For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken 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.
Life and death are the ultimate realities of human existence in this world. Life is a blessing and gift from God, but death removes us from this reality. The contrast is as stark as anything we can imagine. For those outside of the faith community, who may not believe in an afterlife or a spiritual world, death must seem to be not only a final endpoint but also a fearful one. To die is to lose everything. For those of us who love and follow Jesus, life and death hold different meaning. For us, it’s through death that we find life – through Jesus’ death on the cross and through our spiritual death to sin. Ultimately for people of faith, physical death will lead to eternal resurrection life. So, we don’t fear death, and we know it is not final.
Paul draws a line in these verses between the Old Testament practice of circumcision and baptism in Christ. Each ritual serves as a type of rite of passage into the family of faith, but baptism also points us to the gift of salvation we receive through Jesus, celebrating our victory over death and the assurance of eternal life. We pass under the waters of baptism as though we had died and been buried with Christ, and then we rise from the waters to show that in Jesus we have received resurrection life. In the same way, we declare that we have died to sin so that we can live anew by God’s grace. We embrace these images of spiritual death because we know they point us to the wonderful blessing of new life. At the heart of our understanding of life and death is Jesus and the cross. He chose death, nailing the debt of our sin to the cross where He paid its price to set us free. Jesus died so we could live, and then He rose again to give us the assurance that we will live forever.
Paul says that in Christ we “have been brought to fullness.” We have received full, real, eternal, meaningful life. We enjoy the fullness of a loving relationship with God that will never end. And so, we rejoice and give thanks. We praise God for his grace, and we celebrate the life-giving death and resurrection of our Lord.
Jesus, You died so I could live. Thank You for showing me love beyond what I can fully understand or could ever repay. I live by Your grace, and I rejoice in the promise that I will live forever with You. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian