Sermon on Colossians 1:13-20
Text: For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
We have all heard the tune “Hail to the Chief” many times. “Hail to the Chief” is traditionally played to announce the ceremonial entrance of the President of the United States. While “Hail to the Chief” is played at various functions and times during the year, the song did not start out as a presidential march. It was originally written by an English composer named James Sanderson for a stage adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s poem, “The Lady of the Lake.” The song was first performed in the U.S. in 1812. On July 4, 1828, the Marine Band performed the song at a ceremony for the formal opening of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which was attended by President John Quincy Adams. The song was first played to announce the arrival of the president at James Polk’s inauguration in 1845. It was Julia Tyler, the wife of Polk’s predecessor. John Tyler, who suggested that the song be played whenever the president made an appearance. The Department of Defense made “Hail to the Chief” the official music to announce the president in 1954. Today, as we close the church year, we bring our praise for our God and say HAIL TO THE KING! 1. He Has Created Us. 2. He Has Redeemed Us.
Paul wrote this letter to the Colossian Christians because of a heresy that had begun to show itself. While Paul does not directly address the promoters of the false teaching or tell us exactly what it was, we can deduce at least some of the components of this heresy. One of the tenets of this teaching was a robbing of Christ of the honor and glory that was due him. They downplayed the person and importance of Christ. As you read the book of Colossians, you can see how, time and again, Paul shows the power and supremacy of Christ. In our verses today, we see why Christ has supremacy ascribed to him.
First, we look at the physical world around us. In verse 16 we read, “For in (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” So often we ascribe the work of creation to God the Father. We confess in the Apostles Creed, “I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” But we know that Jesus is the Son of God, part of the Trinity. The three Persons of the Trinity work together. Here in this verse, we have it written very clearly that the Son was involved in the work of creation. When we look at creation, it is easy to find reasons to praise our King.
For example, look at the bodies that God has given us. Think of the many ways that God showed his love in them. For example, we have a thumb that goes across our palms. Think of how different and difficult life would be without them. Or, what about the human eye? It was able to see in color long before we were able to duplicate that with cameras. We also see God’s goodness in their protection.
What about the various systems on our bodies? Our digestive systems allow us to take food and turn it into the energy that we need. Our nervous systems allow information to travel from one part of the body to the brain and back again, so that we can feel and move. Or have you thought about your circulatory or respiratory systems? We don’t have to stop and think “Heart, beat . . . Heart, beat” or “Breathe in . . . Breathe out.” Our bodies do all of this and more automatically. What wonderful works of creation are our bodies. No wonder the psalmist wrote in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” That’s just our bodies. We could live in a colorless, flat world. But God has given us color and beauty in the land around us. The landscape is so different from one place to another, each with its own particular beauty.
There is a warning in place here as we marvel at this creation and that it is the temptation to start to worship creation rather than the Creator. Some of the ecological movements today come from a movement that holds to the idea that there is a life force flowing through all things and we must keep everything going. Sometimes nature is made to be more important than human beings. Yes, we are to take care of the world that God has given us, but we are to remember that creation was made for man, and not the other way around.
Another example of where some people today miss the boat is with a preoccupation with angels. Sometimes some of the things that you see or hear come dangerously close to worshiping them or trusting them. Yes, they have been sent to help us, but they too are creatures, not the Creator. We want to reserve our praise for the King, for “all things have been created through him and for him.”
When God finished creating the world, he didn’t just sit back and let the world go on by itself. He didn’t just set the world spinning and sit back and see what would happen. We are reminded of this fact in verse 17, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” All things are held together by him. The universe and everything in it could not continue to exist if Christ were not sustaining it by his sustaining power. This is shown from the largest of things to the smallest. The fact that the sun rises every morning and sets every night is a testimony to Christ’s power. The seasons, gravity, all of the laws of nature are expressions of Christ’s will and power. If it were not for that power, everything in the universe would fly apart and be thrown into chaos. In Christ, however, they all wonderfully adhere. As we look at the world and all that is in it, we want to praise our King.
You can learn a great deal about God if you study his creation. You can see that he is our powerful God. He is a God of order. But there is something you can never learn about God from his creation. There is another part of us that also tells us about God and that is our conscience. That conscience bears witness to the law that is written in our hearts. This natural law tells us right and wrong. By nature, we know that there are things that we should and shouldn’t do. It also points out where we have done wrong. But there is something it can never do, and that is how to get in a right relationship with God. All it can do is point out sin and tell us we deserve to be punished for it.
For that reason, we thank God for revealing himself in his Word. There we find his plan of salvation for us. It is this plan of salvation that also moves us to praise our King, for he has redeemed us.
The apostle Paul reminds us of our former state in verse 13, where he writes, “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness.” We, by nature, are held as slaves: slaves to sin, slaves to death and slaves of the devil. We could not do anything except what these taskmasters would have us do. Our slavery caused us to say, do and think things that were not in keeping with God’s demands. We see the effects of sin every day, as we look at our lives in the light of God’s law. Do I see myself being selfish, when I could have been more generous? Do I find myself tearing down someone rather than defending them or speaking the best about them? Not only are we, by nature, slaves to these three, but we cannot change it, nor did we wish to. Because of our sins, we deserve to be in the dominion of darkness for all eternity.
But we have been brought into a different kingdom. Often in the ancient world when a nation was conquered, her people would be transplanted from their homeland and go to slavery in the conqueror’s country. But, in this instance, the exact opposite happened. We went from slavery “into the kingdom of the Son.” (Verse 13) We were released from captivity.
We learn how we were released. In speaking of the Son, it says, “in whom we have redemption.” (Verse 14) To redeem means to buy back or ransom. As was noted before, we were held captive by sin, death and the devil. To set us free a ransom had to be paid. The required ransom price is spoken of in verse 20, “through his blood, shed on the cross.” God required his Son to pay our ransom so that we might be set free. That was the only thing that could redeem us. Jesus shed his blood on the cross for us.
What makes Jesus’ blood so precious is the fact that he lived a perfect life in our place. He perfectly kept God’s law for us. He then poured out his blood on the cross in payment for our sins. He suffered the hell that we deserved. He did all this so that we might be set free, ransomed.
We have been set free, but we have not been freed to go on our own or to be in a neutral relationship with God. We have been brought into the kingdom of his Son. However, this is not going from one slavery to another. Rather this is a glorious place to be, for Jesus Christ is a loving King who has promised to be with us all the time. He has promised to care for us. He has promised to work all things in our life for our good.
For that reason, we praise our Redeemer King. He loved us so much that he saved us from the hell that we deserved. He gives us eternal life. We praise our Redeemer King now by the way that we live our lives. We want every part of our lives to say ‘Thank you’ for all that he has done for us.
Often when a king or queen is crowned, a special piece of music is written to commemorate their coronation. You and I can be living songs of praise here on this earth until we join the angelic choirs and sing his praises for all eternity. Hail to the King! He has created us and, more importantly, he has redeemed us. To him be praise and glory both now and forevermore. Amen.
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