Studies in Colossians – 1:26

This is a series of brief comments on Paul’s Epistle to the Colossian Christians. Not a full commentary, it is meant to encourage readers to dwell on the various verses and passages that comprise the letter. Whenever we dwell in Scripture, not rushing but truly dwelling for a time, we find its richness emerging. Those who have strolled through a forest know what happens when they sit quietly for a time: All sorts of life emerges and the silent forest begins to buzz with the sounds of life. Just so in Bible study. . .

The word translated in verse 26 as “mystery” could also be “secret.” Though Old Testament figures, especially David, knew that our Lord inclines toward forgiveness, they had no way of knowing just how the Lord reconciled justice and mercy. It was kept secret from them.

Now in Christ Jesus that secret is made known. Justice demands recompense, restitution, or at the least punishment. Mercy demands that sins be overlooked. How can the Lord deal with human sinfulness both justly and mercifully? The answer is in the Cross and the Empty Tomb of Jesus Christ. All the sinfulness of humankind was centered on the crucified Jesus, who so fully accepted that sin that in effect he owned it as his own. He identified with us specifically as sinners. And the result was that he took on himself not only the sin but the punishment for that sin, which was death itself.

That was only the first half of the process of reconciling us to our Creator. The second and essential half was the Resurrection of Jesus on the third day. Just as Jesus identified with us in our sinfulness, we are to identify with him on the Cross and in walking from the tomb to eternal life. Just as he took our death into himself, so we are to take his risen life into ourselves by faith. It is our oneness with Christ, our communion with him, that constitutes our salvation from death to life.

This is rich and glorious! And Paul uses delightful words to describe this now-known secret: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” “It is no longer I who live,” he told the Galatian Christians, “but Christ who lives in me.”

If you wish to have Christ as some sort of added blessing to your life, you will discover he does not cooperate. The blessing will not come. Christ either is our life or we have nothing to do with him whatsoever. We die with Christ and we live with Christ. We are dead to ourselves but alive to God in Christ Jesus, as Paul told the Romans.

All our hope for the eternity that stretches before us lies in these simple words: “Christ in you.”

Are you lost – and found! – in Christ Jesus?

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About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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