Though tragedy strike mercilessly from now till the end of time, there is a hero come to save us all: Jesus Christ.
“For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.” (Colossians 1:19 – 20 ESV)
The past week was tragic. It was tragic for my family: my mother continues to hurdle towards the brink of death as she suffers the end stages of her terminal cancer. And the week was also tragic nationally: the same hurtful cycle of oppression and retaliation that has been going on in this country since the era of Jim Crow (and the slave patrol days before that) flared up yet again. If the Civil Rights Act did not free our nation from the subtle deceitfulness of sin, what hope do we have? Cruel murder cannot repay for cruel murder, but in the end, mere policy reform will not change hearts either. There is only one ultimate answer, one true hope, one perfect solution: Jesus Christ.
“For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” — The totality of God dwelled in human form. All of God in all of His Allness came down to live among us as the God-Man, Jesus. Nor did He do so begrudgingly. He did not grumble and carry on out of a sense of duty. No, He was pleased to do so. Delighted! Thrilled! Completely satisfied. He desires us so much that He endured the shame and pain with joy — He knew what the result would be.
“and through Him to reconcile to Himself” — Jesus came because our God is deeply relational at His absolute core. As Father, Son, and Spirit relate in perfect, boundless intimacy and shared honor, so too they desire to lavish their relationship upon us. And so when sin shattered our glorious bond, God sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself — to restore relationship. Have you ever been separated from someone and then restored to relationship again? That experience was a mere shadow of our restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And we in turn are called not to be “ministers of confrontation” but “ministers of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5); our aim is not to “confront” but to restore relationship.
“all things, whether on earth or in heaven” — Who or what is Jesus reconciling? Everything. The entire universe. Our sin is so horrific before a holy God that even nature itself groans in pain (Romans 8:22 – 23). But the whole earth and seas below and all the starry skies and angels above will be restored. All wounds will be healed. All frowns will be turned upside down. The great Gospel is far grander than any one of us, or even all of us; it is good news for the entire cosmos.
“making peace” — When relationship is restored, peace follows. And peace is not merely the absence of conflict, but total togetherness: real, true harmony and wholeness. It is not “Let’s agree to disagree,” but “I love you.”
“by the blood of His cross.” — Peace was purchased by violence. Rather than lash out against His oppressors, Jesus bore the hatred of the Jewish religious leaders and the violence of the Roman police; as He was cruelly murdered, His blood restored relationship and total harmony for all who trust in Him.
The believers in the small town of Colossae were confused about how to live life: some thought they could live life by trying hard to follow a list of rules while others thought you had to pray to angels and still yet others thought you had to trust in secular philosophy. But Paul makes his point very clear: there is only one answer, and His name is Jesus. As I face the seemingly unbearable thought of losing my own mother, I must remember that He joyfully, eagerly chose to die for her — and He is now calling her home, the ultimate restoration of relationship and peace. And as we collectively face national tragedy, we must humbly worship at the foot of the cross, for our hope is not and never will be in this world.
QUESTIONS TO ASK EACH OTHER:
(1) What truths in these verses inspire you to exalt Christ? How can we praise Him together right now?
(2) How are you experiencing “restored relationship” with God now?
(3) How are you experiencing peace (wholeness, true harmony) now?
(4) What will the world look like when relationship and peace win in the end?
QUESTIONS TO ASK CHILDREN:
(1) Can you think of a time when you and a sibling or friend didn’t get along, but then you forgave each other and played together again? How did that make you feel when you were friends again?
(2) Imagine that you did something wrong, and then someone else happily took your punishment for you because they love you so much. In fact, that’s what Jesus did! Jesus was punished instead of us. How does that make you feel about Jesus?
(3) The good news is that we were enemies of God, but Jesus came to restore our relationship with HIm. How does that make you feel about Jesus? (Maybe we can pray and tell Jesus that together!)