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Colossians 1:13-20 Princeton Christian Church 23 January 2021

As Paul sat down to write to the brothers and sisters in Colossae, he wanted them to be able to know that there is no other name above the name of Jesus. Paul wanted the believers to have the full knowledge of the glory and majesty of Jesus. He wanted them to know that Jesus was the Creator, Sustainer, and Hope of all life throughout the universe! Let's take a look at this section of Scripture found in Colossians 1:13-20 as we hear this powerful proclamation concerning Jesus.

Read Colossians 1:13-20

This is one of the richest sections of Scripture in the entire Bible. This passage brings to us a deeper understanding of the supremacy and glory of Jesus our Savior.

As we begin this study looking at Paul’s description of Christ, it is important that we see that there exists today a very dangerous and deadly disease running rampant in the church at large. It is the desire to adapt Scripture to “my” needs or situations. What I am talking about is this: Nominal Christians want little pieces of the Word that can help them in little pieces of their lives rather than spending the time necessary to develop the whole realm of our walk with God. Let me give you an example.

There was a man who was having trouble with his marriage. His marriage was on the skids and he had done everything he could do to get things back to normal, but he couldn't do it. A friend shared with him about the difference the Lord had made in his life so he decided to give Jesus a chance -- he figured he had nothing to lose. He learned some biblical principles about servanthood, forgiveness, love, and intimacy. He began to see things change as God worked a miracle in his wife's heart. Over the course of time, as things improved, the man began to become complacent and satisfied. It wasn't nearly as important for him to be in Sunday school every Sunday. Other things crowded out his attending worship with his family. There was a reason why this behavior began to change this man. He had gotten what he had wanted from God. You can place any situation or event of life into this scenario and get the same end result. When we look to get only as much from God as we need to "help" us out of our current situation, our walk with God will never endure.

Paul’s desire for the brothers and sisters in Colossae, and what I would desire for each of us, is that we would come to understand the supremacy of our Savior for all of life! Jesus is sufficient! Jesus is able! Jesus is Lord and King over all things in every place at all times! And we see that in Colossians 1.

Verse 15 tells us this:” He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation”. If you and I will let this one little verse sink deep into our hearts, then the rest of the picture will come into clear focus. Because it clearly informs us just how awesome and majestic, how powerful and glorious our King and Savior Jesus truly is.

When Paul says that Jesus is the "image" of God, what does he mean? Genesis says that you and I are created in the image of God. So does Paul mean that Jesus is merely one of us? Created like we are? Absolutely not!

The word Paul uses for "image" is a unique word that occurs only six times in the Greek New Testament. The word expresses two different ideas. One is "likeness" and the other is "manifestation." What Paul is trying to teach the Colossians is that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. God is invisible and therefore we can't see God, but we can see Jesus, the one who lived and moved among the masses for thirty-three years. He is the exact representation of all that God is.

We have all heard flowery sermons on love, but they will never compare to being loved. We can hear scholars proclaim the effects of compassion, but they will never compare with having someone actually showing us compassion. We can study the methods of prayer, but they will never aid our prayer life as much as hearing a prayer warrior pour his or her heart out before God. Those things – love, compassion and prayer need to have “skin on” in order to leave a more lasting impression. So Jesus, who is “God with skin on", will touch us in a deeper way than following mere standards and procedures spoken by mortal man. God, in His infinite wisdom, has given us Jesus, God with "skin on”, so that we might see and know His glory, His majesty, and His grace.

The writer of Hebrews said (1:3), “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

Jesus is the exact representation of Almighty God. If you want to know the heart of God, you have get to know the heart of Jesus. If you want to know the love of God, you have to get to know the love of Jesus. If you want to know the will of God for all of His creation then you have to get to know the will of Jesus for all of His creation. That is why God sent Jesus as Savior in human form --- so we could see Him and know Him and learn from Him.

We as people, in most situations don't do so well with the intangible. Those things that we can't see, taste, touch, or hear, create confusion or doubt or even misdirected decisions or actions. God, in His infinite wisdom has made Himself known to us through His Son so that we can tangibly come to know His deep love, compassion, and power for each of us.

Dr. Anthony Fortosis has written a powerful piece on the heart of God being made known through the life of Jesus. He writes,

"He is the King of kings, the radiance of His glory, the Lord of the spaceless, fabulous, infinite universe, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, unspeakably holy, dwelling in light, unapproachable, changeless...and yet He condescended to become enclosed in lowly human flesh, to be born a despised Judean, in a filthy stable, in the womb of a simple Israeli woman and without fanfare or pomp."

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. The exalted Son of God became the embodiment of humility and simplicity. He held all the riches of heaven, but became the poorest that the poor might become rich.

He feasted with publicans and sinners that they might not starve in their sin. He starved for 40 days in the wilderness that we might feast on the impeccable Bread of Life.

He taught us to love our enemies, to do good to those who treat us badly. He emptied Himself that we might be filled.

Mighty conquerors with vast armies and terrible weapons have sought in vain to subdue the world -- He conquered a vast kingdom with simple weapons of love.

His heart was broken that He might bind up the broken-hearted.

His body was crushed that we might be made whole. We come into the world to live; He came to die.

The purest One was called illegitimate, blasphemer, winebibber, glutton and an imposter by guilty sinners.

The Lord of lords became a lowly servant to serve the pitiful needs of mankind.

The Man of Sorrows acquainted with the depths of grief became the joy of the world.

He was rejected that we might be accepted. He was bruised that we may be healed.

He was condemned that we might be justified. He was judged that we would not be judged.

He was deserted for a time by the Father that we might find access to the Father.

He died as the innocent One so that the guilty might be declared innocent.

By grasping life we die; through death we find life. Glory to the Lamb, the Paradox of God.

(Dr. Anthony Fortosis, quoted in Prokope, November/December, 1992, Page 4)

The infinite love of God for you and for me was made known in the baby who grew to become a man; who suffered and died that we might live. Not just to live, but truly live in the knowledge of His great love and compassion for us. Jesus has come to make God known to each of us. There is no other who so fully reveals the heart of God. That is because Jesus wasn't a good man trying to do right. He was God, simply being Himself.

There were folks in Colossae, just as there are folks today – the New Agers - that believe that God is in all things, that there are little pieces of God all around us. They believe there are multiple gods.They even think we are divine as God is, because we are God. I think most of us would say to that, if we are God then we are all in big trouble. The idea that we are all gods may be a popular notion today, it may be part of the "New Age," but it is merely an old lie with a fresh coat of paint.

The last section of verse 15 is one of the most controversial phrases in our study. The phrase, "the firstborn over all creation," has and is being misused to lead people astray. When Paul writes, "Jesus is the firstborn over all of creation" he doesn't desire to imply that Jesus Himself was a created being of God. This is the teaching of the Jehovah Witnesses today that is rooted in an idea that was present in Paul's day, but it certainly wasn't the teaching of Paul.

The word Paul uses which is translated, "firstborn," is the word,"prwto,tokoj" (prototokos). The definition from the Greek dictionary is: "firstborn, existing before."

Paul uses the word to let us know that Jesus has top priority -- He is supreme over all others! There are many wonders of God's creation, but God says that every wonder and marvel that has ever been discovered is subservient to Jesus -- the Creator of everything there has ever been forever will be. God's desire is that we who have been created will be conformed to the image of His Son, the Lord of creation!

In Romans 8:29 Paul wrote, "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."

Paul never intended to give anyone the idea that Jesus is the first of all created beings. When we study the word used by Paul we see that Jesus holds preeminence, priority, rights and privileges that none of God's creation can claim. In the cultural practice of the Jews in biblical times the first born in any family held certain rights and privileges that no other child in the family could claim. To be "firstborn" was a positional blessing, a place of privilege.

God has made Jesus the preeminent, paramount, most-excellent Ruler over all of creation. There may be some great folks who have lived in years past. There may some folks of great fame even in our day, but there is nobody who even comes close to holding the position of prominence occupied by Jesus! The writer of Hebrews (1:1-2) declares that truth:

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.”

God has made Jesus the heir of all things. All things belong to Jesus. They are His. There is no decision to be made concerning who has rightful ownership because God has already settled all of that by proclaiming that it all belongs to Jesus!

There is something in that that is truly amazing. Think about this --- God has made you and me, anyone who will believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, repents of sin, and is baptized into Him becomes a co-heir with Christ! What God has given to Jesus will be given to those who place their trust in His saving work on the cross. Does that boggle your mind? Did you ever think you were that important and loved by God? Co-heirs with Christ, the Savior of the world.

Check out the following passages to see God's intention for you and for me.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Rom 8:16-17 NIV)

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:26-29 NIV)

Those will trust in Jesus are heirs of the promises of God. What implications does that have for our lives? Here are some implications which should encourage and enhance your relationship with Chris.

In Christ We Have--

A love that can never be fathomed. A life that can never die. A peace that can never be understood. A rest that can never be disturbed. A joy that can never be diminished.

A hope that can never be disappointed. A light that can never be darkened.

This brings us back to the deadly disease that is plaguing the Church today. My friend, we should never settle for less than God has intended for us.

We should never settle for a solution to some specific problem that is plaguing us. Instead, we should seek after a solid Rock, a firm Foundation, a sure Shelter! If we will desire the firm foundation of a life built upon Jesus, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all of creation, more than life itself, then when the storms of life blow and rage we will endure through His might and strength.

If today you are going through the fire, please know that Jesus is able. He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than you can ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Not simply in the midst of your turmoil, but for all of life and the life to come! Jesus is sufficient! Jesus is able! He is the exact representative of God. He is present and able to give you a firm foundation upon which you can build your life!

I hope that through looking into the Word today you have come to realize the sufficiency of Jesus Christ, the salvation of Jesus Christ, the hope that rests only in Jesus Christ. Jesus is able because He and He alone is God!

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