“All Because of Jesus”  Colossians 1:13-20

  The dominion of darkness will tell you that sin doesn’t matter, that you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.  Such “freedom” becomes a bondage. 

Christ The King Sunday  November 19 and 20, 2022

“All Because of Jesus”  Colossians 1:13-20

Rev. John R. Larson  Ascension Lutheran Church  Littleton, Colorado

             There are quite a few folks at Ascension who don’t like this time of year.  This is the time of year that limits what some folks at Ascension can do, especially in the evening.  This is the time when we seem to get more darkness than light, and some of us don’t like that at all.

            We have quite a few folks who don’t drive at night.  That means, when the sun goes down at 5:00, or even earlier, they can’t get out and drive somewhere.  The power of darkness, physically, changes life for many people – especially now.

            And there is more – millions of people are affected every year by a thing given the acronym – SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It is a depression that many folks get in the winter months.  It is related to the changes in the seasons and the lack of natural sunlight.  The power of darkness is a strong power.

            But there is a stronger power of darkness – a spiritual darkness that can take over the human soul and the life that we live.  Paul, in this reading from Colossians speaks about “the dominion of darkness,” – the rule of darkness, the kingdom of darkness.  (Colossians 1:13).  When he writes to the Ephesians he says, “For you were once darkness”, (Ephesians 5:8) and “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness”, (Ephesians 5:11).  He would add in the following chapter of that book, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

            The power of darkness is strong.  It lies to you.  It promises you good things, better things, and only gives you a failed substitute.  It deceives you and leaves you empty.  The power of darkness leaves you hopeless and discouraged.  It takes away any kind of lasting joy.  But you know that don’t you?  Darkness lied to you.  In John 1, which is the wonderful prologue to the truth about Jesus, this is what is said in contrast between Jesus and darkness, “In him (Jesus) was light, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”  (John 1:4-5)  Then in John 3 the contrast between the brilliance of light (Jesus) and the darkness of evil (the devil) is given, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”  (John 3:19-20)

            The dominion of darkness will tell you that sin doesn’t matter, that you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.  Such “freedom” becomes a bondage.  The dominion of darkness rejects that we are people who must listen to the will of God in every area of our life.  The dominion of darkness asks the question that Satan asked Eve in the Garden of Eden before she stepped over the line and brought sin into the world.  Remember?  Satan tempted her with the question, “Did God really say…”   

            And then the liar – the devil – becomes the accuser.  Years ago I spoke to a person who spoke about their failure to live a God-pleasing life.  They made the wrong choices and damaged their life and the life of many others.  They were honest about how they screwed up life for too many.  But then they screwed it up worse – they wouldn’t accept forgiveness.  They wouldn’t believe that anyone- including God – could forgive their sin.  They remained in the dominion of darkness.  And is that ever a dark place!!  Guilt, ongoing, perpetual, never-ending guilt, is the work of the devil.

            Did you catch what God’s truth says about a greater kingdom, a brighter and more brilliant one?  “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  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 sin.”  (Colossians 1:12-14)

            This is the last Sunday of the church year but as we do this, it doesn’t just come to an end, barely making it to the finish line, but rather it is like the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.  Today is a day of triumph and proclamation – it is Christ the King Sunday.  The authority of darkness has been defeated by the authority of light – Jesus Christ.

            Colossians 1 contains a section known as “The Christ Hymn”.  Christ is exalted as the final word that God would speak, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20)

            Darkness does not have the final word in you or in me.  That battle for our life, our mind, our soul, our eternity has already been fought and it has been won – by Jesus – the King.  On TV there is an AT&T commercial for the I-Phone 14.  Lily Adams, the long-time face of AT&T and LeBron James, the basketball player, in the commercial, are battling about who can get the final word.  They talk fast and move fast until the end – when the phone gets the final word.  I’m wondering – do you have those battles with your friends or your family about who gets to have the final word?

            Do you remember what the scene outside Jerusalem looked like on Good Friday afternoon from noon till 3?  “From the sixth hour (noon) until the ninth hour (3 o’clock) darkness came over all the land.  About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”  (See Matthew 27:45-46)  For that moment it seemed like darkness had the final word.

            But that reign was short lived.  On Easter, unmistakably, darkness was overwhelmed by light, “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.”  (Matthew 28:2-3)

            Darkness didn’t reign on that day nor on this day.  Darkness is not your master, it doesn’t control you, Jesus is King!!  All things were created by Him, and for Him.  He is the head of His body, the church.  All the fullness of God dwells in Him.  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (John 8:12)

            If ever you come into this beautiful holy place, this sanctuary, at night, you will know that those who built this place wanted to cover the thought of light, God’s light, coming into darkness.  It is never dark in this place.  Lights shine on our stained glass, illuminating them from the outside in in the dark of night.  The confession of the life of God, as creator, as savior in Jesus, and as the giver of spiritual gifts and eternal life through the Holy Spirit, comes into this darkened place.  We have a candle that is constantly burning, we call it our eternal candle, and it tells us of our everlasting and ever-present God.  Dominion of darkness?  No, kingdom of light.

            Who are you?  How do you define yourself?  What is your identity?  We are who we are because of Jesus.  We were created by Him.  We were restored by Him.  We have peace with God through Him.  Paul reminds us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”  (Ephesians 5:8-11)

            In a few days we will celebrate Thanksgiving.  I’d like you to add this to your prayers, it is a prayer of thanks – “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.”  Thank God for Jesus, who shines His brilliant light into our darkness.  Amen!!   




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