Summary: Christ Reigns as King Supreme over all creation for all creation.
There’s been a lot of talk lately over who will take control of Afghanistan once the Taliban has been driven out. Some feel that it would be best if the 87-year-old exiled king returned to the throne. Others want a power sharing government made up of the members of the Northern Alliance. Still others want the U.N. to come up with a government that will guarantee peace for all peoples of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan of course is not the only country that has had a difficult time figuring out who is in charge. Not too long ago the United States went through that struggle as it scrambled to decide who had won the presidential election. Closer to home, the Alliance party has wrestled with whether or not Stockwell Day should remain its leader.
With so much uncertainty in the world over who is in charge, this morning’s sermon text is a treat. As we celebrate Christ the King Sunday our text assures us that Christ Reigns as King Supreme 1) over all creation, and 2) for all creation.
Our text is taken from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colosse, a city in present day Turkey. Although Paul had never met these believers before, he wrote this letter as a favour to their pastor, Epaphras. It seems that Epaphras brought news to Paul that false teachers were threatening to lead his members astray. They were telling the Colossian Christians that believing in Jesus wasn’t enough for salvation. They claimed that it was also necessary to keep part of Old Testament Ceremonial law like resting on the Sabbath. These false teachers also detracted from the honour Christ deserved by urging the Colossians to worship angels.
To combat these heresies Paul made sure that the Colossians understood why Christ was all they needed for salvation. He wrote, “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15-17).
Jesus deserves our honour and praise because he not only created all things; he sustains them as well. In other words, without Jesus this world would not exist, nor could it continue to exist. Since only God has that kind of power, from these words we learn that Jesus is God. The Apostle John teaches us the same thing in the first chapter of his gospel where he calls Jesus the Word. John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1, 3).
Now that we’ve been reminded that Jesus is God we can go back to the first few verses of our text and correctly understand what Paul meant when he said, “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15). By saying that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, Paul was not implying that Jesus is a copy or a picture of God, but not the real thing. Although the Greek word translated as image has that meaning that’s not what Paul meant here. After all how can you have a picture of a God who is invisible? Therefore a better translation for the word image is revelation. Jesus is the revelation of the invisible God. That interpretation is backed by the Apostle John who wrote, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
But now what does it mean that Jesus is the firstborn over all creation (Col. 1:15)? Is Jesus, God’s Son, the first thing that the Father created? It can’t be because Paul just told us that everything in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible was created by Jesus. So what does it mean that Jesus is the firstborn over all creation? When we celebrate Christmas in a few weeks, we will be reminded that some 2,000 years ago the Son of God, who has no beginning or end, began his life as a man here on earth. Therefore by calling Jesus the firstborn over all creation Paul was simply reminding the Colossians that while Jesus was 100% God, he was also 100% human. He is the God-Man who reigns as King Supreme over all creation.
So Jesus is the God-Man who reigns as King Supreme. So what? Well for the Colossian Christians this meant that it was foolish for them to worship angels. After all, Jesus had created them and was much more powerful than they. Angels in fact worship Jesus and get upset when people try to worship them. John found that out when he bowed down to one on the island of Patmos. John records, “Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” 10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!” (Rev. 19:9, 10a)