- 25 July 2022
- Stuart Robinson
I want to put a question to you.
It is this: How do you see or perceive Jesus?
Before you form an answer, please listen again as I read this central portion of Colossians 1 verse 15-22.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 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. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 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.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.
The question again: How do you see or perceive Jesus?
As you form a response in the quite of your own heart, let me rehearse an increasingly common answer to that question.
In his recent book, Beyond Belief, Dr Hugh Mackay refers to a group of people known as ‘SBNR’ ‘s – spiritual but not religious.
Generally, SBNR’s have a high regardfor Jesus in terms of his moral teaching, his treatment of women, and his deep concern for the dispossessed and marginalised.
And perhaps you may find yourself aligned in your thinking about Jesus, with SBNR’s.
That said, SBNR’s might find what we are about to consider next slightly unnerving or possibly unpalatable – because this information will not allow us to accept that Jesus was simply a great moral teacher with a heart for the downtrodden – though that he was.
Here are 6 propositions that Paul, writing to a small-ish group of Christians in the community of Colossae (in modern Turkey)ruled unequivocally by the great Roman Empire, in the middle of the first century, advances:
- Jesus – is the central or preeminent figure in all of creation – the meaning of ‘firstborn’ in this context.
That is, Jesus is superior or first in rank within and without the created order – v. 15.
There are around 100 billion stars in the galaxy (give or take a million).
There are 3.5 trillion fish in the sea.
There are around 107 billion people who have lived on this earth.
And the preeminent and central figure in it all – without exception, says this text, is Jesus, the Son of God.
He is the centrepiece – first in rank and order – verse 15 ‘The Son is…the firstborn over all creation’.
- Jesus – is in fact the image of the invisible God.
Q: What is God like?
A: Look to Jesus.
This illustration may help: You may not be able see a lighthouse in the dark of night but you know it is there because of the brilliant light that shines from it, right?
Jesus is the ‘light’ that shines from God the Father, as it were (John 8:12).
God reveals himself through Jesus – in whom – v.19 all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
So, Colossians 1:15 proposes therefore that the Son is image of the invisible God.
What is God like?
Look to Jesus for that answer.
- That is why St. Paul then states that this Jesus – in whom God’s power, authority, character, and personality fully dwells,is the architect or ‘author’ of life – all life, and that he is the instrument by which all secular and spiritual powers are appointed – v.16.
- Yes – nothing that exists, can exist without him, who himself existed before all things v.17). And this is truly outrageous if it isn’t true– all things were created by him and for him (verse 16)
All that is, is his.
He is Lord of all.
What is the life force of universe?
Well, this text says it is not a ‘what’, but a ‘who’ or a ‘whom’.
The Lord Jesus.
Just press the pause for moment: When these words were first read, they must have sent shockwaves throughout the community.
Because the one sovereign authority at that time was Rome – and her emperors had ‘god-like’ status.
But without Jesus – argues Paul – such secular powers – could not even exist.
And Jesus’ power and authority over all things is illustrated by what now follows:
- Though the Romans sought to destroy Jesus – through a cruel death by crucifixion – Jesus rose from death v.18 – he is ‘first-born’, or first in order of rank of those who rose from death.
And in that death and resurrection, Jesus made peace – between us and God, v.20.
- Sin – which begins with a mind that is hostile to God’s rule v.21, keeps us from knowing and enjoying God; we were all estranged from God (v.21).
So, God in Christ – the one in whom all the fullness of God dwells, the Lord Jesus – sheds his blood for us (v.20).
He embraces our failures and short comings and lays on us his holiness, his blamelessness, his irreproachability (his flawlessness) – v. 22.
So not only is Jesus Lord of the Universe, but he is also, by virtue of his death and resurrection, Lord of the church (verse 18) .
So no, Jesus was not simply a great moral teacher with a heart for the downtrodden.
He is Lord.
And God’s expectation is that people who hear this good news (‘gospel’ is the word used in v.5) – will believe it and trust it (verse 4) and live in the light of it (verse 6).
We are to live for him who rescued and redeemed us (verses 13 and 14).
And having done that – having placed our life in the hands of him who reigns supreme over all – we can have confidence that:
- the oppressive Roman Empire (back in C1)
- that metastasizing malignancy
- that unjust war in Eastern Europe
- that cruel boss
- that lingering depression
- that unfaithful friend
- that debilitating virus
will not, and cannot thwart God’s purposes for us now, or corrupt the eternity that he has prepared for us.
Do you believe that?
My question again.
So how do you see or perceive the Lord Jesus?