When you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (verses 13-15)
Three momentous scenes from Jesus’ life and ministry provide the backdrop to this amazing passage. And we ourselves are caught up in them.
Scene #1: It’s early morning on the third day after Jesus’ death. His tomb is sealed shut against the outside world, a massive stone rolled across its entrance – a Roman seal prohibits tampering, and a guard of armed soldiers enforces the status quo. More daunting yet, death reigns, barring the way.
Yet, in a split second, all is overturned. An earthquake rocks the site. An angel descends like lightning, rolling back the stone. The soldiers become like dead men. And at the very centre, Jesus bursts through death’s cold grip and surges forth into unconquerable life.
Paul tells us that we ourselves were locked in the impossibility of death, having succumbed to the overpowering infection of sin in our very nature. Yet, all was changed in a transformative moment. Resurrection power, from God’s own hand, touched our lives, making us alive. Paul uses a verb with one of his signature prefixes (meaning “together with”), to communicate that our life has been caught up in Christ’s own – we have been made alive “together with” Christ. Death, through sin, no longer holds us. We have been raised to life. The tomb is left behind. Christ the Lord is risen today – Hallelujah!
Scene #2: Jesus is crucified. Nails, piercing hands and feet, cruelly rivet him to the cross. The charge against him (“King of the Jews”), in mocking accusation, is nailed above his head, emblazoned in three languages. There is no avoiding the condemnation and judgement and shame.
Remarkably, our own shame was nailed there, too, together with our guilt and condemnation – all of it. The decrees of the law had stood against us, opposed to us, shouting aloud our sin and rebellion and failure. But all of that has been nailed to Jesus’ cross, taken to death with him. The accusations have been cancelled, erased and wiped clean, like chalk from a blackboard, or smudges from a child’s face, or infection purged and cleansed from a wound. The power of the scene is revealed in the inclusiveness of the word “all” – nothing is excluded, since “all” is absolutely expansive in its grasp. Therefore, the phrase, “all our sins,” leaves nothing out, with no unwanted excess spilling over – “all” is forgiven, cancelled, wiped clean, nailed to the cross.
Scene #3: The veil is peeled back. We see the cosmic reality. The spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places have been apprehended, disarmed, and conquered. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work”(1 John 3:8). That work is done – it happened on the cross. In that decisive moment the jig was up. The evil one and all his cohort were defeated, Christ himself triumphing over them. In so doing, he made a public spectacle of them, exposing them for time and eternity.
We ourselves are caught up in this new reality. The end has not yet fully come, but the decisive victory has been won. Therefore, we can resist the devil, and he will indeed flee from us. We can pray with confidence, “deliver us from the evil one,” knowing that Jesus is truly the Victor.
So, fix your eyes on Jesus. We have been made alive together with him. “All” our sin and guilt and shame has been taken away, nailed to his cross. And he has won victory, once for all. Praise his worthy name.
Lord Jesus, embrace me in your cross, embrace me in your resurrection, embrace me in your victory. To your name be the glory. Amen.
Reflect: Sit for several moments, soaking in the fullness of each scene. You are caught up in each one. Allow the Lord to embrace you in the reality.
Photo by Manuel Rheinschmidt on Unsplash