Proper 11 • Colossians 1:21–29 • July 21, 2013
By Robert Weise
Reconciliation: Ministry and Mystery
We all love a good mystery; a mystery where we don’t find out until the very end who the “mystery person” is. This may be likened to, “Oh, he/she is the one!” And when we see and hear who this “mystery person” is, the whole story line is reconciled. We get the big picture and context of the story.
As St. Paul writes to the church of Colossae, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ, he is setting the record straight regarding the incarnation of Christ and his resurrection in the face of the “pre-gnostic teachings” that were running rampant around Colossae (I would refer you to Dr. Paul Deterding’s Concordia Commentary on Colossians for an expanded discourse on these heresies). To that end, Paul emphasizes the mystery that was hidden for ages and is now revealed in Jesus Christ, his person and work, who reconciles all creation. The ministry and mystery of reconciliation rests with Christ who joins us to him by grace through faith alone.
The mysteries of books and movies resolve when the “mystery” is revealed. There is nothing more for us to anticipate or learn. The mystery is revealed and the story is over.
However, this is not the case as Paul writes to the saints at Colossae assuring them that the mystery hidden for ages is revealed in the incarnate Christ Jesus who entered the human story of our sinful “alien hostile mind and evil deeds” and reconciled us to himself by his death and resurrection. We are declared reconciled by Christ’s “body of flesh by his death.” God baptized us into this “body of flesh by his death.” We are stable and steadfast by faith alone. You have heard this gospel message of reconciliation.
As the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord states in article VIII, paragraph 96: “ . . . the Holy Scripture (Col 1:27) calls Christ the mystery, over which all heretics stumble and fall headlong, we warn all Christians that they not pry presumptuously into this mystery with their reason but simply believe with the dear apostles, shut the eyes of their reason, take their understanding captive in obedience to Christ, and take comfort and rejoice without ceasing in this, that in Christ our flesh and blood have been raised so high, to the right hand of the majesty and almighty power of God.”
This story is no longer a mystery to Christians. Christ is revealed and grace-gifted to us in our baptism assuring us that the storyline continues when he presents us to his heavenly Father on judgment day in heaven and says: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
I. The revealed reconciliation (vv. 21–23)
A. From brokenness to blamelessness in Christ (vv. 21–22)
B. From faithlessness to faithfulness in Christ (v. 23)
II. The mystery in reconciliation revealed (vv. 26–27: Christ is the
III. The ministry of reconciliation proclaimed (vv. 23, 28–29)
A. Proclamation of reconciliation in Christ in all creation (v. 23)
B. Proclamation of reconciliation in Christ in all things (vv. 24, 28–29)
1. In suffering for the sake of the gospel (v. 24)
2. In stewardship for the sake of the gospel (v. 25)
3. In all wisdom for the sake of the Gospel (v. 28)
4. In the future glory of salvation and eternal life (v. 27)