Sermon for 11.20.22 “Performance review”

Last Sunday of the Church Year (Proper 29), November 20, 2022
Text: Colossians 1:13–20
Theme: Performance review
Other Lessons: Malachi 3:13–18; Psalm 46; Luke 23:27–43

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Epistle reading serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
757 Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care
Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.

If life be long, I will be glad
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad
To soar to endless day?

Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than He went through before;
He that unto God’s kingdom comes
Must enter by this door. Amen.


A. Use the search engine of your choice (depending on how much you like to
be watched!—yes, your every entry is being noted) for an image search of
“performance review worksheet.”
1. You will find multitudes of images and forms available at the click of
your mouse in any number of pages, colors, and file formats.
2. Maybe you’ve done this before because you wanted to know where your boss
was getting these little boxes he’s trying to squeeze you into.
3. Maybe you’ve done this before because you wanted to squeeze someone else
into a little box of your own making.
4. The results you found are for use in the corporate workplace, but you
could probably make up your own forms along the same lines under the
following search terms:
A. “husband review worksheet,”
B. “son-in-law review worksheet,”
C. “pastor review worksheet,”
D. “best-friend-who-betrayed-me review worksheet.”
5. You don’t have to make PDFs.
6. You’ve got those worksheets already in your head.
B. Your life in Christ is a strange one because it depends entirely on
someone other than you.
1. Everything else in life depends partly on you and partly on others in
some sort of way.
2. Your upbringing is partly your father’s and your mother’s doing and
partly your reaction to what they did or did not do.
3. Your education is partly your teachers’ doing and partly your acceptance
or ignorance or rejection of what they taught.
4. Your job is partly your boss’s like or dislike of you and your
performance, partly the likes and dislikes of the people around you on the
floor or in the office, and partly your liking or disliking the job and the
other people and the boss, among other things we could name.
C. All this mixture of someone else’s performance, laziness, knowledge, or
ignorance with your own performance, laziness, knowledge, and ignorance
make it seem as if life really does depend on you and how others feel or
think about you.
1. Therefore, if you like yourself and others like you, then you must be a
good person, worthwhile, not as bad as some others—pick your adjective or
phrase of self-approval.
A. You like yourself; therefore you often like others just like you.
2. If you don’t like yourself, even if others like you, or if your
self-loathing is combined with the loathing of others, then you must be a
bad person, pointless, useless, a cosmic mistake, worse in what you’ve done
wrong than anyone who’s ever done or said or thought the things you
have—pick your adjective or phrase of self-condemnation.
A. You certainly do not like yourself; therefore you’re less likely to like
others either.
D. But Christ and the life he gives you are made of the same stuff.
1. He does not mix his efforts with yours and wait to see how things turn
out, like a seventh grader in chemistry lab having little to no idea what
the results are going to be.
2. Christ instead makes your whole life depend wholly upon him and his
indestructible resurrection life.
3. So if you ask yourself or if someone asks you who you are, you don’t
have to indulge in pride or despair, in boasting or self-loathing.
4. If you know who Jesus is and what he’s done for you, then only will you
truly know yourself.
5. You will say that because of Jesus and what he has done and who he is
for you, you are able to say: (REPEAT AFTER ME)
A. I am delivered by Christ,
B. I am created for Christ,
C. I am at peace through his blood.
E. Your Life, your identity Are Determined by Jesus—Who He Is and What He’s
I. You are delivered by Christ.

A. Who you are in Christ is not only unlike every other kind of assessment
you or others might make of yourself.
A. It’s also not something you can take for granted, because there was a
time when you were not in Christ.
B. As Paul says elsewhere:
1. we “were by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3),
2. born in original or inherited sin, our genetic disease of opposing God
and exalting ourselves above him and everyone else.
3. It’s that realm of idolatry, rebellion, and unending miseries in this
life and the life to come that Paul designates in our text as the “domain
of darkness” (verse 13).
B. A “domain of darkness” is a place where darkness has its way.
1. The “domain of darkness” is dark because people cannot see their way to
the truth;
2. they cannot perceive what they should perceive about the Lord and about
3. They grope around, they stumble, they are the “blind leading the blind”
to destruction because they have no better advice or example to offer than
that of their own impaired stumbling.
4. Sin is dark because we live in it:
1. thoughtlessly,
2. carelessly,
3. recklessly,
4. stumbling and tumbling to our own and others’ destruction.
C. The “domain of darkness” is also dark because it is precisely where
Satan has complete and total control.
1. He relies on darkness, both the darkness of night, when sin crouches at
our door so close to us, and the darkness of the heart, where we do not
even understand the things that we do or say wrongly.
2. Satan likes darkness because it affords him room to work.
3. He can work when you don’t confess your sin.
4. He can work when you spend your time and energy hiding your sin.
5. He can work when you have no one else with you and you assume no one
sees or cares what you’re doing.
6. Darkness is his favorite place to be—especially when he’s there with you.
D. From that domain, that rule, that power, that sway Jesus has delivered
1. Jesus is the man of light, born in the light of the star of Bethlehem
and risen on the third day when the light began to spread on the earth.
2. He rules the darkness, too, but in the world to come we will not need
sun or moon to be lights in the heavens, because the brightness of Christ
will be such that he himself shall be our light.
3. He is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
E. When he claims us, whether very early in our lives or later in our
lives, he transfers us like a man moving from one country to another.
1. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to
the kingdom of his beloved Son” (verse 13).
2. In the old country, there were accustomed ways of acting and thinking
and speaking.
3. Those old, dark ways seemed natural, comfortable, easy, and familiar to
you apart from Christ.
4. But Jesus transferred you to a new country of light.
5. It may not feel:
A. natural,
B. comfortable,
C. easy,
D. or even familiar unless you have been with him a very long time.
E. That’s okay.
F. The most important thing is that he has transferred you here to light
and life in his kingdom.
F. That means you are delivered or, in other words, that you have
“redemption,” a state of freedom because someone else paid for you to get
out of slavery.
1. In Jesus, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (verse 14).
2. And what did Jesus do to redeem you?
A. He paid the debt of sin you owed so that you could have the “forgiveness
of sins,” free to you because it was so expensive to him, as expensive as
his precious blood and his divine life.
B. He paid all of that to win you back from slavery.
1. You are redeemed.
2. You are transferred.
3. You are delivered because of him!
II. You are created for Christ.
A. And why should he redeem you or any other person?
1. Was it some combination of his love for you and of the faith he figured
you’d end up having?
2. Was it some blend of his desire to save sinners and your record of
Sunday School or Lutheran school or pick-your-churchly-institution
3. Maybe it was because he is the Savior and you are such a lovable person,
so why not?
B. No, and a thousand times over, no!
1. Paul tells you that you are who you are in Christ only because he is who
he is.
2. He is not only your Redeemer extending the gift of the forgiveness of
sins to you.
3. He is also the Head of creation, its divine king, and he shall have what
is his.
A. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and
invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things
were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in
him all things hold together” (verses 15–17).
4. You and his whole creation were not made for the devil to play with, to
fiddle with in grimy darkness.
5. You were made by God for better things than sordid sins and
filthy-mindedness and the whims of your boss.
6. You were made to live under Christ’s gracious reign in his kingdom.
7. So he shall claim what is his by right.
C. Long before you ever thought or did anything, long before your parents
thought of having children, indeed from all eternity, Jesus Christ is the
image, the icon, of the invisible God.
1. You can’t see the Father’s face—no man ever has or shall—but you can see
2. You can’t know the Father’s will or heart unless you know Christ.
3. The reason Jesus is the only way of salvation is that he is the only
access we have to the eternal Father.
4. You cannot—not just that you should not or ought not or dare not—but you
cannot come to the Father except through Jesus, the eternal Son.
5. He was the instrument of creation:
A. “all things were created through him,” Paul says (verse 16).
B. So if he has made you and all others, you are his by right.
D. You see now that the redemption he won for you by shedding his blood on
the cross and by rising again on the third day from the dead is his sure
and divine claim on what is his.
1. You were not made by Satan.
2. You were not made through Satan.
3. You were certainly not created in order to be and remain Satan’s.
A. No one was.
B. No one is.
C. No one ever shall be.
D. All have been and are and always shall be Christ’s by right.
E. You were created for Christ, and he has redeemed you to be his forever.
4. In the creation of all things:
A. in the redemption of mankind,
B. in the end of all things,
C. Christ is and shall always be “preeminent,” the first, the last, the
Alpha and the Omega. “He is the head of the body, the church. He is the
beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be
preeminent” (verse 18).
III. You are at peace through Christ’s blood.

A. So you are delivered by Christ because you were created for Christ.
1. So, too, you are now at peace.
A. “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through
him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven,
making peace by the blood of his cross” (verses 19–20).
B. Maybe you have nodded along until now.
C. Maybe you were thinking that all of this sounded too good to be true and
it would be such a relief not to hang your whole life and identity on your
job performance or your pride or your self-loathing.
D. It really would be great if you could locate the worth of your life in
the worth of Christ.
B. But “at peace” with God?
1. Seriously?
2. Don’t I know about the problems you’ve got with your mother?
3. Don’t I know about the grudges you’re holding against people with people
in this church?
4. What about the things that were said to you years ago that you will
never, ever forget?
5. Don’t I know what that guy did to you?
C. Indeed, I do know to a certain extent because I deal with the very same
1. Everyone here today could know or could imagine
A. the suffering,
B. the pain,
C. the sadness,
D. the broken links of love,
E. the frayed ends of nerves that you have or that you have inflicted on
others, or (most likely) some combination of both.
F. We have all trespassed against others as they have trespassed against us.
D. Because of Jesus and his work and his ways:
1. you are not a captive,
2. you are not a slave,
3. you are not the tool or the instrument of all those trespasses, all
those sins, all those dark things.
4. You are redeemed;
5. you are delivered;
6. you have transferred out!
7. You are forgiven;
8. you are set free;
9. you are cleansed;
10. you are healed!
E. How can I say all this after all those dark things?
1. I do not say all this because I know all you’ve been through or all
you’ve done.
2. I don’t even know or remember—thanks be to God!—all I myself have been
through or all I myself have done.
3. I say all this to proclaim to you that you are redeemed and are at
peace because of Jesus’ blood!
F. This is the power of his blood:
1. it brings peace.
A. It brings peace between you and God because it cancels the gnawing,
terrifying, constant power that sin and sins have over you.
B. It cancels out the debt of offense and idolatry and rebellion you owed.
C. It propitiates God, making him favorable to you and eager to hear your
prayers and your worries, as a true Father always is.
G. The blood of Jesus also makes you at peace with others, not because
other people all change their ways.
1. Some will, but some never will.
2. You are at peace because your whole life obsession with how you’re doing
and how others are doing is washed away by the blood of Jesus.
3. Your whole life is not wrapped up in how well you’ve done or how poorly
you’ve done at this and that or the other thing, much less (how foolish!)
how others have done or how poorly they have done at this or that or the
other thing.
4. Your whole life hung entirely on the death Jesus died and now rests
entirely on the life Jesus lives.
5. You have peace with God because God has made peace with you through
6. You have peace with man because God is at peace.
7. That’s why I bless you with peace at the end of Holy Communion and at
the end of the Divine Service.
8. I’m not offering you a chance at peace.
9. I am not offering you a “pie in the sky” kind of peace1
10. I am proclaiming the peace Jesus has won for you by his blood and by
his cross and by his resurrected life.


A. Now back to doing a search on the Internet:
1. Now search for things like:
A. “Christ crucified”
B. or “the blood of Jesus”
C. or “Jesus on the cross”
D. or “Jesus crucified with the robbers.”
2. What do you see?
A. That’s the only performance review you need to spend your time fixating
3. Jesus was required to do one job with three parts to it:
A. redeem mankind from darkness and sin,
B. transfer you into his kingdom,
C. and reconcile God to mankind.
4. How did he do?
A. He did it all and did all of it perfectly as our text for today says
(Colossians 1:13–14).
B. And without our help!
5. How’s he doing now?
A. He is reigning over all things for the sake of his Body, the Church.
6. Can anything conquer him or bring him down?
A. Look at the cross.
1. He said, “It is finished.”
B. Look at the tomb.
1. It’s still empty!
C. He has done all things well.
D. Review Jesus’ job performance—it’s the only one that matters!
B. So go in peace.
1. Your God is reconciled to you.
A. You are free from sin.
2. Go in peace.
A. You are free from the darkness sin brought into your life, and you live
now in his light.
3. Go in peace.
A. You do not belong to Satan
B. or to sin
C. or to darkness
D. or to death.
E. You are alive forevermore in Christ.
4. Go in peace.
A. Your faith has saved you because you trust in Christ alone.
5. Go in peace.
A. You are at peace with all mankind because your God is at peace through
the blood of Christ.
B. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, whether you die or live
because you belong to Christ, and he is all in all, Redeemer, Creator,
Peacemaker, to whom is glory now and always.
C. Amen!
C. Let us pray:
757 Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care

Come, Lord, when grace has made me meet
Thy blessèd face to see;
For if Thy work on earth be sweet,
What will Thy glory be!

Then shall I end my sad complaints
And weary, sinful days
And join with the triumphant saints
Who sing my Savior’s praise.

My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.
Text: Public domain
• The peace of God, which transcends all human understanding, guard your
hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
• In the Name of the Father…Amen.