Colossians 1:15 – 23
“The secret to life...”
John Wesley: “Keep to your one point, Christ dying for us, and living in us...”
The world’s opinion about “god” is fairly positive. “God” is some sort of make-you-feel-good-candy-man. “God” can be shaped into anything the individual would like to imagine as true or desirable.
On the other hand, Jesus is a real problem. So much so, that CNN cut out all references to Jesus when it rebroadcast Billy Graham’s message to the nation in response to the events of September 11.
Why? Because Jesus is not a fluid concept that can be shaped and reformed for convenience. Jesus offends our desire to have a designer “god.” In Jesus there is a God with a plan, power, and purpose. There is a God who is responding to the human condition of sin and the necessity of redemption. There is a holy and just God who seeks personal relationship with unholy and corrupt people.
It is something we do not want to hear. It hurts, it burns, it insults. Jesus’ teachings force us to reconsider ourselves and our view of life and eternity. Jesus’ death had “rhyme and reason,” for our redemption. Jesus’ resurrection means He is alive, but not in some distance place.
We either ignore or give careful thought to what Jesus means. Ignorance is easier. Careful thought is potentially life-transforming.
Who is Jesus? This has been the running question of the ages. It even shows up in irreverent musicals such as “Jesus Christ Super Star,” which blasphemously asks Jesus, “who in the #$** do you think you are?”
I. Who is Jesus?
A. [v 15] “the image of the invisible God.”
1. Not an imitation or created likeness... (like a painting)
a. “Image” is a reflection.
b. “Image” is a representation of the self.
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2 Corinthians 4:4]
2. “Firstborn” (Official title, not actual birth)
a. The firstborn is the heir, had legal authority to do business in his father’s/family’s name.
b. It is an O.T. image for the Messiah:
“ZEC 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” [Zechariah 12:10]
B. [v 16] “For by him all things were created... all things were created by him and f or him.”
1. Jesus is the Creator...
a. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” [John 1:3]
b. Creator means rights of ownership.
2. Visible and invisible:
a. The physical universe.
b. The spiritual, the unseen... (including the political)
C. [v 17] “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
1. Jesus is eternal... “before all things.”
a. “Eternal” is one of those qualities of God that go beyond what the human mind can grasp.
b. NOT created (angels were created)... Jesus was before “all things” (created).
2. Jesus sustains of all things.
a. Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” used the illustration of a spider dangling over the pit of hell, sustained only by the grace of God.
b. Imagine slandering, hating, killing the one who created the world and sustains it by His will...
c. Imagine rejecting that self-sacrificing love...
D. [v 18] “He is the head of the body, the church”
1. The “head” is what controls every detail of the body...
a. The beginning of every thought or motion.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:2]
b. The “firstborn from among the dead”
2. The head has supremacy (pre-eminence).
a. Literally “holding the first place.”
b. We seldom remember (celebrate) who took second place.
PLAN: “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.” [v 20]
II. Who are we?
A. [v 21] “Alienated from God”
1. Literally “far away.” (Physically or emotionally)
a. Jesus told the story of the younger son who took what he could get and left home... unwise... sinful... The father waited.
(Sometimes God waits for us to come to our senses because even if He pursued us, we would just stomp our feet, throw a fit, and run away... again.)
b. Jesus told the story of the lost sheep. The Shepherd puts the 99 in a safe place and goes out looking for the lost sheep.
(Sometimes God pursues us as we are lost, senseless, desperately in need. He pursues us because it is not a matter of the will, it is pure ignorance that has us in danger.)
2. “Alienated” means separated/estranged
a. We feel isolated... like the phantom itch we cannot scratch.
b. We feel abandoned by the felt lack of the sympathy from God.
B. [v 21] “Enemies in your minds”
1. “God is not the enemy of His enemies.” In fact, God took extraordinary steps to reconcile us.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . . . For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” [Romans 5:8, 10]
2. It’s a one-sided hostility... we are hostile toward God. (Think of all the countries that hate America, yet we hold no ill will toward them.)
3. Fact: Our behavior is “evil.” (Especially when compared to a holy God.)
PURPOSE: “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.” [v 22]
III. What now? (Two things...)
A. [v 23a] “If you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved (lit. shifting/drifting) from the hope held out in the gospel.”
1. You are responsible for your spiritual health... “if”
2. God expects you to respond to Him in faith... to develop the disciple to be firm and not moved.
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. . . . But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” [Hebrews 10:35, 39]
B. [v 27] “... God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
1. We say we want to seek God... God says, “I’ll help you look.”
2. We realize, even our seeking God has become about us... to satisfy our longing... to obtain something we think we don’t have (but already do have).
POWER: “Christ in you, the hope of glory”