The apostle Paul once said that he filled out the sufferings of Christ (Col. 1:24). Clearly, he did not mean that the atonement was somehow lacking—when Jesus cried that it was finished, it really was finished. So what did He mean?
The complete atonement established the body of Christ, and because of the completeness and efficacy of Christ’s suffering, a body—identified with Him—was established forever. He then sent that body out into the world, as a lamb among wolves.
When we suffer, therefore, it is not because what Christ did was deficient. It is because it is effective and overflowing, and we are commanded to imitate it. As we know, husbands are to imitate the Lord’s death (Eph. 5:25). The apostle Peter says that the Lord’s passion set an example for all of us (1 Pet. 2:21). But when Peter says this, the example he sets before us is an example of someone dying for someone, of someone taking responsibility for things He didn’t do. And that is the basis for the authority that the Lord Jesus has—He took responsibility for things He did not do, and in God’s economy, authority flows to those who take responsibility.
In carnal wisdom, in earthly wisdom, it is height of responsibility to take responsibility for your own actions. But in God’s economy, in God’s new world, we are called to take responsibility for what we did not do—and to the extent that we learn this gospel lesson, taught at the base of the cross, authority will flow in our direction. And because we have died, we can be entrusted with that authority.