Colossians: Suffering and Mystery

Cross on wallPassage: Colossians 1:24-2:5

Audio file of sermon can be found at the PRV website.

Sermon

  • There are two themes or concepts within this passage
    • Suffering for the sake of others
    • God’s Mystery

Suffering

  • The first point is Paul’s suffering
    • He is a servant of the church
    • His suffering is to their benefit

The Kingdom NT Right now I’m having a celebration – a celebration of my sufferings, which are for your benefit! And I’m steadily completing, in my own flesh, what is presently lacking in the king’s afflictions on behalf of his body, which is the church. I became the church’s servant, according to the terms laid down by God when he gave me my commission on your behalf, the commission to fulfill God’s word. –Colossians 1:24-25

The Messsage:  I want you to know how glad I am that it’s me sitting here in this jail and not you. There’s a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world—the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share in the church’s part of that suffering. When I became a servant in this church, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God’s way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth. –Colossians 1:24-25

  • St. Paul’s conversion
    • Commissioned to “carry my (God’s) name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
    • Acts 9:15b
    • Yes, St. Paul’s commission is not for everyone… I understand that
    • But each of us has a commission from Jesus to preach the Gospel and to love others as ourselves
    • This means that there will be times when we will have to celebrate, as Paul did, our sufferings on behalf of the church
      • Meaning, that there are times when we must set aside our own passions and dreams
      • Set aside our wants
      • For that which benefits and blesses the whole body
      • This is called humility

For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith. For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function, so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another. –Romans 12:3-5

  • Why did Paul do this?
    • Because, verse 2:2, he wanted to see their hearts “encouraged” – to have them “experience all the wealth of definite understanding and to come to the knowledge of God’s Mystery, the Messiah, the King!”
    • There are times when we, the Bride and body of Christ, must suffer so that others can hear the Gospel message
    • In a lot of ways that is what you guys are doing
      • I know that it is not easy to send out your pastor
      • It is not easy to change leadership
      • Emily and I were unease about our decision because we knew the struggles what was to come…
        • Yet God left us with no choice
        • Similar to Paul, we had a commission
        • And similar to Paul, you all have taken on the suffering of sending out your pastor so that others might hear about Jesus
        • Celebrate this suffering as it is what your King Jesus did for you
          • He suffered so that we might be free
          • We are in good company!!!

The Mystery

  • This brings us to the second, and main point, the mystery of God
  • Typically we think of a mystery as something that is difficult or impossible to understand
    • Or perhaps something like a crime mystery
    • That some folks, if they are smart enough, can figure out
    • But most folks can’t
    • This is not the way in which the term is used
    • The term “mystery” is used by Paul 27 times
      • In each usage, Paul is pointing toward Jesus
      • He is telling us that God’s plan in history, through hidden in the past, can be seen in Jesus

The Messsage:  This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple.

  • Many members of the Colossians church were Gentiles
    • Paul is telling them that Jesus had come to bring light and freedom to them
    • This has always been the message of God
      • If you look back through the Old Testament you will see glimpses of the mission
      • Yet it was hidden as the people of Israel kept adding too and hiding the message
      • Adam & Eve
        • Before there were a Jewish people
        • God said that he was going to bring freedom to all humans
        • Noah
        • Abraham
          • Bless him and his family so that ALL the peoples on the planet would be blessed
          • This was the commission to started the Jewish people
          • This was re-established to Isaac and Jacob
          • Re-established on Mount Sinai
            • Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
            • The Prophets of Old spoke of this mystery
              • This is why you see references to the nations worship God alongside versus about Israel
              • Here’s another part of the Mystery
                • That God Himself came down
                • Even though there are clues in the Scriptures, no one expected this
                • But it happened
                  • History has been changed
                  • Jesus, God Himself, came down and broken the chains that bound us!
                  • And as such, Jesus is the one we are proclaim

The Kingdom NT  He is the one we are proclaiming. We are instructing everybody and teaching everybody in every kind of wisdom, so that we can present everybody grown up, complete, in the king. That’s what I am working for, struggling with all his energy which is powerfully at work within me.  

Keep the Message Simple

  • The problem with a simple message is that we humans like to make it complicated
  • We don’t like simple, we really don’t
  • We add things to it
  • We say that it is all about Jesus
    • And then we add a lot of rules around Jesus
    • We start defining things this way and that
    • Yet, as Paul tells us, it is ALL about Jesus
    • Just follow Jesus
    • You want to see God, to follow God, then follow Jesus
    • Read the Gospel and go and do the things of Jesus
    • Preach the message of the Kingdom that God came down and rescued us from sin, evil, death and the bondage of life

He is the place

  • Paul goes to further explain why Jesus is so  important
  • Chapter 2:2-3

You see, I’d like you to know just what a struggle I am having on behalf of you, and the family in Laodicea, and all the people who don’t know me by sight. I want their hearts to be encouraged as they’re brought together in love, I want them to experience all the wealth of definite understanding and to come to the knowledge of God’s Mystery, the Messiah, the King! He is the place where you’ll find all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I’m saying this so that nobody will deceive you with plausible words. Through I’m away from you in person, you see, I am present with you in the spirit, and I’m celebrating as I keep an eye on your good order, and the solidity of your faith in the king.

  • All hidden treasure of wisdom and knowledge are to be found in Jesus
  • There is nothing that is hidden from those who follow Jesus
    • As in, once you bow your knee to Jesus
    • You are His
    • There was a false religion doing around back then – and still to this day – that says that you have to have Jesus plus
      • Rules
      • Hidden information
      • Some people are more holy than others
      • Etc.
      • False!!!
      • If you are in Christ, if you have bowed your knee and given your life to Jesus
      • Then you have been set free!!
      • True, some folks are further along on the journey
        • And we must learn from those folks
        • But just because they have been walking longer doesn’t mean that Jesus loves them more

Main Point

  • We suffer so that others can hear
  • Jesus is the mystery of God

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