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Colossians

1:9-20

 

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV)

Often and More

Thursday of Pentecost 26

21 November 2013

If we will listen, the gospel is effusive in its description and delivery of God's grace. God knows we are easily knocked off the confidence we ought to have in His grace and mercy. We are inclined to despair. Every human problem, every conflict, and every trouble we experience causes us to doubt that God is still caring for us and giving us His grace in Christ. God knows our weakness better than we ourselves. This is why Scripture, as God's speech, paints the boldest possible picture of God's work in Christ to save poor sinners like us. We are like a small child, who has suffered a blow both to his body and his dignity, who with many words and much comforting must be calmed by a loving parent. Only with inordinate love and petting will the child be calmed. Sometimes the love and care given to a small child who was injured, perhaps not greatly, looks and sounds silly and childish to others. But for both parent and child it is just what is needed to put right a little scrape and wounded spirit.

 

We always need that kind of care from our Father because we are surrounded by so many and great dangers. This is not just a little scrape. Satan is prowling about seeking whom he may devour. We are being hunted to death by an unseen foe. What could be more terrifying than that? But our Father knows this better than we ourselves. He wants to comfort us, strengthen us, rescue us, and be with us. Because we so easily fear for our salvation He repeats salvation's story again and again as the life of Christ is proclaimed to us and for us.

 

St. Paul's letter to the Colossians is full of this radically effusive gospel. Sometimes Bible scholars consider it so completely over the top they think it impossible that Paul should have written it. But such people do not understand the power of sin and Satan, nor the mercy of God. They believe that sin is just a little scrape that is easily taken care of, even by us. Then the gospel could be just a little something and Paul will sound like a parent comforting a small child: completely over the top. Our Father has transferred us from the domain of the devil into the kingdom of the Son that He loves. He hasn't just snatched us out of the mud and mire of our own sin. He hasn't just rescued us out of the hand of Satan. He hasn't just pointed us toward the heavenly kingdom. Through the new life of baptism He has transferred us to the most exalted position! He has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son whom He loves. All that belongs to that Son in His kingdom is ours if we are transferred into it. His blood and righteousness is the cause of it. Father and Son working in perfect harmony to bring us into redemption, which is the forgiveness of sins. We need to hear that ever and again. Our heavenly Father will tell us as often as we need and even more.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"'He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.' (Col 1:13-15). The whole work is Christ's, the giving both of rescue and transference. There is no achievement of ours. 'From the domain of darkness,' he said, that is, from error and the dominion of the devil. He said not 'darkness,' but 'domain of darkness;' for it had great power over us, and held us fast. For it is grievous indeed even to be under the devil at all, but to be so 'with power,' this is far more dreadful. 'And transferred us,' he said, 'into the kingdom of His beloved Son.' He delivered us not only from darkness, but He also showed His love toward us. A great thing indeed is it to have delivered even from darkness; but to have been brought into a kingdom also, is a far greater thing. See then how manifold the gift; that He has delivered us who lay in the pit. In the second place, He has not only delivered us, but also has translated us into a kingdom.

 

"'Who delivered us.' He did not say that He has sent us forth, but 'delivered': showing our great misery, and its control over us. Then to show also the ease with which the power of God works, he said, 'And transferred us,' just as if one were to lead a soldier from one position to another. And he did not say, 'led over'; nor even 'transposed,' for so the whole would be of him who transposed, nothing of him who went over; but he said, 'transferred;' so that it is both of us and of Him.

 

"'To the kingdom of his beloved Son.' He did not simply say, 'the kingdom of heaven,' but gave a dignity to his speech by saying, 'The kingdom of His beloved Son,' for no praise can be greater than this, as he said elsewhere: 'If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.' (2Ti 2:12). He has counted us worthy of the same things with the Son; and not only so, but what gives it greater force, with His Beloved Son. Those who were enemies, those who were in darkness, as it were suddenly he had transferred to where the Son is, to the same honor with Him. Nor was He content only with this. In order to show the greatness of the gift; he was not content with saying, 'kingdom,' but he also added, 'of the Son.' He also added 'beloved.' Nor was he satisfied with this, but he added, the dignity of His nature. For what did he say? 'Who is the image of the invisible God.' But he proceeded not to say this immediately, but meanwhile inserted the benefit which He bestowed upon us. For lest, when you hear that the whole belongs to the Father, you might suppose the Son is excluded, he ascribes the whole to the Son, and the whole to the Father. For He indeed translated us, but the Son furnished the cause. For what did he say? He 'who delivered us out of the domain of darkness' is the one, 'in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.' For if we had not been forgiven our sins, we could not have been 'translated.' So here again the words, 'In whom.'" 

 

John Chrysostom, 
Homilies on Colossians, 2
 
Prayer

Dear heavenly father, You have delivered us from the domain of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of Your beloved Son. Continue to proclaim to us through Your called servants that great gospel, which both tells us of our transference into Christ's kingdom and establishes us in that kingdom. Keep us from despair and other great shame and vice. Bring us the last to the full enjoyment of that which You have given us in the gospel. Amen.

 

For the church and her pastors, the people and leaders work together for the proclamation of God's powerful gospel

 

For those who are afraid because of the typhoon damage in the Philippines, that they might be strengthened and upheld in every good deed

 

For the Mission Summit of the LCMS, that those who attend would grow in understanding and appreciation of the mission of the church
Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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