Lesson 28—Christ the Example
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:18
Lesson Goal: To better understand the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we are discussing one of the greatest verses in all of Scripture concerning our salvation. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Peter has written a great deal about the sufferings his readers are encountering. With the words of Isaiah 53:3-7 burning in his heart, Peter now directs their attention to the example of suffering found in our Savior Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 3:18, he clearly presents some of the greatest facts of Christ’s death, as he explains why Christ died and what his dying and death mean to us.
Before we dig into the vast treasures of this verse, would you pause and sincerely ask God to speak to your heart and to the hearts of everyone in your class? Please take a moment and ask God to lead and guide your teacher with His wisdom. Finally, would you ask God to give you a teachable spirit and a hungry heart to learn more of Him?
“For Christ also suffered” (verse 18)—Peter directs his readers back to what he had just written in verses thirteen through seventeen, by using the conjunctions “also” and “for.” In this way, he is again reminding them that they should not be shocked or discouraged by suffering. He now points to the fact of Christ’s sufferings and death. Peter was no doubt remembering the facts of Christ’s death, but he is specifically recalling His sufferings. Peter establishes a true connection between Christ and his readers (suffering). He wants them to understand the common ground of Christ’s sufferings and their sufferings, but he also wants them to understand the uniqueness of Christ’s sufferings.
“once for sins”—Greek word hapax means “not requiring repetition.” Peter wanted his readers to understand the great truth that Christ suffered and died because of sin—their sin and, I remind us, our sin as well. “Sin caused the sinless Christ’s death” (MacArthur). Peter wants his readers to understand the greatest, most supreme example of suffering for righteousness’ sake; Christ’s death was “for sin,” but not His sin. It was for our sin He died. “The suffering of Christ was unique and definite in that He offered Himself as a sin offering once for all” (Schreiner).
➢ With prayer, write in your own words what it means to you personally that Christ died for you.
➢ What does it mean to you personally that Christ suffered and died as a result of your sin? (Read 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Hebrews 4:15.)
“the just for the unjust”— Again Peter wants his readers to understand that Jesus Christ was absolutely, perfectly just (or righteous). He was completely, totally sinless.
IMPORTANT TRUTH: As sinners, we deserve to die and to be separated from God. We, at our very best, are sinful, unrighteous and unjust. (Read Isaiah 64:6.)
➢ Describe your righteousness in the light of a holy and righteous God.
➢ What does this truth say to a works-based salvation?
IMPORTANT TRUTH: Jesus Christ willingly took upon Himself the entire penalty due the unrighteous. (Read again 2 Corinthians 5:21.)
“that He might bring us to God,”—In these words, Peter gives the specific purpose of Jesus’ sufferings and death. Peter wants them to understand that Christ’s sufferings exceed all our sufferings. Christ died to bring us to God. Our sin separates us from God. Our sin makes us unacceptable to God. On the cross, Jesus took our sins upon Himself. On the cross, all our guilt, shame, and sin were transferred (rest upon) to Him. As a result of His death, all of His righteousness, goodness and acceptance before God were transferred to us. Read 2 Corinthians 5:21 again; as you read, listen and receive this great word of truth.
The blessed point of exchange, where our sins were exchanged for His righteousness, was on a cross that rested upon a hill called Golgotha.
➢ With prayer and thought, please finish this statement: At Calvary, I gave Jesus my
and He gave me His
“being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit”— Writers and commentators have presented various interpretations of this phrase, but I wish to keep it Town Creek simple. The Town Creek interpretation is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, and on the third day rose from the tomb. He was dead, but He was raised from the dead. Death had no claim on Jesus Christ.
Questions for Life Focus
What does it mean to be “in Christ”? Read Ephesians 2:13.
What does it mean not to be “in Christ”?
Understanding what Christ has done for you, as His follower, what can you now do for Him? Please be specific in your answer.