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Jesus nailed “the record of the debt we owed” to the cross

March 27, 2024

Daily Scripture

Colossians 2:12-17, 20-23

12 You were buried with him through baptism and raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead because of the things you had done wrong and because your body wasn’t circumcised, God made you alive with Christ and forgave all the things you had done wrong. 14 He destroyed the record of the debt we owed, with its requirements that worked against us. He canceled it by nailing it to the cross. 15 When he disarmed the rulers and authorities, he exposed them to public disgrace by leading them in a triumphal parade.
16 So don’t let anyone judge you about eating or drinking or about a festival, a new moon observance, or sabbaths. 17 These religious practices are only a shadow of what was coming—the body that cast the shadow is Christ.

20 If you died with Christ to the way the world thinks and acts, why do you submit to rules and regulations as though you were living in the world? 21 “Don’t handle!” “Don’t taste!” “Don’t touch!” 22 All these things cease to exist when they are used. Such rules are human commandments and teachings. 23 They look like they are wise with this self-made religion and their self-denial by the harsh treatment of the body, but they are no help against indulging in selfish immoral behavior.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In ancient Rome, “During a triumph, the emperor, dressed as the god Jupiter, would lead defeated captives behind him, showing them off before their execution…. because the cross was the most humiliating instrument of execution, Paul inverts the world’s wisdom here (verse 15).” * Paul said Jesus, on the cross, defeated God’s earthly enemies (people teaching that it took religious rituals to win God’s favor, or Roman persecutors) and led them in a victory parade for God’s kingdom.

  • As we try to make our lives better, sometimes our idea is, “Let’s make strict rules, for ourselves and others.” Rules and regulations, Paul said, may seem wise, but in themselves, they do not change our inner self. Have you ever tried to put yourself on a strict program (for any purpose) when you had not inwardly “bought in” to what you were doing? What were the results? Do you believe Paul (and Jesus) were right that inward change precedes lasting outward change?
  • Paul opposed “rule-makers” who said the Colossians must follow their rules, which often began with laws in the Hebrew Scriptures. “While recognizing that God inspired Old Testament precepts with true principles in mind, Paul suggests that such principles are fulfilled in Christ.” ** Christ nailed, not the laws, but our indebtedness (i.e., guilt) for not obeying all the laws to the cross. How can you point others to Jesus’ grace rather than to rules, even those you choose to follow?

Lord Jesus, Paul also wrote that “now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Thank you for triumphing over my failures and debt on your cross. Amen.

GPS Insights

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas serves in donor relations at Resurrection. She’s a Boston native and moved to Kansas City in 2020. Her husband Blake is a provisional elder in the UMC and is a Congregational Care Pastor at Resurrection Leawood. Her favorite pastimes include pottery, hiking, frisbee, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her daughter and their large orange cat, Tuna.

When I was a child, I thought Easter was the first day of Spring. In my mind, Easter Sunday marked the day the weather turns warm, I could put on my Easter sundress and sandals, the flowers bloom, the bunnies come out of hiding, and we are dethawed from our Winter blues. It happens at once when you open your eyes (or so I thought). Easter = Spring.  

And then, there was the year it snowed. My mom prepared me for it ahead of time, so it wasn’t as if I were surprised, but the disappointment radiated through my little body. I remember sulking all morning because our Easter traditions were ruined. The egg hunt would be inside, the family whiffle ball tournament was canceled and my sun dress felt very out of season. I shuffled my way into church quickly because my toes were exposed and frozen.  

I walked through the doors of our church and was met with Spring. If there weren’t windows, you’d think the sun was shining brighter than it ever had. The choir was bright with color, the stage filled with fragrant flowers, and we sang songs of pure joy. With the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, we were invited to go out and be light in the world and I felt that message click for me. I listened as the Pastor described this unbelievable occurrence of death becoming life. I never wanted to leave that joyful and warm space.  

I always hope for an Easter Sunday that physically looks like resurrection. But even without the sun and flowers, I am reminded that we bring Jesus’ light with us. Resurrection feels like hope. It is the joy we experience in knowing that God loves us unconditionally and brings light to drive out the darkness.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (p. 10437). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** Ibid., p. 10438.