Who Is Jesus?
Text: Colossians 1: 15- 20
Proposition: As the extent of who Jesus is increases in my understanding so too the meaning of the cross and the wonder what He has done for me.
Introduction: Last week we talked about how Epaphras had travelled to Rome to find Paul and talk with him about the confusion that was growing in the church in Colossae. There was the influences of Judaism (righteousness by acts of self denial and works) and Gnosticism (the search for the secrets of the inner man as a path of access to God). Paul had written a letter in response to this and in it he prayed for four specific things: 1. That they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will; 2. That they would walk worthy of the Lord fully pleasing Him; 3. That would be strengthened with all might according to His glorious power; 4. That they too would be thankful to the Father who has qualified them to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Each of these aspects of his prayer was meant to address the deception that had begun to plague the Colossian church.
If there had been a ‘man on the street’ interview in that day asking the question, “Who is Jesus?” it would likely have been met with a variety responses, most of which would have fallen far short of the truth. It’s why Paul now writes these next words, they are a direct answer to the question of “Who is Jesus?” The scope or extent of the answer is meant to not only increase their understanding of who Jesus is but also to blow back the deception of a ‘Jesus plus’ kind of faith. ‘Jesus plus’ means I believe in Jesus but I add to that things that I think are just as important, like my worthiness comes from my actions (Judaism) or my spiritual growth comes from self discovery (Gnosticism). So who is Jesus? However great that you think Jesus is I want you to increase that as far as your imaginations will go. Are you there, are you absolutely stretched in terms of who you think Jesus is? Then let me say, He’s greater than that still. Have a look at Colossians 1:15-20.
I. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
If you were to look into a mirror and see your face would you say, “That looks a lot like me.” or would you say “That’s exactly what I look like.” It’s an exact image of what you look like. When God the Father looked into the mirror of His own self awareness the exact image that reflected back to Him was Jesus, showing the character and intellect and will and emotion of the Father as being exactly the same in the Son. That word ‘image’ is the Greek word ‘eikon’. We’ve become familiar with ‘eikons’, they are all over our computer screens, small icons that once accessed open up an enormous amount of information. Jesus is exactly what God looks like, but not in appearance because God is invisible. Arthur Peake once wrote, “God is invisible, which does not merely mean that He cannot be seen by our bodily eye, but that He is unknowable. In the exalted Christ the unknowable God becomes known.” Jesus is exactly what the unknowable God Almighty looks like. He is the image of the invisible God. Not only that He is also the firstborn over all creation. Before angels ever were, Jesus was. Before the earth was created or ever a man was born or ever there was a space or a universe, Jesus was. Firstborn does not refer to Jesus somehow being created nor to the idea that at some point Jesus had a beginning before which He didn’t exist. It refers to the idea that He is foremost, preeminent, in order higher over all creation specifically because He wasn’t created. He is the firstborn over all creation. Can you feel your imagination stretching? He’s bigger than that, watch and see.
II. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Part of what the Colossian deception was all about was the role and status of angels. Are there guardian angels, do angels rule over us, should angels be worshipped, are angels to be prayed to? Paul writes that all things that were created in heaven and on earth were created by Jesus, both the visible and the invisible. He even goes on to say that the very order or structure of relationship in the invisible realm, the thrones, dominions, authorities and powers of angelic order were also created by Jesus. In other words the highest of the arc angels Jesus created and ordained to office. To pray to an angel would be like going through the drive through at Wendy’s and asking the person at the window to raise your salary or to give you a better house or to show you who you should marry. Angels are messengers not creators. When you see the reality of who Jesus is everything else begins to take it’s place in the perspective of reality, even us, especially us. That’s why Paul says that all things were created through Him and for Him. All things are not for us, they for Him. They point to the glory of the One who caused them to be.
III. And He is before all things and in Him all things consist.
In basic physics one of the smallest building blocks of all matter is called the atom. An atom exists because it has a positive charge at its core and around it negatively charged particles called electrons are drawn. It’s the positive charge of the nucleus that pulls in electrons. The nucleus is made up of neutrons and protons, neutral particles and positively charged particles. The thing is the positive particles should be repelling each other, they aren’t attracted to the neutrons so what holds the protons together? Not only that but the closer particles get of the same charge the greater their repulsion to each other and the protons in a nucleus are very, very close together so the power holding them there must be even greater. Scientists have looked at the force that binds these protons together and they have come up with a name for it. Though they can’t explain how it works they do know what to call it, they call it “the strong force”. The very bits of creation are made by God, made through Jesus and in Him all things hold together. ‘Consist’, it’s the Greek word ‘synestemi’ and its inherent meaning is, “ to put together by way of composition or combination, to show, prove, establish, exhibit.” What’s exhibited by “the strong force”, Paul knew ever before an electron microscope was invented, “in Him all things consist.”, all things from molecules to orbits, even the spiritual.
IV. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Building on the “in Him all things consist” thought, Paul says that Jesus is the head of the body, the church. Head here refers to the source of life, the beginning point, like the head waters of a river. He’s the firstborn from the dead, the idea is not just that death is overcome but that resurrection to a new life is now in place. Jesus was the first person to be resurrected from the dead by His own power. His resurrection is the prototype and certainty of our resurrection by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me though he were dead, yet shall he live.”, was proclaiming that very truth! In the physical world and in the spiritual world Jesus is preeminent.
V. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.
It was God’s pleasure to place all the fullness of His grace, His love, His mercy, His justice, His wisdom, His holiness in Christ that He would be the both advocate and dispenser of it to the church. These dwelt in Christ, they weren’t on loan or temporarily available to Him, they were resident in Him and it brought pleasure to God the Father that it was so.
VI. And by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Let me show you how the King James puts this verse because I think they have a more accurate transliteration here: “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.” In other words, since the fullness of deity dwelt in Jesus He was able to make peace through the blood of His cross. Why blood, it’s because the blood is what holds the life. Hebrews 9:22 says that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin. It was the blood of Jesus that made peace with mankind to the Father. Jesus reconciled, paid the debt, set things right, restored relationship, between man and God the Father. “By Him” says Paul, “whether things on earth or things in heaven.” All things, mankind and the righteous angelic host will be brought to a right relationship with each other and then under the head who is Jesus Christ and then under Him to the Father.
Who is Jesus? I can say that He’s my Lord and Saviour, oh but He’s so much, much more. He’s the Great Redeemer, the Reconciler of sinful man, the Fullness of God, the Firstborn from the dead, the Great Beginning, the Head of the Church, the One by whom all things consist, Creator, through Whom and for Whom are all things. This is who Jesus is.