You enter a sports stadium and all you see around you are banners and pictures of the team and its heroes. If you went to Busch Stadium especially during the last two months of the season, you saw people wearing jerseys and buying food with team emblems on them. Everything screams of the team.
It is different but similar when you think about going to a presidential library. The President’s name is on the front of the library with pictures, busts, and quotes of that President, found throughout the library. The building’s focus is around that one person instead of one team.
In today’s text, on this Christ the King Sunday, God talks about a much bigger house that was built by Jesus Christ: at the time of creation. In our epistle lesson Paul writes: 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.
The adverbs are all inclusive: “all things are created THROUGH him and FOR him and IN him.” All things come THROUGH him – God created them all, so His signature is on everything. Walk into a Frank Lloyd Wright home – and you can tell by the “organic design” that ties the building into its environment, that it is obviously a home that Mr. Wright designed and built. The same goes with Creation.
But that is not the end of it by far. Paul says in vs. 17, that 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. That means that nothing could exist or would exist if God did not give it the power to live or design it to live that way. He is the divine glue which keeps everything sticking together as much as it does. He can be nothing less than divine.
Think also of the little word FOR. All things are FOR him. You might compare Jesus to the lake at the bottom of the mountain in which all the rivers are divinely made to flow to, but also compare the Triune God at the top of the mountain from which the rivers flow from. Jesus wants the fish, the birds, the music, the work, the laughter, marriage, children, sports, all to flow back to HIM and to be used to glorify HIM. So, Jesus preached about the birds of the air, and the flowers of the field to point back to HIS providence.
Paul, who wrote to the Colossians, also said to the men of Athens in Acts 17:26-28a
26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being….
So also, God the Father wants people to see who the Son of God is and bow before Him as their Lord and Savior.
We could not figure out the code because God’s Word says that we were too buried within its own darkness of sin and unbelief. So, God had to come to the rescue. Paul explained that this is what God the Father did for Paul and the Colossians. The Father rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Think of how Paul experienced this. He was a devout Jewish enemy of Christianity. He thought Jesus was a phony, that He was in no way the Messiah, so he was very hateful of the Christians and wanted them locked up. He received special permission from the government to go to Damascus and have the Christians arrested. Jesus appeared to Paul on the way in a bright vision from heaven and blinded Paul for a time. However, Paul was rescued from darkness and given his sight back both physically and spiritually when God sent the prophet Ananias to heal him. From that point on he saw that Jesus really was the Savior of the world. So, God literally rescued Paul from darkness and transferred him into the light of Jesus. He never could have seen that on his own.
There is a story in the Old Testament about a soothsayer named Balaam (Ba-Lam) who was riding on a donkey, going to curse the Israelites. He could not see it, but an angel of death was waiting to kill him on the way with his sword drawn. Thankfully for Balaam, the donkey he was riding on COULD see it, so it swerved out of the way. Balaam beat on the donkey, not realizing that it was going into the ditch to save his life.
This is how – A} people live in this world – blind to the pathway of hell that they are on – B} and abuse Christians for telling them the truth, and comparing them to uneducated donkeys. Yet they are in the darkness, even though they may be much smarter than we are. It is the idea that they know where they come from – from a big explosion millions of years ago. They think that when they die, they just become worm food. So, they enjoy the temporary life that they have with nothing more to live for but the here and the now, not realizing that they are walking in darkness and straight into hell. It is this blindness that people live with every day – when they do what they want to – with NO CONSIDERATION for what God wants or what God demands.
And all too often we do the same thing, not stopping to consider, “What does GOD want me to do? How would Jesus look at this behavior?” 1) We do not fear the consequences of sin as we should. 2) We do not look at our spouses and our possessions as gifts from God to use to HIS glory. 3) We have an unhealthy love with the temporary things of this world. 4) We look at all we have as things to use for our OWN pleasure and joy. It is bad eyesight at best. God calls it sinful.
Hell is simply a continuation of the blindness. Hell is described as darkness, with an eternity of weeping and gnashing of teeth. God closes the door and says, “No more light for you. You wanted to live in the dark and pretend I did not exist? Welcome to the darkness. Now you are going to experience what it means to live without me.” That is utter darkness. When Jesus was living on earth in His humility the demons BEGGED Him not to put them back down there.
But look back to the text at what Paul told the Colossians! 13 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.
God the Father comes to the rescue by sending His Son!
So, Jesus entered this dark world, and He brought a different light we had never seen. He did not live in despair. He showed mercy, grace, and forgiveness. He was not even hampered by sickness or death. He showed God’s power and God’s love for the sick and the dying by healing them. Then He willingly went to the darkest place on behalf of all humanity, by entering the depths of hell on the cross: being abandoned by His own Father. But even there He lived in hope that He would rise. Three days later He came forth from the grave with a firm message of light for all of humanity: “Death has been conquered!” He created a way out! He blew through death with the dynamite of His love. He created a new kingdom to live in.
Paul told the Colossians and us that the Father had already transferred them into this different kingdom – the kingdom of Jesus – the Son He loves. It is not a kingdom of success or great health. It is not necessarily even a kingdom of good feelings. It is a kingdom of redemption and forgiveness. It does not have to do with relationships on earth as much as it has to do with our relationship with God. Within this kingdom – when we are transferred there, we have redemption. We have forgiveness.
In the early days of living on the range in the United States, the settlers used to burn an acre of grass near the acreage that they used to live on. That way, if a fire ever came through, they could run into the middle of the already burnt field. That way, they would know that there would be nothing to catch fire. In Jesus, when we are baptized and brought to faith in Him, the Holy Spirit transfers us to that safe place in Jesus, where God’s wrath and the fires of hell have already burned. That is where you are right now as you believe in Jesus. You have free and full forgiveness. Jesus already paid for it. You have His entire grace and mercy. You do not have to worry whether you still owe God something, as if you haven’t already suffered for your sins. Jesus already paid for them. In your baptism and through faith you have already been transferred there. You have already been rescued in the midst of the fires of life. No matter what happens, God wants you to know and feel the security of being in His love here and now.
Now we see Jesus, and we look at the world differently. Jesus is also the head of the body, that being the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that in all things he might have the highest rank. What this means is that we see Jesus as King in everything, even in death. Even when it seems there is no God, when we’ve been chased down to the an Egyptian army by parting a sea in two. A} We have seen how Jesus raised a man from the dead after being in the grave for four days. B} We have seen Jesus convert Paul who used to persecute Christians and put them to death. So yes, we know Jesus is King through the eyes of faith.
If He has the highest rank, A} it means that He comes first in my marriage. I want to bring my bride to Jesus. B} My job is a gift from Him, so I want to glorify HIS name when I work. C} I see my house and my children as gifts of Jesus, and I want to take care of them to the best of my ability. D} I even see my own disabilities, sickness and death as God’s way of saving my soul. Everything that I have, everything that I am, it all goes back to Jesus.
The Holy Spirit has opened our eyes to see that Jesus is King! So even while the thief was dying on the cross and Jesus was dying right next to him, he recognized Jesus as a king. Even though he was dying the same way the other criminal was, he died in hope that he was going to heaven. Jesus opened a whole different world to him and to us too!
During today’s world events with Russia invading Ukraine, our government leader’s slip ups, election’s mudslinging, crime, drugs, severe weather like Hurricane Ian, devastating fires in western U.S., illegal immigration, jobs, the economy, and death of world leaders like Queen Elizabeth of England. We take comfort in Christ as our King.
Many may be panicking, while the rest may be ignoring the situation. As much as you may hate all the politics of it, you must understand that politics do matter. There are consequences to who we put in power. Presidents and elected people in congress have power, and we either suffer or succeed because of our leadership.
All the fighting in this world is a consequence of the devil. He wants chaos. He wants death. He wants sin. He wants people to panic and rebel. The sad thing is the devil appears at times, to be winning on many fronts.
But God the Father has sent His heroic Son to come and rescue us. When Jesus takes over your life, He gives you peace and comfort of knowing your sins are forgiven. The demons of guilt and despair and evil desires are drowned. You are given a new life to fight against this world. What a gift, to have Jesus as your King. He is no President that has been elected. He can’t be impeached. His work can’t be undone, and His kingdom will never end. He is the God of love and compassion and forgiveness. Among all the temporary leaders of this world, Christ is our King, and we would want no other. Amen.