Advent 2020 Devotional – Fourth Sunday of Advent

LIGHTING THE CANDLE

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:11-14

Missionary statesman E. Stanley Jones said that early Christians never said in despair, “Look what the world is coming to!” Rather, they joyfully exclaimed, “Look what has come to the world!” They knew their lives had been radically changed by the Good News of the coming of the Son of God to the world. Nothing would ever be the same. God’s true Light had shined into their darkness, and they knew the darkness could not put it out (John 1:5). Neither a deranged emperor nor mob could take away the new joy and confidence that was theirs in Christ Jesus. They had been set free as God’s light shined on them!

Notice the words “rescued” and “transferred” in today’s scripture describing the wondrous change for Christians. The Colossians would have understood this to mean a “kingdom transfer” from the dominion of darkness into the dominion of God’s Light. Paul speaks of this “kingdom transfer” as the life transformation experienced in Christ, “in whom we have redemption.”

Paul is using words the Colossians would have loved when he talks about ‘rescue’, ‘transfer’, and ‘redemption’. He is speaking their language. That is because many Christians were slaves, often seized as prisoners in Rome’s many wars. Paul uses the word “redemption” (Greek: apolutrosis), which meant the freeing of a slave. But for a slave to be freed, the payment of a redemption price, a ransom, was required. Paul draws upon this imagery of redemption to describe the believer as freed from the kingdom of sin and death by the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Darkness hung over Jesus’ cross as He took to himself the sins of the world, suffering death for everyone. For three hours darkness covered the whole land as it raged against God’s true Light (Luke 23:44). But God’s Light blazed through the darkness and the darkness could not put it out. Three days later, death was overwhelmed by the light and life of the risen Jesus! So that “In him we have redemption [apolutrosis] through his blood…” (Ephesians 1:7-8).

The Redeemer has “rescued” and “transferred” us from the kingdom of death and darkness, empowering and energizing us “to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. In today’s text Paul spells out what redemption means in very practical terms. It means that we are made “strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power”, and that we are “prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father.”

Yes! Look what has come to our world! We have been rescued and transferred into the kingdom of God’s light!

PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP

PRAYER

Gracious Father, we joyfully thank you that through our Lord Jesus you have set us free! You have taken our side and rescued us from the kingdom of sin and death and transferred us into your kingdom of light. So help us today to live freely, to live lightly, knowing we are loved and cherished by you. Amen.

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