We concluded our studies last week by looking again at our need not to be surprised when purifying trials come our way but instead to rejoice in them (1 Peter 4:12–13). This theme of the proper response to suffering is the predominant emphasis of Peter in his first epistle. From the very beginning of this letter, we read that as Christians we will inevitably suffer at the hands of other people. This suffering is used by God in many instances to purify His people so that their faith might become praiseworthy (1:6–7).
Though other portions of Scripture make it clear that our suffering sometimes comes because God is disciplining us for sin (Heb. 12:3–11), this is not the suffering that is primarily described in 1 Peter. Rather, Peter emphasizes the unjust suffering that comes to believers because the world hates Christ (1 Peter 2:18–25; 3:14–22). We do not deserve to suffer for following the Lord of the universe, because by confessing the name of Christ we have done the right thing. However, in His providence, God has ordained that His people share in the sufferings of His Messiah, the only one for whom any kind of suffering was completely undeserved (4:13).
Because of the difficulties that such suffering entails, we might be tempted to consider abandoning our profession. Therefore Peter constantly reminds us of the privilege of suffering for Christ. In today’s passage we read that if we suffer for bearing the name of Jesus we are blessed because such suffering proves that the “Spirit of glory and of God” rests upon us (v. 14).
This of course refers to the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who rested upon and empowered Jesus (Isa. 11:1–2; Luke 4:18–19). All of those who by faith are in union with Christ also receive the privilege of God’s Spirit coming upon them and dwelling within them (Gal. 4:6). It is this Spirit that enables us to rejoice in the midst of suffering, because by our suffering for Jesus’ sake we know that we are truly His. If the Lord of glory who was anointed by the Spirit could suffer and be blessed, we should then expect that all of His faithful disciples who likewise possess the Spirit will also suffer and yet be blessed.
Peter reminds us today that if we suffer for bearing the name of Christ we are blessed. Just as the Holy Spirit rested upon Jesus, so too does He rest upon us, and our suffering proves that we indeed have been filled with the Spirit. As we seek to be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will experience more the blessing that comes with suffering. In prayer, ask that you would look for and experience His presence in the midst of your difficulties.