You know what’s not my favorite part of a movie? The credits. Studios will sometimes put effort into getting people to stick around for them by interspersing bloopers, running bonus footage, featuring a great pop song, or even placing trailers of coming attractions afterward. But mostly they just run them as quickly as possible across a black background; fulfilling their legal obligations while embracing the fact that no one cares that it took hundreds of highly skilled craftsmen working thousands of hours to make this magic happen. Viewers may pause to acknowledge the handful of star-power names at the top, usually A-list actors and directors, then resume kicking their empty popcorn buckets down the aisle and out the exit before the “best boy grip” has his time to shine.
I used to have a similar contempt for lists of names in the Bible, too. I’m pretty sure I grew up thinking the genealogy in Matthew was just in there to ensure the Christmas Eve service wasn’t too much fun. Then my friend Jason decided to do his doctoral dissertation on it, and his work opened my eyes to the depth of inspiration in every word of Scripture. I couldn’t believe how much significance there was in even just the structure of those kinds of passages. I won’t say 1 Chronicles is now my favorite book of the Bible, but I definitely don’t breeze past Biblical begats, greetings, and cast lists like I once did.
This weekend, as we conclude our series on “Colossians: The True Humanism” by preaching the “ending credits,” I hope you’ll be open to receiving the gospel gifts that this passage has in store for us. Trust with me that God dignifies every human as a divine image bearer in every instance one is mentioned. (That alone is good news for us!) Behind every name listed in this passage is a story; a heart; a collection of relationships that help to explain a mystery: Why, in the very last verse of Colossians, does Paul tell a group of people he’s never met that what he wants them to remember him by are his chains?