Colossians 1 provides a magnificent conclusion to the church calendar and to our reflections on Christ’s reign. Now that we have walked through the story in detail, Paul takes a step back and offers a glimpse of the bigger picture. In all the twists and turns of the biblical story, God’s intention to rescue us from sin and death never wavers. Through this king named Jesus, God has woven together a master plan to save all creation.
As in all his letters, Paul tries to help his readers better understand what God has done for them in Christ. In Christ, Paul says, God has “rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Here Paul focuses on forgiveness of sins as the inheritance of those who have entered Jesus’ kingdom. Forgiveness is the trademark of this king who brings his people back from exile, who tends them with compassion like a shepherd, who prays that they receive forgiveness for their very worst cruelty toward him. His kingdom is not a place of darkness, guilt, and punishment but of light, freedom, and forgiveness.
Paul may paint a grand picture for us, but he also describes a practical reality for us as Christians. We can turn to our king to receive his gift of forgiveness whenever we go astray. We can release any burdens of guilt and live in the freedom he won for us. We can represent his kingdom to the world by offering forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Thanks be to God for the inheritance King Jesus has won for us.
Jesus, thank you for the forgiveness of sins you have lavished on me. Help me live as a representative of your kingdom to the world around me, forgiving others as I want to be forgiven. Amen.
Each of the passages for this week addresses the ends served by divine power. Jeremiah characterizes king- ship by wisdom, justice, and safety. The exercise of kingly power is on behalf of God’s people rather than against them. The read- ing from Colossians praises the cosmic dimensions of Christ whose exaltation is not an end in itself, for the task of Christ is one of reconciliation. The goal of Christ’s kingship moves to center stage in the passage from Luke. The bystanders and one of the criminals executed with Jesus know what it means to be a king, so they taunt Jesus with the demand that he use his power to save himself. For Jesus, however, a king is not one who saves himself but one who saves others.
• Read Jeremiah 23:1-6. What experiences do you recall of leaders in various arenas not being wise shepherds of the people and the people’s resources?
• Read Luke 1:68-79. The song of Zechariah is this-worldly and political. In what ways does the song encourage you to view the baby in the manger in a different light?
• Read Colossians 1:11-20. How has Jesus revealed himself as your king this past year?
• Read Luke 23:33-43. Jesus came as a different king, a dif- ferent kind of messiah than people expected. Recall a time when God’s response in a situation differed
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