Instead, what did he do? He consciously handed that offense over to his Father.
So if right now we could peer into hell and see Hitler, Judas, Mao, Stalin, Dahmer, and the 9/11 murderous terrorists, and we were asked after seeing their present condition, “Did they get away with it?” We would say, “No way.”
You may say, They were unbelievers. But there’s no condemnation for Christians. What if the people wronging me are Christians? They don’t go to hell. And yet they have done this or that, aren’t they getting away with it? Here is Peter’s response: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
This sobering verse tells us what happens to unjust suffering caused by fellow believers. The tree highlights the Old Testament statement that “a hanged man is cursed by God.” (Deuteronomy 21:23) Jesus was cursed for us. His body became the spiritual reservoir containing the guilt of our sins. He bore those himself.
“By his wounds.” (1 Peter 2:24) The KJV says, “by his stripes” you have been healed. Each of these clauses emphasizes that the one who had committed no sin was made sin for us; our atoning substitute. The one who had committed no crime was made the criminal for us. The one who had not caused a single unjust suffering himself suffered the guilt for the unjust pain inflicted by other Christians.
So we discover that all the wrongs done by anyone against anyone are made right. Where? For unbelievers, in hell. For believers, on the cross. Since I am myself a transgressor and my guilt is part of what he bore, now I can see other peoples’ wrongs against me as no worse than any wrong I have done against God. “The suffering of Christ was the recompense of God on every hurt I have ever received from a fellow Christian.” (John Piper, Future Grace, p. 268)
Was Jesus’ death for that wrong sufficient for what Tom did to me? Was Jesus’ death on the cross a sufficient payment for the sin that Jane did against me? Or must I add to the punishment by retaliating; by taking matters into my own hands? Was the cross sufficient payment or not?
The Christian response to injustice is to let God take care of it. Hell or cross. Either way, it’s out of my hands and I am emotionally detaching myself from bitterness, anger, and revenge. God’s got it.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2015 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here