Summary: In this beautiful passage, God gives us six attributes of Jesus Christ: who he is and what it means for us. Jesus is not just part of our life. He IS our life!
Putting Jesus First
Colossians 1:15-20 * 7/21/19
[Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for sermon outline in Word.]
American society is moving farther away from traditional religion. For the first time ever, the “none’s”--or those expressing no particular religious belief--amount to about 30% of our population, tied with about 30% Catholic and about 30% Protestant, and about 10% of everything else. And the interesting thing to me is, even though there are more “none’s” than ever, there is also a higher number of people who identify as highly spiritual. They are spiritual, just not religious.
Now, when it comes to relationships, it’s dangerous to expect one person to meet all your needs. That’s just not going to happen. But what if all of our spiritual needs could be met in one person? Actually a God-person, Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul was writing to a young church in Colossae that had a lot of confusion over what it meant to follow God. And Paul set the record straight. He said, it’s all about Jesus. The word “Christian” means “little Christ.” If you want to be a Christian, you’re going to follow Jesus Christ. And Paul told these believers--and us today--that Jesus is pre-eminent; that is, Jesus comes first. Colossians chapter 1 mentions six specific characteristics of Christ. I’ve put them on your outline, along with an implication of each. First,
1. The image of the invisible God - I can get to know God through him.
Paul writes in verse 15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God...” The Greek word here for "image" is "icon." I was raised to think that icons were evil, that they only referred to pictures or statues that people worshipped as idols. Yet, here Jesus is called an icon. An icon is an exact replication, or a perfect copy. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.
And in verse 19, he adds, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.” Hebrews 1:3 puts it like this: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God ... has made him known.” When the disciples wanted to see the Father, Jesus answered them in John 14:9, “...Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Here’s what it all means: All the fulness of God dwells in Jesus. Paul was trying to clear up some false doctrine from a group called the “Gnostics.” They used the word “fulness” to refer to a combination of all supernatural influences. But Paul borrowed their own word to elevate Christ above all religious ideas.
As one child put it, “Jesus is God with skin on.” The implication is clear: if you want to get to know God, get to know the Jesus of scripture. Read through the gospels. You can easily read through the story of Mark’s gospel in one sitting. See what Jesus cared about, how he looked after the children, the sick, the oppressed; how he talked down to people who claimed to be religious but were really living a lie; how he consistently rooted for the underdog; how he loved everyone. When you see Jesus, you see the heart of God. Jesus is also...
2. The voice of all creation - I can trust any problem to him.
The last part of verse 15 describes Christ as “the firstborn over all creation.” The word “firstborn” here doesn’t mean that Jesus was created. No, he’s God. That was the first point. God creates, and everything else is creation. Jesus--God in the flesh--is highest over all. “Firstborn” then referred to a place of honor more than an order of birth. For instance, Jacob was given the status of “firstborn” over his older brother Esau. Here Jesus has the place of honor in all creation. Psalm 89:27 says God will appoint a Messiah his “firstborn.” That’s Jesus.
Verse 16 says, “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. The voice at creation is the voice of Jesus. As the Son of God--God in the flesh--he has always been in coexistence with God. We call his Old Testament pre-birth experiences the pre-incarnate Christ. Pretty crazy to think about, I know. But who do you think that was who walked in the coolness of the day with Adam or Eve? Who was that fourth fellow in the fiery furnace with Daniel’s three friends Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego?
Here’s the point: If Jesus is over all creation, that means nothing is too big for him to handle! Nothing. You can trust any problem to Jesus, and he can handle it. All of creation is his; he can handle your relationship problem. He knows your medical condition. He know what you’re worried about. Trust it to Jesus. And Jesus is, #3...