Summary: Is Jesus just a baby in a manger scene that’s taken out once a year? Is He there to give you health, wealth and prosperity? Is He some type of fire insurance? This passage answers those questions about who Jesus really is.
1. Jesus’ relationship to His creation (15-17)
2. Jesus’ relationship to His church (18-19)
3. Jesus’ relationship to His children (20-23)
I’m sure many of us have heard the story about the little girl who was coloring a picture in her Sunday School class. It was a pretty picture, but the teacher couldn’t quite figure out what it was going to be. So she asked her. The little girl was so into her work of art that she didn’t even look up from her paper. Without even looking up, she told the teacher, I’m coloring a picture of God. Well, the teacher didn’t quite know what to do. She knew how involved the girl was in her artwork. But she knew she needed to correct her theology as well. So she told her—“sweetheart, you can’t really draw a picture of God, because nobody really knows what He looks like.” The little girl still didn’t look up from her paper when she said, “Well, they will when I get done.” How many times do we do that? How many times do we paint a picture of God based on what we think He ought to look like rather than what He is really like? How many times do we make Jesus out to be something that He really isn’t? There are millions of people throughout our nation who will tell you they love Jesus. They’ll tell you they love Jesus, but have no idea who He really is. Most of the time when I am talking to someone about their relationship with the Lord, I ask them a simple question. I ask them, “Who is Jesus to you?” You would be amazed at some of the responses I get. Some people think he was a great teacher. Some think he was a prophet. Some think he was a good example for us to follow. But most people don’t even answer the question. Most people start to act like they’re running for political office and deflect. They’ll talk about what a good person they are. Or they’ll tell you what church they’re a member of or when they were baptized. They’ll talk about all their good deeds or their charity work. A lot of times they’ll start to tell you about how much better they are than all those church people they know. It’s about that time when I feel like acting like a judge in the courtroom. I feel like saying, “Objection—just answer the question.” Who is Jesus to you? In our passage this morning, Paul answers that question for the church at Colosse. One of Paul’s disciples, Epaphras probably planted the Colossian church while Paul was at Ephesus. Epaphras was saved in Ephesus and immediately went to Colosse and planted the church there. The church there did very well. And you know what happens when a church does very well, don’t you? Satan attacks it. It turns out that he attacked the Colossian church by bringing in some false teachings about Jesus. It was so bad that Epaphras went to Paul while he was in prison in Rome for help. Paul wrote this letter to them to remind them of who Jesus is. That’s what I want this morning to be about. I want us to be reminded of who Jesus is. We’ve just heard a wonderful cantata that told of who He is in His incarnation. Now we’re going to see who He is in His relationships. First, who is Jesus in His relationship to His creation? Look with me in verses 15-17:
First, we need to clear up a little language here. It’s interesting that Paul wrote this to warn the church about false teachings about Jesus. It’s interesting, because we have false teachers today who use this very verse to support their false teaching about Jesus. Jehovah’s Witnesses misuse this verse and make it say what it doesn’t say in order to support their false doctrine that Jesus isn’t God. Their use of verse 15 is wrong. Here’s what the verse means. It means that just as the invisible Father is God, so is the Son who came to the earth in visible flesh. It’s as simple as that. Jesus is God. He is Immanuel—God with us. God in the flesh. God incarnate. The word that is translated “image” in verse 15 is the word that was used to describe an engraving tool or a stamp. In other words, Jesus is the exact representation—the exact likeness of God. Is it something we can ever completely understand? No. If we could, then we would be saying that our little brains are big enough to contain the thoughts of God Himself. And let me tell you something. No matter how smart you think you are—Scripture says that your thoughts are not His thoughts. Your ways are not His ways. You will never completely figure God out. The day you think you have is the day you need to fall on your knees in repentance. Jesus is the exact representation of God because He is God. Verse 15 also says He is the firstborn of every creature. Those same false teachers of our day say that proves that Jesus was created. They say that because they don’t know their Scriptures. Firstborn can mean one of two things. It can mean born first chronologically. Like Kyla. Kyla is my firstborn child because she was born before Katelyn or CJ. Of course, that is not the sense that it is used here. Even though Jesus was born of a virgin, that’s not where He began. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:14 goes on to say, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Jesus was not first born in the chronological sense. He couldn’t be because He is without beginning or end. As God, He is eternal. But Jesus was first born in the other sense of the word. He is first born according to His position. He is first born according to His rank. He is above all of creation. Because of His first born position, He has all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of His Father. To say that Jesus is the firstborn of every creature carries the exact same meaning as when Scripture tells us that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father. He occupies the position of the utmost prominence. And as God of very God, verse 16 tells us that Jesus created all things. When you read the creation account in Genesis 1, Jesus was with God and Jesus was God as God created the heavens and the earth. Nothing exists that Jesus didn’t create. And nothing continues to exist that Jesus doesn’t sustain. In the April 8, 1966 edition of Time Magazine, the cover was completely black. Three words stood out in bold red letters. They asked the question, “Is God Dead?” Well, here’s the answer—No. God is not dead, Jesus is not dead. Here’s the irony of it all. The only reason that magazine cover was able to exist in the first place was because Jesus is alive. The only reason that the atheist is able to say, “Jesus never existed.” Is because Jesus is alive. Verse 17 tells us that by Jesus, all things consist. If Jesus was to remove His sustaining hand from creation for one moment in time, everything would cease to exist. His relationship to His creation is as our creator and as our sustainer. But Jesus not only has a relationship with His creation, He has a relationship with His church. Who is Jesus in His relationship to His church? Look with me in verses 18-19: