Lectionary Year A
April 21, 2002
1 Peter 2:19-25

Step II: Disposition


      The passage begins with a theory. It asserts that enduring pain while suffering unjustly commends the one(s) in pain thusly. Then, even before that theory can be assimilated, a rhetorical question addresses the readers/hearers. Then, a confirmation of the theory emerges with finding God's approval in the suffering unjustly. Can we expect to go a rung higher than that? If possible, it might be in the vocation, for to this you were called. At this stage, Christ enters the picture. He is identified as suffering (also) and as exemplary, having left the example to be followed. Next, a quote calling Isaiah 53:5-12 to mind is cited. It recalls the Old Testament expectation of a Suffering Servant Messiah. Finally, it describes the addressees as those having gone astray and now returned to their Shepherd and Guardian.

      These verses move logically from theory to data confirming it, to experience. They include the readers/hearers in the throws of pain, suffering, injustice and credit and/or the lack thereof. They plant Christ right in the center of the considerations and conclude with the responses faithful believers will reach there through.


Dare we ignore verse 18? Is slavery behavior relevant to what follows? Where does being aware of God fit into suffering, even unjustly? Is living for righteousness really a subordinate part of this passage? Grammatically it seems to be. The passion and death of Christ fits into any dialogues of Scripture. Do our sins, from which Christ frees us, include our seeking credit for suffering? These elements approach answering questions, re: How can we know it's worth the suffering and pain to do right? How far astray do sheep go? Is that metaphor appropriate for intelligent followers of Christ? Who, hearing and/or reading this image can identify with it? Could it be for the Hellenists, some of the dispersed? How sure can I Peter be that we have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls?


      The living for righteousness gets overshadowed and hidden way down in the passage. Yet, when we raise it as a question, it begins gaining in status in this passage.
      The Christ event proves, once again, to be central to the Christian faith. As long as we live these questions and observations, they remain relevant to our faith journeys.

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