Christ speaks up for us before all others. He has interceded for us with those who wereenraged at us. God speaks on our behalf to persuade all others to be patient with us. Christintercedes with us on behalf of those with whom we are at enmity or of whom we areoblivious. His prayer is directed to us, to persuade us to be merciful with each other. Christrepresent us to those whom we have made our victims. He asks them to give us more time,and another chance to turn around. Christ unceasingly asks us to release those whom, inour fear and rage we have taken into our grip. We may release them and so we ourselvesmay be released; we are blocked and immobilised by the grasp we have on others. Hepersuades our creditors and all those whom we have hurt to be forgiving of us. He asks us tospeak and pray for all men and to pass on the forgiveness that we ourselves have received..
2. Passover and the Continuing Passion of the Body
Christ leads us through
In the passion Christ walks through the assembly of humankind. We are the storm we goesthrough: we lash out, our blows rain down, and Christ is pummelled and battered.The cross is behind Christ, but it lies ahead for us. Our cross is not a repetition of his. Christsuffered alone, entirely without us, and indeed against us, since it was our aggression thathe suffered. But in our passion we are not alone, but with him. Since he cannot be separatedfrom the Spirit, and by the Spirit we cannot be separated from him, our passion will not endin our destruction. Because we are joined to him our passion will not unravel us entirely. Itwill release us from what does not belong to us, so that we may finally be joined solely tohim, and through him we will be truly joined to all men. We will be raised.The passion is the way we may experience the resurrection now. We must live life as thispassion that must be endured until the whole number comes in and the body is complete.Our course through life is a passage through the storm caused by the ungoverned forces,social, political and natural forces that rage around us. The waves tower over us and close inon us so that we do not see how we will get through. They press in and try to break our self-possession. As soon as we are pushed out of our composure and give in to that rage webecome part of it. As psalm 124 puts it:
If the Lord himself had not been on our side… they had swallowed us up quick, the waters
had drowned us and the stream gone even over our soul.
We must resist and absorb the violence of the storm and not pass its buffeting on. We mustremain holy, still and innocent.
‘Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain’
‘I want to know Christ
and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by
becoming like him in his death’
We display the sufferings and the unrecognisable and unwelcome sight of the Lord.
‘We always carry round in our body the death of Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 4.10
It is a joyful labour. We are not left only with the bitterness of our labour and suffering,because we already know (and have constantly to remind one another) that our work ispurposeful, its purpose is already fulfilled, so we are not working in vain, so our work isconnected to its outcome and brings its reward with it. We already anticipate the joy we willhave then together with the very people who are still presently opposing and persecuting us.
‘We rejoice in
our sufferings’ (Romans 5.3). They are not for nothing. We are not suffering
for our own salvation, for this has come to us as a sheer gift. Our salvation came through theefforts of others who passed the gospel on to us, and who put up with us and suffered ourantagonism. God has paid out their lives in order to win us.