Col. 1:24

Robert Hawker

"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church."–Col. i. 24.

What can the apostle mean from these expressions? Not, surely, that the sufferings of Jesus were incomplete, or that the sufferings of his people were to make up a deficiency: for in treading the wine-press of the wrath of God against sin, Jesus trod it alone, and of the people there was none with him. And so perfectly finished and complete was the whole work of redemption by Jesus, that by the one offering of himself, once offered, "he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." But what a sweet scripture is this of the apostle's, when it is interpreted with reference to Jesus, that in all the sufferings of his people Jesus takes a part! Jesus suffered in his own person fully and completely, when as an expiatory sacrifice for sin he died, the just for the unjust, to bring his people to God. These sufferings as a sacrifice were full, and have fully satisfied: they cease for ever, and can be known no more. But the sympathy of Jesus with his people gives him to bear a part in all their concern. And the consciousness of this made the apostle tell the church that he rejoiced in all his exercises, because Jesus took part, and thereby endeared the affliction. My soul! cherish the thought also. Thy Jesus knows all, measures out all, bears part with thee in all, and will carry thee through all, and finally crown all with his love and blessing. The same interest that Jesus felt in the persecution of Saul over his afflicted ones, when he called from heaven to restrain Saul's rage, and said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" – the same interest he feels in every minute event, with which his redeemed are exercised now. "Whosoever toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye." Blessed Lord! may my soul keep in remembrance those endearing views of thy love. Give me to keep alive the recollection of the oneness between the glorious head, and all his exercised members. I see that a child of thine cannot mourn, but Jesus marks it down, and puts the tears in his bottle. He notes his sorrows in his book. So that by this fellow-feeling, Lord! our interest in thee is most fully proved. And while thy people partake in thy righteousness, thou takest part in their sorrows. As it was in the days of thy flesh, so is it now in the fulness of thy glory: "in all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them, and he bare them and carried them all the days of old."

Robert Hawker

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