Summary: Part of a series in Colossians, working through one of the best descriptions of Jesus in the Bible.
Would the real Jesus please stand up!
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni.
September 23, 2007
Col 1:15 He 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. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Col 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
If you say the name “Jesus”, in a conversation,
you might be surprised by the reaction you get.
Here in church we have a fairly consensual agreement as to who Jesus is, but when you talk about him in the rest of the world we live in, you can come across all kinds of different ideas about who Jesus is or was.
Here are just a few of the possible “Jesus’” you may encounter:
1. “Fictitious Jesus”
- Jesus was a figment of someone’s imagination
- not a popular sentiment anymore,
since Jesus as an historical figure is very well documented
- mostly Christian sources, but also Jewish and Roman sources
2. “Historical Jesus”
- man in history, but certainly not the divine Saviour of the Christian Church
- “Jesus Seminar” attempts to render Jesus into what can be proven historical or explained scientifically
- miracles discounted or explained away, teaching edited
-what they end up teaching is that Jesus was
“an important historical figure”
- teacher, leader, self-aware – many admirable things,
and some not so admirable, such as cult leader, renegade
3. “Ultimate Man Jesus”
- most self-accomplished man, but only a man
- we too can become like Jesus if we focus our efforts on self-awareness
4. “Phantom Jesus”
- Jesus came as the gospels said, but he didn’t really become a man,
he just looked like one!
- based on belief that matter was evil,
and since Jesus was evil in no way, he could not be physical matter
5. “Prosperous Jesus”
- Jesus came to make you healthy, rich, care-free, physically fit, whatever you want, you get from Jesus if you have enough faith,
(and if aren’t all these things, it’s your fault for lack of faith, not his!)
Confusing, eh?! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
It’s no wonder that even those who call themselves followers of Christ don’t always understand who it is that they are following!
The apostle Paul was writing to a church that was very confused about who Jesus was.
They had bought into the original gospel message of Christ come, Christ died and Christ resurrected, but they had allowed some untruths to creep into their new-born knowledge of the Saviour.
Paul’s going to address those specific concerns soon in the letter,
but he starts by laying the foundation for understanding who the real Jesus is.
This passage is one of the best descriptions we find of Jesus in the New Testament - each clause tells more of his nature, character or mission. There’s a lot here, and I’m going to work through it clause by clause.
Vss. 15-20 Who he is
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
image – what can be seen,
invisible God – who has not been seen by man
put two together – the visible representation of what man has longed to see – his God!
- when you see Jesus, you are seeing God
- firstborn – not just reference to birth order, but to position of authority
- the first born was the one to whom authority was given in the family
- Jesus is over all creation – not a part of it but over it, just as we are over what we have made…