1 Peter 3:18-20
For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh…
We accept the life and the death of Christ as an atonement, as a substituted suffering, the just for the unjust; but we do not feel that He was a sufferer only when He was on earth, and that His suffering then was all the suffering that was needful to the salvation of the world. It was the nature of Christ to suffer for sinners. He was embodied in the physical form that we might judge of what that nature was in the past, and what it was to be in the future, for the atoning nature of God existed from all eternity, and is going on to all eternity. The Lamb was historically slain in the time of Christ; but long before the coming of Christ there was the Divine atoning love, there was the vicarious suffering of the Saviour. And now, although no longer humbled in the flesh, Christ has not lost that peculiar element and attribute of the Divine nature — namely, substitution, imputation, vicariousness. Still He suffers in all our sufferings. He is afflicted in all our afflictions.
1. Sin becomes exceedingly sinful when judged by such a test as this. There is nothing that the whole world revolts at more than at flagrant ingratitude.
2. It is the presentation of such a Saviour as this that makes confession easy to pride. There are a thousand things that hinder men that have done wrong from forsaking their wrong-doing. But if God be for you, who can be against you? If the bosom of Christ's love is open, and is a refuge to which you may fly for safety, why should you not avail yourself of it?
3. When we stand, at last, in Zion and before God, and look back upon our past career, how inevitable will it be that every one shall turn disgusted from the thought of his own strength, and that we shall take our crowns and cast them at the feet of Christ, and say, "Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thy name be the praise of our salvation!" The patience of God, the gentleness of God, the forgiveness of God, the sufferings of God for us — these will stand out in such illustrious light in that day that every one wilt be filled with joy, and gratitude, and triumph, and new pleasure in the consciousness that it was of God that he was saved, and not of himself.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: