The following is based on a morning devotion given by Christoph Blumhardt (1842-1919) on Easter Day April 2, 1899, published in Blumhardt: Eine Auswahl aus seinen Predigten, vol. 3, edited by R. Lejeune (Zürich & Leipzig: Rotapfel Verlag, 1928.). English translation abridged and adapted by Charles E. Moore. Published with kind permission from the Plough Publishing House.
He is Lord and Savior Over All
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes:
Christ 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)
Here we sense something of the greatness of Christ. He was before all things, all things were made through him, and all things were created for him. Through Jesus, this Lord, this man, this image of God, God himself looks upon heaven and earth and reconciles everything.
So this is Jesus—the man of heaven and earth! In this man, and ultimately in humanity itself, we will be allowed to see perfection. However corrupt, humanity still contains the spark of life that he will use to bring his new creation to light. And as Paul writes, God has qualified us to share as heirs in this kingdom of light, and has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and set us in the kingdom of the Son he loves. (Colossians 1:12-13).
If we stop to consider who this Jesus is and what is to happen through him, then we cannot help but be thankful. Everything is God’s and it must all become like Jesus. He is, he was, and all life must be as the life of our king.
Only when we experience the rulership of God’s Son—only when we hear God whisper, “You belong to me”—can life’s riddles be solved. Where this has not occurred everything remains in a fog. For darkness consists in not knowing what one is, in not knowing how to come to terms with oneself, with heaven and earth, with everything we see and feel, and with what our inner selves sense.
Goethe, on his deathbed, cried, “Light! Light!” He sensed the approach of night in which we see no more. It is just the same before one dies: one sees nothing. Millions of people see neither earth nor heaven. They live like animals and lack even a faint idea of the true meaning of life. They have no sense of the relationship of human life to the rest of creation; it simply baffles them. Even though we have a great deal of scientific knowledge, life remains a mystery. People study life’s questions ad nauseam: What is this world? What is life all about? Who are we? What are our origins? What is our final destiny? The search for answers seems futile. Everything is shrouded in riddles.
Just now, when we have perhaps reached the height of human achievement, when people seem to recklessly strive for more and more, we fail to reach life’s highest goals. Work gives people temporary release from the nagging questions of life. New inventions are discovered and people have a degree of happiness. But we must admit, if we are honest, that none of this has led us to enlightenment, to fulfillment. In all that we possess and do today, what does it really matter? What this last century has brought us has only been certain practical advantages for life. But how has this really helped us? We still complain; we’re still not satisfied. Inwardly we feel oppressed, empty. Even with all the riches and pleasures offered us, we are burdened and wretched, and hanker for something more.
The fact that we are not satisfied, however, is a sure indication that we sense something of Christ’s victory, albeit only vaguely. People want something different. They don’t know what, but they sense something is missing. This is because they can only be at peace when they experience Jesus as the Lord of creation; when they realize that they are actually God’s children. For Christ is the center of creation itself. He is one with everything that lives and moves. As long as we feel separate, divided from heaven, from earth, and from God’s life in the world—as long as we are conscious of this—we shall remain unhappy.
Why are we unable to show the world, which always clamors for more, the real causes of its discontent and the real reason for living. People think they need more money, but that’s not it. Or they think they need more self-worth.
That isn’t it either. Too many people let circumstances determine their lives, and so fail to find lasting happiness. What people lack is knowledge of the God who can liberate them from their fate—from those daily events that rule their lives.
But our destiny is to rule with Christ, the cosmic king. We are here on earth for God’s purpose. Fatalism or stoicism cannot make us happy, nor can we meditate ourselves into some kind of detached joy in suffering. Neither can we simply accustom ourselves to life’s afflictions. We are not created for sorrow but for joy. We can rise above life’s pain, knowing that all suffering has an end. For Christ holds all things together, and this enables us to bear any thing. Any struggle and temptation is bearable where Christ’s victory shines ahead.
All that happens, good or bad, contains traces of Christ. Instead of resignation, instead of worry, we can always hope that things will change. Even if I have to go through death and hell myself, it will change. For the purpose of life is Christ. “Behold, all things shall be changed. I make all things new!” (Revelation 21:5). God promises the re-creation of heaven and earth—the translation of the whole world into the light of the Savior. This is our heart’s deepest longing. The great thing is that Christ reconciles the cosmos. He is the ruler over all; and light from heaven will fill the entire universe.
There are thus not two worlds, one in God’s hands and the other one not. There are not two species of people either, one totally under God’s rule and the other completely outside of it. No devil can do what he wants, no wicked power or principality can act on its own. Even the Evil One is in darkness because of God’s will. There he lives his own kind of life, one that is contagious and deadly to those who are attracted by it, yet the entire realm of sin and death remains in God’s domain, firmly held in his hands. Let us carry this knowledge in our hearts as a witness. We can proclaim to every devil, to every demonic stronghold, “You are under God. No one can make a single move without God. We are all under God!” Unless we grasp this, we will never understand why Christ came into the world. Even if you should meet someone who is a devil, know that, ultimately, he is God’s. No other power, no ruler, no one, in heaven or on the earth or under the earth, can move a finger without God’s love. “Christ is head over every power and authority” (Colossians 2:10). He is Lord over all that lives. Even if a torrent of unbelief suddenly seized the world, in total rebellion against God, as powerful as that current might be it is in God’s hands. For the victory has been won. “It is finished.” We need never fear the devil, for there is no other master than Jesus. Not even in the deepest depths or blackest night can one escape from yielding to him. There is but one Lord, one God, one Father of all, “who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6). Nothing else has any right or any claim for itself. No hell, no death, no devil can make any claim. All things are God’s because Christ is all, and is in all (Colossians 3:11).
If we should suffer for him, we shall also rule with him. He has been given all authority. Even today Christ suffers, but we rejoice and are glad, for we, who stake our lives on the suffering Savior, shall rule. Not as the world does, in arrogance and fear, but in the way Jesus rules. We will rule in the love of the Father. We will say, “In the name of Jesus, I say to you, darkness, you must be destroyed. You serpent, you Prince of Death, you must perish. You are nothing to us.” We can live in this expectation because God holds everything in his hands.
Again, there are not two kingdoms, a kingdom of darkness and a kingdom of God. There is but one dominion, and it is God’s. And although there is in this kingdom some who are bound by sin, it is nevertheless one kingdom.
There may be two rooms in a house, but it is one house, not two. All things are under God’s command. And in the house of God, we may rule even in the darkness, in sin, in death. We need not grow weak, nor think that we cannot carry on. We can always go forward.
Let this live in your hearts. Let there be no room for grumbling about the world’s situation. Those who grumble are not living in the victory of God. We cannot condemn the godless, the unbelievers. That is not our business. Don’t even think of people as unbelieving—they are not unbelieving, but torment ed. They cannot open their eyes, they are drunk with their misery, saturated with distress, and can’t see the stars for the roof. Our task is to witness to the truth that God is God and none other, and that he offers hope to everyone.
This does not mean that God will not or cannot judge sin and evil, but this is determined in the final hour and is God’s concern alone. Until God has come to that decision, it is in our hands to make known the name of Jesus to any and everyone. If Jesus is to be truly victorious, then our task must be to live in compassion, and to bring all people the possibility of redemption.
Whoever comes to you, wherever you may be, you shall say to him: “You will be saved, for you belong to Jesus. He represents God’s will that no one be lost, but that everyone repent and live.” Of course, not everyone grasps this, nor is it necessary. I don’t even think everyone needs to be “converted” to our Christianity. The millions must, in the long run, simply be transferred to the rule of God, to the lordship of Christ. They must go in even though they yell and howl. Don’t we all at one time kick and scream? All must go in. Why? Because God has set us in the kingdom of his Son, and if this is our final domain, then we are in a fight, like Jesus, to our last breath, to our last drop of blood. And this fight is for the coming of the new heaven and new earth, where even the underworld will be brought into the hands of Christ.
If I should have to give up hope for any person, any country, any world, or any situation, then Jesus would not be the one who holds the universe together. There would still remain the burden of death, of travail, a load of night and darkness. Then Jesus would not be the light of the world, and his would not be a cosmic cross that brings everything back together. He would not be victorious. For what else could Jesus’ resurrection mean but eternal hope for all he holds together? One hears about all the millions who are eternally lost, as if this were the essence of pious talk. Why is this? Unless we believe that all that opposes God must end, that hell, death, and sin must end; unless we believe that every domain belongs to God, and unless we spread the love of God to the whole earth, then Jesus is not Lord. We will not be able to freely rejoice in our faith, nor invite others to believe themselves.
I know from personal experience of people who have been set free by my reminding them, “You belong with me, because you and I belong to God.” “Oh, no,” they reply. “I am a terrible person.” “No matter,” I say. “You belong with me.” “But you do not know the evil things I have done” they say.
“Nevertheless,” I reply, “you belong with me, and I belong with you. For we both belong to God.” This truth changes people. They receive so much encouragement just by having fellowship that there is simply no more talk of wickedness or sinfulness.
There was a kleptomaniac who came to me to be healed, who continued in this way for a long time, also after we got to know each other. In spite of this, I kept telling him, “You and I belong together. You can go on stealing as long as you like, but I will not let you go.” Lo and behold, after a time he gave up stealing and become a totally different person. How many others—proud, avaricious, jealous, quarrelsome people—have been given power to change simply because they felt, for the first time, genuine, human solidarity. How much more happens when they finally realize that they belong to Jesus. I mean truly realize, not with empty religious words. When we become truly conscious that we—and not just we but all things—belong to Christ, then sin will simply melt away.
Let us then think in cosmic terms. To Christ, heaven and earth are not big enough. We must cast off our chains, and throw off all pious hatred that denies Jesus the universe. Those who expend their energies judging and condemning have no part in Christ’s army. No, we must give our last drop of blood so that Jesus’ victorious reign comes into the world. The gospel of hell, the gospel of Satan, the gospel of lies must be trodden down, so that at last Jesus, the Living One, can redeem all creation. “The kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Christ” (Revelation 11:15).
How much longer do we have to wait until Christ freely reigns? And yet, what is time to God? It is nil, nothing. Jesus is today what he was yesterday.
Evil will capitulate before the name of Jesus. The powers of death and destruction will submit and be redeemed. Yes, demons too, whatever they may be—deceit, sickness, death, corruption, misery—are captives. They too are in misery. Therefore, Christ’s victory must be for them as well (Ephesians 4:8).
His redemption will dissolve the darkness because the light of God’s glory will fill creation—so much so that every tongue in heaven and on earth and under the earth will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). This power, which makes holy what is evil, which redeems what is lost, will finally overcome all inhuman forces, all spirits that mock God, right down into the depths of hell. The victory is ours. God will be all in all.
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