He is Jesus (Colossians 1:13-23)

MOTIVATE

Aaron and Anna did the best they could to raise Andrew. Their marriage was strong and what they didn’t have in material possessions they made up for in wealth of love. One day Anna went on a trip to the store and was in a head on car collision that she did not survive. Aaron and Andrew were struck with grief. Andrew was a teenager going through challenging years and needed both his parents. He turned to his father for answers and guidance. However, the father Aaron turned alcohol. As the years accumulated Aaron’s addiction consumed his life. Andrew grew cold toward his father and left for college with seldom communication.

Andrew’s grades were decent and four years later gained a degree in business. Andrew’s graduation accomplishment led to the desire to see his father. Andrew reached out to Aaron to find his father in a much better place. Aaron had sobered to his grief and changed dramatically. Aaron not only overcame his addiction but had started a successful real estate business where he became wealthy. Above all, he was thankful to regain an opportunity to connect with his son. The son and father spent some time together and Aaron realized his father’s economic status. For his graduation he asked his father for a new car, which the father could easily afford.

Graduation came and the father invited the son to his home. Aaron gave his son a gift that he thought the son would appreciate. He passed the gift wrapped box to his son and Andrew opened it disappointed. Inside the box was a Bible, which Andrew wanted no part. He shoved the box back to his father and yelled in bitter anger at his father. The father called out to the son, “Andrew, don’t you want to read what’s inside the gift I’m giving to you?” Andrew just walked away and out of his father’s life.

… will complete story at conclusion of message. Until then…

This message will help us understand 5 gifts that God gives to us through Jesus Christ.

 

Colossians was written to a melting pot society that mixed religious and equated philosophical ideas. The author, Paul, wrote to give God’s perspective to remind that not everything that glitters is gold – all religions are not the same. Pragmatic philosophy may sound helpful for a time but its end will use and abuse. Further, some ideas and religions are dangerously evil.

Colossians has a message for all such mixed perspectives and provides the only alternative in the gospel of Jesus (one who died & rose again).

 

EXAMINE   Colossians 1:13-23

When life feels helpless, Jesus rescues (Colossians 1:13)

Paul writes from prison under guard by the Roman Empire. In a sense, Paul is a slave to Rome but in another he is fully free in the gospel. The Christian understands they do not have to be enslaved to their circumstances but are rescued from a past and reshaped a future.

“delivered from the domain of darkness”

God’s deliverance shows His power and resources. He alone has the power and resources to rescue from the domain/authority/power of darkness.

à What is your darkest moment? God’s deliverance implies our most desperate & darkest circumstances.

Winter is a bleak and barren season. Trees have surrendered their leaves. Sunshine is limited and it’s therefore cold. Animals hibernate… why can’t we all just hide at home until Spring? Yet, winter’s bright spot is Christmas. Were it not for God, our lives would be always winter and never Christmas.

“transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son”

God has not only rescued but is in process of establishing (μετεστησεν = meta-stesen {from histemi = made to stand} = completely changed circumstances) us into His kingdom. Faith in Jesus transfers our family and our future eternal destination (John 5:24).

 

Imagine living in the Middle East seeing children abducted, women raped and beaten, mass torture and murder among friends and family. Then, ally soldiers arrive to defeat the enemy and deliver you from death. Further, the nation of the soldiers continues its support to come alongside by sending teams to help rebuild lives and develop the culture and cities.

God has done this for us by saving us and setting us in His kingdom.

à In helplessness of sin, look to the Savior…

à In temptation, look to the rescue alternative provided by God (cf. 1Cor 10:13).

à In circumstances, look for eternal perspective. Ask and pray for God to help you discern His work in your life.

When life feels hopeless, Jesus redeems (Colossians 1:14)

“we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”

In Christ we have rescue and redemption (απολυτρωσιν / apo-lutro-sin = literally ‘loosed around’ or fully released). Another word is ‘ransom’, which is associated with making payment to secure release a slave, or perhaps a kidnapped person; it’s a purchase and price paid to effect rescue.

Jesus is our ransom.

Mark 10:45 “For the Son of Man came… to serve and give his life as a ransom.”

Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”

Hebrews 9:15 Jesus “died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

The curse of the Law is God’s demand for perfection.

  • For a student it would be a 4.0+ grade scale with perfect quizzes, tests, essays and all without any errors.
  • For sports it would be batting 1000, or perfect QB rating, or bowling 300 all strikes game… all with no penalties or faults.
  • For business or bank it would be no errors for tellers and no outstanding debts.
  • For a person it would be no mistakes, no misspoken words, no ill actions or attitudes.

Jesus entered our world to rescue and redeem. He paid the price of perfection and the penalty for our sin. What God requires, He provides though His Son. The forgiveness of sins provided includes removing the penalty of death and the power to overcome sin.

 

As Christians, we celebrate Christ’s work of rescue & redemption through COMMUNION – Lord’s Supper

In the gospel, God rescued from death of sin’s penalty; depth of sin’s power; darkest temptation and trial.

In the gospel, God has transformed every life circumstance to have help and hope.

These gospel elements remind us of God’s presence in each helpless and hopeless moment [not just spiritually but physically; these elements are tangible, like Jesus made God tangible].

 

When life feels happenstance, Jesus reveals (Colossians 1:15)

“He is the image of the invisible God”

Exploring the gospel and gift of Jesus further, Colossians helps us to understand that we can see God in all of life – not just spiritually but physically. Jesus made God tangible; God is revealed through Jesus. This section of Scripture is likely a hymn or catechizing creed [1] to teach Christians about the supremacy of Jesus in all of life. Therefore, this passage is supremely important – especially in an age that doubts & dismisses Jesus all together; and especially in light of the Christmas season.

Jesus is the image (εικων / eikon = exact likeness) of God (cf. John 1:1-18; Hebrews 1:1-3). Jesus is not one of many gods but is “the” only revelation of God. Humanity is made in God’s image but we are not a perfect likeness of God due to our freedom and fall to sin. Yet, Jesus perfectly images God and was born into humanity without a sin nature from the Virgin Birth.

“the firstborn of all creation”

Jesus is the firstborn not in the sense of being created but in rank; contra Jehovah Witness. The context provides support along with Jewish culture which viewed firstborn in terms of priority and beloved for inheritance (cf. Ex 4:22).

à Jesus’ deity implies His power and control, which we can trust in our seemingly happenstance life.

  • > In Cinderella (new modern version), the Prince with his battalion guards are seeking the woman whom can fit the glass slipper. The captain of the guard has searched every house in the kingdom and arrives at the last house with the wicked step-mother and evil twin sisters – none whom can wear the glass slipper. The guards go to leave until they hear a singing voice coming from the attack where Cinderella was locked away by the step-mother. The captain asks if there is another maiden in the house to which the mother seeks to dismiss. The captain persists and searches the attic. The mother attempts to stop the captain where he responds, “Who are you to stop an officer of king? Are you an empress? Are you a saint? Are you a deity?”
  • As humans, we have the illusion of control. Only 1 has all power in life – Jesus. Jesus calls us to submit to His revelation in our life
    • in the gospel
    • in the guidance of Scripture…
      • à Where has God revealed Himself to you, yet you refuse to accept and affirm Him?

 

When life feels like hell, Jesus reigns (Colossians 1:16-18).

“all things were made through Him and for Him”

Again, Paul writes to show the supremacy of Christ’s redemptive and revelatory power, as well as Him as reigning Creator who sits on the throne to sustain all of creation and be the head of His church.

Faith in God is not to fulfill our plans.

  • Believe in God so that we can be happy.
  • Believe in God so that things will get better.
  • Believe in God so that our marriage (or spouse – as if both spouses aren’t broken) will be fixed.
  • Believe in God so that our wishes and dreams will come true.

Faith in God is not our will be done but Thine will be done. We believe in God for Christ’s sake – for who He is and not what we want Him to be. Christianity is not believing in a God of our image but that we are made in His image and for His glory.

Jesus became what we are so that we might become who He is.

“head of the body”(cf. Col 2:10, 19; Eph 1:22; 4:15; 5:23): the authoritative and controlling center of the body

à If Christ is the head and apart from Him we have no life, then we must remain in Him…

  • through loving God personally
  • through loving God corporately with His church
  • through loving others in obedience to the Great Commandment.
    • Jesus entered a world that was not safe and was hostile to His life
    • Jesus entered a world that was His enemy.

à How do these truths factor into the way we love others as Christ?

  • through leading generations in obedience to the Great Commission.

à We must not decapitate the church by not obeying Jesus’ Great Commandment & Commission.

“beginning, firstborn”(implies founder and initiator of the resurrected life; cf. 1Cor 15:20; Rev 3:14)

“in everything – or among all people”

When life feels hostile, Jesus reconciles (Colossians 1:19-23).

Completing this Christological summary, Paul affirms Jesus’ supreme deity in Person and Purpose.

In the Person of Jesus we have the “fullness of God” (Colossians 1:19)

In the Purpose of Jesus we have “reconciliation to God through the blood of his cross. Once you were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:20-22)

Concluding the story of the father Aaron and his estranged son Andrew…

Graduation came and the father invited the son to his home. Aaron gave his son a gift that he thought the son would appreciate. He passed the gift wrapped box to his son and Andrew opened it disappointed. Inside the box was a Bible, which Andrew wanted no part. He shoved the box back to his father and yelled in bitter anger at his father. The father called out to the son, “Andrew, don’t you want to read what’s inside the gift I’m giving to you?” Andrew just walked away and out of his father’s life.  Their relationship was once again torn apart.

Years passed and Andrew was married but didn’t invite the father to the wedding. They had their first child and without contact to the father. A second child came and as the years grew perspective was gained. Aaron felt again the need to perhaps reconcile with his father. Aaron called and the father and son talked over the phone. Aaron told his son that he was sick and not doing well but would appreciate seeing his son and family. They made plans to meet in a few weeks.

The day came when Andrew arrived back to his father’s home only to find that Aaron had a heart attack the day before and died. Andrew missed his moment to reconcile with his father.

Nonetheless, the father’s entire inheritance was passed on to his son. Andrew was in his father’s home to sort through the possessions when he found a familiar gift wrapped box. It was the box with the Bible that Aaron had given his son so many years previously. Andrew opened the Bible to read the inscription and it read, “My son,  I’ve missed so much of your life but I have always loved you. Congratulations on your graduation. Matthew 7:11.” Andrew was curious about the Scripture reference to which read, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.” Also at that page was a car key. The son took the car key to his father’s garage that discovered the very car that he had requested of his father. He rejected the gift because of its unexpected wrapping.

à Do not miss God’s offer of reconciliation that is available only while you have breath.

 

APPLY/THINK

LIKEWISE, many of us reject God’s gifts because of unexpected wrapping.

  • We disallow the wrapping of hardship so we miss growth of character and development of our gifts.
  • We reject the wrapping of suffering so we miss the closeness of Christ.
  • We refuse the wrapping of surrender so we miss the sweet love of God.
  • We dismiss the wrapping of a holy baby in a manger and we miss the beauty of Christmas.

 

à Receive reconciliation from God.

à Reflect the ministry of reconciliation (2Cor 5:21) to others through spreading the gospel & supporting LMCO.

 

[1] Peter T. O’Brien, Word Biblical Commentary: Colossians 1:15.

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