“The more we celebrate and embrace this multi-faceted view of salvation, the more glorious Christ will be in our hearts and in our lives.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 26, 2022
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2:13-15, ESV
“Jesus paid it all.” So begins the popular 19th-century hymn by Elvina Hall. Regardless of your Christian background or tradition, chances are you’ve heard this song in one form or another. With its singable melody and simple lyrics, it enters the heart easily and stays there, moving one deeper in devotion to the Lord and affection for his ways. And yet, as is often the case with songs, we can sing them without ever truly pausing to reflect upon the words coming out of our mouths!
A phrase like “Jesus paid it all” begs additional questions: What did Jesus pay, and to whom did he pay it? Is the creator of heaven and earth in debt to someone or something? Is there a power above him that must be appeased in order for us to be free? Similarly, when we sing “all to Him I owe,” what, in fact, is it that we owe to him?
When asking such questions, it is important to remember that each and every image or picture of our reconciliation to God is incomplete, for we are frail and limited creatures trying to give voice to that which is inexpressible, a mystery beyond all comprehension. As such, and this is key, we must look at our sin and the sacrifice of Christ through multiple lenses, and this is where St. Paul’s words in Colossians 2 are profoundly helpful to us.
Here we see Paul prayerfully reflecting upon the power of Christ’s death and resurrection and its impact upon us and the world. Yes, there is legal language here, with Christ “canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.” And yet, dear friends, notice that this is not the only image given to us. In the same breath, we are also seen as those who are dead, now “made alive together” with Christ. And again, he closes this short reflection by meditating upon Christ’s victory over sin, like a triumphant warrior who has vanquished his foe!
As an aside, it is worth noting that the aforementioned hymn, though bearing the name of a single lens of salvation, in fact contains this same Pauline vision. Quoting our Lord’s words in the Garden, Hall opens her hymn by speaking of sin as a sickness that leaves us weak and lacking strength, needing to look to Christ as our healer that we may once again find in him “thine all in all.” We are, she reminds us, not only transgressors of a law, but we are covered in “leper’s spots” in need of the healing touch of Christ.
The more we celebrate and embrace this multi-faceted view of salvation, the more glorious Christ will be in our hearts and in our lives.
Jesus paid it all, yes, and amen. Yet he is also the conquering king and healer of our souls and bodies. Embrace these truths and discover afresh the great depths and wonder of his love for you and the world he has made.
Father, thank you for your incredible love for us, shown in countless ways through the death and resurrection of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Is your view of salvation one-dimensional? How can you embrace more fully the biblical vision of salvation as recorded in Colossians 2?
Kim Walker-Smith: Jesus Paid it All
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