St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

March In The Triumphant Parade

Sermon on Colossians 2:6-15

Text: So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Many people enjoy parades. There are parades in conjunction with a town’s festival. There are parades to celebrate holidays. You have a parade if your team wins a championship. There are also parades when a war has ended. There were huge parades across the country when the world wars came to an end. This is not a modern day event. The ancient Romans practiced this, as well. After a general would defeat a country, there would be a victory parade in Rome. The winning general would lead his victorious troops in a parade. In our text for this morning, we have another victory parade. As we learn about this parade, we are encouraged to MARCH IN THE TRIUMPHANT PARADE. 1. The Spiritual Forces Of This World Have Been Defeated. As a result, 2. Soldiers Of The Cross Rejoice.

Before we talk about the parade route and the unusual place it began, let’s look at the reason for the celebration. In verse 14, Paul speaks of “the charge of our legal indebtedness.” Every human being signs a contract with God when they are born. The contract is quite simple. It says that God will give eternal life to all who perfectly follow his will. There are no loopholes. There is no legalese. Jesus said it quite simply in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” If you do this, you will have earned your place in heaven.

However, as we take an honest look at our lives, we see our debt of disobedience mounts. There are so many ways that we have added to this debt. For example, let’s think about our prayer life. In prayer, we show that we trust that God will hear us and take care of all our needs. Yet, how often don’t we find ourselves worrying about situations in life? I’m not talking about being concerned about things. Worrying means that we see no way out of a situation. It keeps us up at night. It gnaws away at us. When we worry, we show that we do not trust that God will keep his promise to take care of us. Sometimes, in our prayer lives, we get impatient with God. We think that he is not acting quickly enough in this situation. In those instances, we are showing that we think we know more than God. We put ourselves in his place. These are both instances of breaking the First Commandment. That is only one of the commandments. Add in our debts that we incur with the other nine, and you can see that our debt before God grows and grows. The law “stood against us and condemned us.” (Verse 14) It ended up separating us from God. The law condemned us as imperfect and in eternal debt to God. The penalty for this is more than late charges or wage garnishments. The penalty for this indebtedness is an eternity of separation from God in hell.

And, yet, it says, that God “canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness.” (Verse 14) Why did God do that? Was it because God decided that the debt against him was not all that important? Not at all! God is very clear that he does not look the other way or excuse our debt. Continuing in verse 14, it says, “He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” It is only at the cross of Christ that this debt could be paid for. What makes his cross so special? It wasn’t the cross, but the one on the cross. He is described in verse 9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” This verse teaches an important truth in God’s Word. It tells us about the uniqueness of Jesus. He was both true God and true man. The teaching is impossible for us to understand. How can one being be both 100% God and 100% man? In our minds, you must be one or the other. However, the “how” is not important. It is true because this is what the Bible says. The “why” is very important. Jesus had to be a human being, so that he would be under the same obligations to the law that you and I are. He had to be God, so that he could keep it perfectly. Jesus always trusted that his Father would take care of him. He lived his life knowing that his Father would always make everything work out for his benefit. This brings us to the cross. Christ had to be a human being, so that he could suffer and die. As God, this would count for all people. Because of what happened on the cross, God was able to “cancel the charge of our legal indebtedness.” Our debt before God was satisfied.

Going on, in verse 15, it says, “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, [Christ] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” The “public spectacle” refers to a victory parade. What is interesting is where this victory parade began. It began in hell. After Jesus rose from the dead, he descended into hell to proclaim to the devil and his forces that they were, once and for all, defeated. They were “disarmed.” The devil can no longer accuse us of sin because Jesus paid for every one of them. Jesus triumphed over his enemies by the cross. The victory parade that began when Jesus was made alive and descended into hell, continued when he rose from the dead on Easter morning. His victory march was seen by his disciples when he ascended into heaven. Jesus sits victorious in heaven. His victory parade goes on for all eternity.

This is the victory parade that we observe. We see it in the pages of the Scriptures. However, we are to do more than sit on the curb and cheer as Jesus goes past us. We are encouraged to join in the parade. We march in the triumphant parade. How we join in this parade is spelled out in verses 11&12, “Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” We, particularly, note the word “baptism.” Paul tells us what occurred at that moment in our lives. First, it says that we were “buried with him.” As Christ died to sin, so in our baptisms, sin was destroyed in us. Our sinful nature died when we were baptized. It is dead and buried, just like Christ was when he died. When we were baptized, part of us came to life. Just as Christ was brought to life on Easter morning, our new man was brought to life. By virtue of our union with Christ in baptism, God regards Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as though they were our death, burial, and resurrection. When we were baptized, we were brought to faith. We became a part of this triumphant parade. As we are in this parade, we rejoice in what Christ has done for us. This rejoicing shows itself by the way that we live our lives for him.

This is referenced in verse 6, which says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him.” Paul speaks of the fact that we “received Christ Jesus as Lord.” This is not something that we did on our own. This is what happened when we were brought to faith. That part is accomplished. Now, we are encouraged to “continue to live your lives in him.” This is how we thank Jesus for what he has done for us. This is part of the rejoicing that we do out of thanksgiving for the victory that we won.

Paul gives four examples of how we do this. He says in verse 7, “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” First, he says, “rooted.” When you and I were brought to faith we were implanted into Jesus. We draw our life from him, as a plant draws its life from the ground. However, what happens when a plant does not sink its roots deep into the soil? In the heat of the summer, it will wither and die. When a tree’s roots are not sunken deeply into the ground, it can be blown over by a strong wind. We need to continue to draw our strength and nourishment from him. The way that we do this is to send the roots of our faith ever deeper into Jesus. The way that we do this is to continually be in touch with him. We do this when we hear and study his word. There we are reminded again and again what Jesus has done for us and what he has promised us. We sink our roots every time we receive the Lord’s Supper. Not only are our sins forgiven at that time, but our faith is also strengthened. Then, when those storms of life blow, when difficulties, sadness, and pain enter our lives, we can stand firm, not because of our own strength, but because of the strength that Jesus gives us. We rejoice in our Savior, when we are rooted in him.

The next thing that Paul mentions is “built up in him.” Every building needs to have a good foundation. We have the best foundation in Jesus Christ. He does not shift or fail. He is rock solid. Now, we build on that foundation. The materials that we use to build are the things that we do out of love for Jesus. When we live a God-pleasing life in whatever situation we may find ourselves in, we are adding to the building. They will not all be glorious and noteworthy things. At times, we may think that the only good works are those things that we do at or for the church. If you would ask many people, “What pleases God?”, you might get answers like, “Go to church” or “Pray” or “Tell others about Jesus.” Those are all true. All those things please God. However, we get opportunities to thank God every single day of our lives. It happens when husband and wife exhibit love for each other. It occurs when parents do all the little things for their children, many of which the world would not call glorious. Children build when they do what their parents tell them to do. It happens when we agree to do something at work that no one else will do. The possibilities are endless as to ways that we can build on this foundation of Jesus Christ. In the end, we want to make a beautiful monument, giving glory to Jesus for the victory that he won for us.

Paul mentions, “strengthened in the faith as you were taught.” Sending the roots of our faith down into Christ and being built upward into Christ will result in being strengthened in the faith. Our spiritual knowledge and hold on Christ will be strengthened. Our faith will be continually confirmed. The more that we see what Christ has done for us and how he has changed our lives, the more we will be convinced that he is everything that we need. We don’t need to go looking elsewhere, not even in ourselves for our salvation. There are no new teachings or directions for our spiritual lives necessary. The more we know Christ, the more we know that he is everything necessary for our salvation and our lives.

Finally, Paul speaks of “overflowing with thankfulness.” When we view our spiritual blessings from the perspective of a living, growing faith, thanksgiving will overflow and gush forth in mighty streams into every area of our lives. Because we are sure that we have been saved and have heaven to look forward to, we can approach our lives differently. When we see the physical blessings that God has given us, we can be thankful for what we have and not be concerned about what we don’t have. When other people cause us pain, we can forgive them, out of thanksgiving for what Jesus has done for us. It is so very easy for us to be thankful when things are going well. However, we know that this is not always the case. Yet, when we face troubles, hardships, and pain, we can still approach these things with thanksgiving, because we know that we have a God who loves us and has promised that everything that comes our way, whether it be good or bad, is for our benefit. The psalmist reminds us of why we can be thankful, when he says, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 106:1) As we follow our victorious Savior, we use our lives to rejoice because of all that he has done for us.

The next time that you see a parade, enjoy yourself. Look at the floats. Listen to the bands. In most cases, you will only be a spectator at the parade. There is another parade that is going on right now. It is the triumphant parade because of what Jesus has done for us. He has won the victory. He is leading the parade. By God’s grace, you are a part of this parade. Raise your voice in praise of your victorious king. March proudly behind your king. We pray that more and more people will join us in this parade. We long for the end of the earthly parade route that will be in heaven. Then, we will have the opportunity to rejoice for all eternity because of our conquering Savior. Amen.