Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting from Captivity to the Cross
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Colossians 2:4-15 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Today we return to the English Standard Version (ESV) and the tantalizing reminder from Paul about what Jesus has done for us (Verses 13-15). A friend of mine sent me this quote from John Stott’s book Message of Romans. Even though it is referring to another passage of Paul’s, I think it speaks to the recurring theme of Paul in most of his letters.
If Christ’s death was a death to sin (which it was), and if his resurrection was a resurrection to God (which it was), and if by faith-baptism we have been united to Christ in his death and resurrection (which we have been), then we ourselves have died to sin and risen to God. We must therefore “reckon” (AV), “consider” (RSV), “regard” (NEB), “look upon” (JBP) or “count” (NIV) ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in,” or by reason of our union with, “Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). This “reckoning” is not make-believe. It is not screwing up our faith to believe what we do not believe. We are not to pretend that our old nature has died, when we know perfectly well it has not. Instead we are to realise and remember that our former self did die with Christ, thus putting an end to its career. We are to consider that in fact we are, “dead to sin and alive to God” (11), like Christ (10). Once we grasp this, that our old life has ended, with the score settled, the debt paid and the law satisfied, we shall want to have nothing to do with it.
Our old life needs to be shifted away. This cannot be done by us, but it is done by Jesus who gives us the ability to follow and obey (Colossians 2:6). It is because Jesus completes everything. He is the miracle of the incarnation. He is the one who chose to dwell among us. He is the source of all power. He is the one who defeats death and promises us the resurrection.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV).
Recalibrate: Who wants to be accepted and forgiven? How would you share this as a good thing to someone who feels there is nothing lacking?
Respond: Share a prayer for thanks for all that Jesus has done in your life.
Research: Read one of the recommended commentaries on this passage.
Remember: “Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught. And always be thankful” (Colossians 2:7, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
With your little one, play the blanket game. Lie under a blanket pulling it over the top of your head so you cannot see anything. On the count of three pull the blanket back as quickly as you can, shouting, “Yay, I can see! What can you see?” Wait for your child to tell you what they can see. Take turns at pulling away the blanket and saying what you can see. Play this until your child has had enough. I love that Jesus is, has been, and always will be the one who shows us how beautiful loving is. He does this because this is who He is—love. Jesus says, “Come play with me and see how love lives.”
Yesterday we talked about playing on Jesus’ team. We are playing the game of Living Love. Have you ever played a game that you did not want to stop? Jesus did not stop living love ever! He didn’t stop loving when He was tired or scared or hungry or even when His brothers told Him to. Jesus played this game till it was finished and He won. Choose to play like Jesus. Say “Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your team and I want to play like you.” Remember Colossians 2:7 “Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught. And always be thankful.” Pray these words: “Thank you, Jesus, for asking us to play. Thank you for winning the game, We know that you are always with us in the game. We want to play like you Jesus. Amen.”
I used to get bullied a lot when I was younger. There was this kid who seemed to make it his goal to harm me in some way. Sometimes it was violently, sometimes it was emotionally. Sometimes he just found a way to make me feel like I didn’t matter or even exist! It was tough trying to stay positive when someone leaves you bruised and broken regularly. It’s easy in those times to believe the negativity that you receive and think your tormenter is telling the truth. You start to believe that you really don’t matter.
It’s a dark place to live in that sort of depression.
Paul speaks to the same types of people that existed as far back as Paul’s time: “He [meaning Jesus] disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15).
Paul seems to be showing that there is something greater than darkness in the moments when it seems like depression, anger, and loneliness are the only thoughts that exist in your mind. The guy who picked on me sure wasn’t a “ruler” or “authority” when I was in middle school, but he seemed like one at times. When he spoke to me the way he did, his words felt powerful, strong, real, heavy, and suffocating.
But I was able to persevere even when it was tough. I wish I didn’t have to go through what I did to make it to where I am. I also didn’t get to see him “disarmed” or have a “public example” made out of him. But I have come to realize that we don’t always see rulers overruled. That doesn’t mean God isn’t working in the background, softening the hearts of the bullies and soothing the hearts of those they pick on. Paul is pretty clear, the bullies don’t win. God does.
Where can you see God working in the tough times you go through? How do you think God’s light has helped you get through the darkness? Is there anything you can do to help someone who might need to see God through you?
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ” (Col. 2:13). You have moved from death into life. In this life, too, you are free to live. The Gospel brings freedom, and you are free to live with confidence, joy, and freedom from guilt and shame. Shame has been nailed to the Cross and destroyed by love. Live freely and boldly.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.