B.C.P. Sunday next before Advent - Col.1:13-20
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Leonardo da Vinci was a wonderful painter. One of his acclaimed masterpieces was "The Last Supper" which was painted on a convent wall. Even the cup that the Lord used was perfect, an ornate golden vessel richly set with jewels. When he had completed the picture he invited some friends to inspect it. "What a wonderful cup," they exclaimed. "How it sparkles! Such a cup was never painted before." Leonardo immediately splashed some dark colour over the glittering chalice to turn it into an ordinary, cheap, cup. He wanted the glory of Christ, and not the beauty of the cup, to be the focus of his great work. In all things Jesus must come first.
Paul shows us in this passage that Jesus must come first.
Jesus is God
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
This is not saying that Jesus is the image of God in a material way. That God is male, Jewish, with olive skin, brown eyes , and dark hair and beard.
It is saying that Jesus has the nature and being of God. He is kind, gentle, forgiving, opposed to sin, radical in how he expects his followers to live, loving and so on. He is God. And he reveals God to us. If we want to know what God is like we should look at Jesus.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
Jesus had all of the fullness of God dwelling in him, verse 19. Therefore you could not look at Jesus and say that there was an aspect of God that he did not have. All of God's fullness was in Jesus. Jesus is God.
He was also man. He appeared to be just a man, yet further investigation disproves this. He is man and God.
Calvin said, "Whatever God has, he has conferred on his Son." REPEAT.
"Firstborn over all creation" does not mean that Jesus was created. It means that he is more important than anything that was created. This is relevant to the heretical teaching the Colossians were being exposed to which involved the worship of created, spiritual beings ( 2:18 ). Perhaps Jesus was seen as one of many spiritual beings who mediated between God and man.
Jesus made and sustains everything
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
This tells us that everything, seen and unseen, material and spirit were created by him and for him. We tend to think of God the Father creating and Jesus redeeming, yet this verse tells us that Jesus is the agent of creation. Jesus made everything, and everything was made for him. Not that creation is some cosmic toy, like a bizarre train set for God to play with. It was created for Jesus because he is the one to whom the created order is moving towards. 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist/hold together.
There is a Mr Bean sketch when he goes to the Sales. He has placed a cauliflower and some balloons inside a sleeping bag at the front of the queue to fool the other people that someone is in front of them. Just before the store is due to open he turns up in his old green mini, throws the cauliflower away, pops the balloons to the surprise of an old man with a hearing aid nearby, and walks in first.
Like someone at the head of a queue Jesus is before everyone else in time. He was there first. And he is before everybody in rank.
In him all things hold together. Not only has Jesus created everything he sustains everything. If it were not for Jesus the whole created order would disappear. Right now.
He has created you and me. And he keeps us going. So there is no room for pride, only for praise and thanksgiving. This goes against the philosophy of the world which says that everyone has the power and ability to shape their own destiny.
Jesus is head of the church
Verse 18 tells us that he is the head of the body the church and that he was the firstborn from the dead. Not that he was the first to rise from the dead, but that he was the first to rise from the dead to a new exalted body, never to die again.
Not only is Jesus before all of the created order in time and seniority, he is also before the new creation, the church, in time and seniority. He is the head of the body, the church. This shows us that the church is a living organism, with its members joined to one another through Jesus. It shows us that the church is the means by which Christ ministers today. And there is an intimate union between Christ and the church, just as there is an intimate union between my brain and big toe, because I am wiggling it !
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Verse 20 shows us that only through Jesus will the created order be redeemed. It is in him that the created order will find its true meaning and fulfilment. Freed from the chains of sin that entangle it.
In Revelation 21 John has a vision of a new heaven and a new earth. This is not talking about a second heaven and earth , but a renewed heaven and earth. Freed from sin by the redemption that Jesus has secured.
To summarise this. Jesus is God. He has created and sustains everything and everyone.
This should lead us to be humble, to realise that nothing we have is from ourselves. Everything is a gift from God. This should lead us to praise, worship, adoration and commitment to God who became man in order that we may ascend to God.