Summary: From Colossians 1:15-20, this sermon examines the Christ of Christmas as the Preeminent Lord.
Who is the Christ of Christmas?
The Preeminent Lord
Today we are going to begin a sermon series from three of the four great Christological passages of the NT. In this series, it is our objective to answer the following question: who is the Christ of Christmas? With the Christmas season approaching, this is an important question. As Christians, we need to know who Christ is.
Jesus Himself posed this question to his disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” and “who do you say that I am?” Evidently, this question is an important one that needs to be asked today: who is the Christ of Christmas?
• Peter A. Brien, Professor of English at Dartmouth and translator of “The Last Temptation of Christ”:
I don’t think we know who Jesus was. The Gospels, which were written for political purposes--to convert people--are written after the fact. Mary? Well, obviously he had a mother, so it had to be somebody--her name doesn’t matter. What difference does it make? The Gospel writers were novelists, writing a story about a child who really was born, but, more important, a story with a message worth hearing. I realize much of what we know about Jesus is novelistic. But I act as if it isn’t.
• John Murray, President of American Atheists:
There was no such person in the history of the world as Jesus Christ. There was no historical, living, breathing, human being by that name. Ever. The Bible is a fictional, non-historical narrative. The myth is good for business.
• Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet and Unitarian:
Jesus was a spiritualist, one deeply in touch with his “over soul.” He thought Jesus divine precisely to the extent that we are divine. The difference being: Jesus recognized it, and most of the rest of us don’t.
Others view Jesus as a great teacher or prophet or sage (such as Socrates). So the question remains, who is the Christ of Christmas? Who is that babe in the manger?
I am afraid that few believers move beyond the nativity scene image of Jesus, i.e., the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. I pray that thru this series of sermons, we will move beyond the mere image of a nursing Child in Bethlehem and truly begin to understand who the Christ of Christmas is.
For our investigation, I have selected 3 of the 4 texts that define most clearly who Christ is. The fourth great Christological passage, John 1:1-14 which we covered in our John series, informs us that Christ is the Incarnate Word, the eternal God made flesh. This week, we will examine Col 1.15-20, where we discover that the Christ of Christmas is the Preeminent Lord.
- Colossian Church in grave danger of turning from Christianity
- Heresy crept into the church concerning the person of Christ (who He is).
- Heretics denied both the full humanity and deity of Christ.
- Paul’s purpose: Defend Christ (most christological book of NT)
- Central theme: The Preeminence of the Person and Work of Christ (who He is and what He has done)
- Paul begins by offering his traditional prayer / opening encouragements & then immediately turns to the Person of Christ
Here Paul teaches us who Jesus Christ is. Specifically that He is the Preeminent Lord of Creation and the New Creation (creation and redemption).
What he tells us in 1.15-20 are some of the most important truths in Scripture concerning the Christ of Christmas. The apostle tells us “why” Christ is the Preeminent Lord. Let’s examine the 4 reasons Paul gives here:
I. Christ is the Preeminent Lord b/c of His relationship with the Creator (15).
In v. 15, Paul offers 2 assertions about Christ and his relationship with God:
A. “He is the image of the invisible God.”
This word “image” (eikon) is an important word that conveys 2 nuances:
An image represents and symbolizes the object pictured (photograph: not the real, just the image). This understanding is often used of an image on a coin or a reflection in a mirror. It is from where we get our word icon, referring to a statue. Jesus represents God. He is the exact symbol of God.
When the word “image” is employed in this context, it means more than just a symbol. It also means that the symbol brings with it the actual presence of the object. It is the actual revelation/manifestation of the object it represents.
In other words, Jesus brought God into the human sphere of understanding. Jesus manifested God. This same terminology is used in Heb. 1:3, where the writer states that Jesus is the “exact representation” of God and in John 1.18 where it says that Jesus came to make God known to us.