Summary: If Jesus Christ is who Paul says He is, the Jesus deserves our submission and allegiance all the days of our life.
Apprehending the Exalted Christ
One time at church camp, a Bible teacher decided to give the grade school aged campers who were in attendance the opportunity to ask him any question about Jesus that they had. Nobody had any idea what kind of questions he might get. But the hope was that the questions would be serious and thoughtful. You can imagine their disappointment when the first and only question submitted was “If Jesus returned to earth tonight, would He be able to fly a jet airplane?” The Bible teacher became upset with what he thought was a frivolous question. But he later found out it was an honest concern.
The problem this young boy was struggling with is one many of us may struggle with as well. How does the exalted Christ who has been living in the perfection of heaven for two thousand years at the right hand of God the Father relate to our modern world? What does the exalted Christ know about the problems of modern life? What could Jesus possibly know about stagflation, nuclear proliferation, stock market crashes and the H1N1 Pandemic? After all, these are 21st century issues. Nobody knew about such things when Jesus walked the earth. Can Jesus still be relevant to us today when our world is so different in so many ways from first century Palestine?
We need to understand that these are not new questions. Every generation has voiced concerns about the relevance of Jesus Christ to their culture, their generation and their problems. This was part of what Paul was facing in dealing with the false teachings that had infected the Colossian church. Because the Greco-Roman world that the Colossian church was part of generally believed in many gods each uniquely controlling some aspect of life it was hard for them to think of Jesus as a replacement for all the gods they had believed in before. These false teachers taught that powerful spiritual beings existed in the heavenly realm between God and Jesus that had to be overcome through special knowledge in order to receive full salvation.
The Apostle Paul used an interesting approach to counteract this false teaching. Many Bible scholars believe Paul used a song, a traditional first century hymn, in order to expose these false teachings as unorthodox and therefore untrue.
** Read Col 1:15-20 **
What did this early hymn that also served as a statement of faith teach about who Jesus Christ truly is that convinced the Colossian Christians to reject the false teachings that were becoming so popular? In Col 1:15-17 we find two special claims concerning Jesus Christ:
1. Jesus is Lord over all creation. Paul reminded the Colossian Christians that this hymn they faithfully sang as part of their worship accurately taught the unique position of Jesus in the world. V15 give Jesus two majestic titles:
a. Jesus is the IMAGE of the invisible God. Jesus Christ is the only authentic reproduction of the one true God. As the image of God Jesus Christ becomes 1) the authentic revelation of God, 2) God’s agent in creation and redemption as well as 3) the revealer of the power and majesty of the one true God.
b. Jesus is the first-born of all creation. The term “first-born” was used in Paul’s time to describe the first child born into a family. The Jews gave the first-born son a special place of honor in the family with special privileges. By referring to Jesus as the first-born of all creation Jesus is placed in the unique position as the means to creation. Jesus is not part of the created order. He is the divine Creator.
Because Jesus is Lord over all creation, He is superior to any other created being. All things were created in Him, through Him and for Him. Jesus is the Lord of the entire universe. There is nothing in the created order that is not subordinate to Him. And as the image of the invisible God, Jesus becomes the agent of creation totally equal with God the Father with all the divine power and authority needed to provide for our salvation. We are freed from any bondage to idols, mysteries and magic because Jesus is Lord of all.
In recognition of the Lordship of Jesus over all creation, let us sing Hymn # 296, Jesus is Lord of All. At this time we will begin our observance of the Lord’s Supper partaking in the bread which reminds us of the sacrifice of Jesus’ physical body and His lordship over all creation.
2. Jesus is Lord over the church. In v18 Jesus is described as the head, the beginning and the first-born from the dead in relation to the church.
a. As the head, Jesus is in total control of the church. He is the source of the church’s life. Jesus not only gives life to the church, He also accomplishes His will through the church by instructing the various parts of the body in accordance with His will. The church does not exist to do as it pleases. The church exists to fulfill the eternal purposes of its head, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are His hands and feet carrying out His will for His glory.