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In thanksgiving for… the Sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24-29)

17th November 2020

In thanksgiving for… the Sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24-29)

Mr. Tyler Van Fossen

The LORD prophesied through Isaiah, “Behold, my servant shall act wisely, he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted” (Is. 52.13). When this Servant came to his own in the 1st century he willingly walked a road marked with pain and humility that ended with the greatest suffering imaginable upon the cross. 

In acting wisely, this Servant suffered death and defeated our greatest enemy: sin and death. He bore our griefs and sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquity (Is. 53:3-4). It was there that he became sin for us, and his soul an offering for our guilt. Old Testament priests, year after year, would enter into the holy of holies and make an offering for guilt, but our great and high priest entered once into the holy places not made with hands. A full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. He acted wisely and is now seated at the right hand of God and offers, through his Gospel victory over the world.

Beyond the suffering and cross was the joy set before him - bringing many sons and daughters to glory.

By this single offering, he has joined the Church to himself and has perfected us for all time - those ones who are being sanctified (Heb. 10:14).

Although Christ our Head is in heaven, part of him still remains on Earth - his body. Paul identifies the Church as his body in Colossians 1:24. The way of the head is also the way of the body and we follow in his footsteps. This means days, weeks, and years marked with suffering. But this is no lonely road. He is your head and you are joined to him. He gives you his Spirit, empowering you to journey with him as you walk this path of suffering in faith, hope, and the love which He has poured out into your heart. You, and the entire Church, journey together with him. The union of Christ and his Church necessarily results in our sharing with one another. When any one part of the body suffers, we all suffer. When Saul was persecuting the Church on earth, Jesus came to him and said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). An assault on any member of the Church is an attack on Jesus’ own body.

We participate with Christ in The Lord’s Supper, prayer, fellowship, and his Word, but we also participate with him through suffering. It is through these sufferings that we learn how deeply bound together we are with one another and him. To be sure, what we suffer here and now does not secure any satisfaction for sin or atonement. The sufferings of Christ alone on the cross secured our redemption and was sufficient for our salvation. 

We look forward to that day when Christ will bring his whole Church into glory where we will commune with him in a new and final way. Not through faith, or hope, or suffering, but an exultant participation with our Lord. The trials and tribulation of our earthly life will be wiped away, but love for God will remain in us as we remain in him. We must keep this great and joyful end in mind, for by it, we can welcome suffering and rejoice in it. Even if our struggle leads to death, this too he has overcome, turning death into our doorway to see him face to face. Those who are in Christ have been granted the grace to suffer and die for good, just like Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. We walk in his footsteps, together in him, body and head joined together, and can therefore take heart and “toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within [us]” (Col. 1:29) until that great and awesome day when we stand before our Lord.

Mr. Tyler Van Fossen
Pastoral assistant at Church of The Good Shepherd in Binghamton NY, a parish in the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word, a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America.


A prayer for one in pain:

Lord Jesus Christ, by your patience in suffering you hallowed earthly pain and gave us the example of obedience to your Father’s will: Be near me in my time of weakness and pain; sustain me by your grace, that my strength and courage may not fail; heal me according to your will; and help me always to believe that what happens to me here is of little account if you hold me in eternal life, my Lord and my God. Amen.

BCP 2019, p. 234

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