Summary: Christ, our King, has rescued us from the power of sin, death, and the devil.
Sermon Text: Colossians 1:13-20
Christ the King Sunday – November 25, 2001
A couple of weeks ago we all heard about those social aid workers who were kidnapped by Taliban forces and held captive for several days. What’s amazing is that two of the hostages were held prisoner apparently for sharing the gospel.
And then the news came. The prisoners were released. In, what was touted as a “daring rescue effort”, the Northern Alliance swept in and smuggled those hostages out of enemy hands. It was a pretty amazing story with a happy ending. We like those kinds of stories, don’t we? We like it when the “good guys” win.
Stories of daring rescues, brave heroes, and triumphant endings always appeal to us. Today, the apostle Paul recounts a story of daring rescue. In fact, it’s a story to which we can all relate. So, listen as the apostle tells you about THE GREATEST RESCUE EVER! It’s the account of 1) A King Who Becomes the Captive and then of how 2) The Captive Becomes the Crowned.
1) The King Becomes Captive
Speaking of rescue and escape, one of my favorite movies is The Great Escape. It takes place in Germany during World War II. It’s about a group of POW’s trying to escape from German prison camp. They plan a massive escape by tunneling out and under the fence of the camp. Unfortunately, only a few actually make it to safety. The rest are recaptured and executed.
People may no longer be threatened by the radical Nazi regime, but people – all people – still suffer from oppression and captivity. It’s the sinister dominion ruled by Satan himself. His evil rule that has control over all hearts and lives. It completely dominates. The apostle Paul refers to this as the dominion of darkness. This is the realm of spiritual ignorance and fear, in which our hearts and minds are conceived.
All people are born into this captivity of darkness. We are spiritual POW’s and Satan has complete influence over our existence in this life. We come into this world shackled and bound, unable to move. There’s nothing we can do to gain freedom. Unlike the POW’s in that movie, we have no ability or desire to work an escape. We can’t tunnel our way out; shoot our way out; cut through the wires – nothing.
That’s because we are born into this world without any understanding of the truth. The momenet we are conceived, this sinful flesh doubts God. We enter this realm with great suspicions towards the Lord. Satan, our own flesh, even this world, are constantly whispering in our ears and telling us lies about God: “ You can’t trust him. You don’t want to trust him. He’s a liar!” they say.
Propaganda is an effective tool used in time of war. Warring countries often intimidate one another by blanketing the opposing country with leaflets or fliers, which have threatening messages on them. It’s a sort of fear tactic meant to break down the enemy. The devil is the master fear tactics. He uses a propaganda all his own. In fact, it’s really a sort of mind control. The devil brainwashes us and then he uses our own bodies, our friends and families, and even the world around us, to confirm us in our suspicions towards God. The result is that we don’t trust him. We don’t love him. Actually, we hate him. We want nothing to do with him. That’s because we are void of any real spiritual understanding. The sinful heart knows nothing but Satan’s propaganda and lies.
We’re born into this captivity and know nothing more. The truth is there’s nothing for us to know. We’re dominated by darkness and ignorance, knowing nothing but lies. If left alone, this would be our lot -- to be held captive in the darkness of ignorance and sin for time and eternity. Yet, the Scriptures clearly record the greatest rescue ever. The apostle Paul recounts: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” All at once, light floods the dominion of darkness. We see – we understand – the grace of God.
A daring rescue has been executed. The Bible calls this daring rescue “redemption.” To redeem something means, “to buy it back.” Now, imagine, we are shackled in fear and unbelief; our hearts and minds held prisoner. Suddenly, a figure enters this realm of Satan – the dominion of darkness – and he’s an intimidating figure. His clothing dazzles with splendor, the likes of which you’ve never seen. He seems royal, a king. Light and glory exude from every pore. In fact, he is the reason your dark prison cell is illuminated; he’s the source of this glorious light. One glimpse of this stranger and you know he is brave and valiant. This stranger begins to talk with Satan. There’s a heated discussion, but you can’t make out the words. After sometime, it appears the devil comes to an agreement with this wonderful stranger.