World English Bible translation
2:13You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; 2:14 having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he has taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross; 2:15 having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Yesterday's scripture reminded the Colossians of two important rituals, circumcision and baptism. Paul wrote to them and told them that there was a circumcision that was not done by human hands, but was done at the Cross of Christ. He also told them that their baptism was a sacrament that united them with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today's lesson proceeds to tell them even more of the wonderful things that God has done on their behalf through the Cross.
God used the Cross to give life to the dead. Even when they were spiritually dead and without hope, God made them alive with Christ. We have spoken often in this epistle and the letter to the Ephesian church about the rebellious nature of man. But God shows His mercy and grace in rescuing even those who are His enemies. God brings the dead to life and forgives the unforgivable.
He accomplishes this by the work that Jesus accomplished on the Cross. All of our sins and transgressions were placed on Him and they were crucified with Him. But Paul goes on to write another remarkable thing here. Not only was sin placed on Jesus at the cross, but also Paul says that the ordinances (or laws) that stood against us were also placed on Him. Jesus bore the condemnation of the law at the Cross and the law was crucified with Him as well. Christ not only took away sin and death, but He took away the law as well.
People get very nervous with passages like this where Paul tells people they are no longer under law, but are now under grace. We are by nature creatures of law. We want there to be laws that we can easily understand and if we find ourselves in a situation were no laws exist, we will make some up. Paul did not tell people that having come to Christ we were now lawless. But, what he did tell them was that Christ was the end of the law. Jesus fulfilled the obligation to the law for all those who walk by faith in His death and resurrection.
Now the law no longer opposes and restrains us. Christ lives in us. Our obligation is to the Father and to the Son. We go where the King of Creation sends us and do what He instructs us to do. We are children that the Father instructs and brings to maturity. A household cannot be run like a legal system. Parents who try this raise frightened and eventually rebellious children. But God conforms His children into the likeness of His Son by placing Christ in our lives and in our hearts. He lives in us and through us and is always drawing us closer to the Father.
Paul has one more thing to say about the work of Christ on the Cross. Earlier in this book Paul wrote that Christ is above all principalities and powers. We talked about how this was a term that Jews like Paul used in referring to the spiritual enemies of God. Now Paul writes that at the cross, God "stripped" these principalities and powers and "made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." The opponents of God use law, sin and guilt against us. At the cross, God disarmed them of every weapon that they can use. In the sacrificial death of Jesus, God completely triumphed over His enemies.
At the time, the cross did not look like a triumph. Jesus was stripped and beaten. He was nailed naked and defenseless on a wooden structure and reviled by His enemies. But God works in a fashion that defies all of our conventions. He brings the dead to life. He reconciles Himself to His enemies. He turns the death of His Son into His greatest victory.
Are you ready for God to turn your greatest defeat into victory? Can you serve a God that takes away everything that ever stood opposed to you and turns it into your own benefit?
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