Who was Jesus? (Colossians 1:13-23) Well, this question certainly remains a topic of much debate in our world today

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1 Who is Jesus? (Colossians 1:13-23) Let me start this morning by asking each of you a question Who was Jesus? Well, this question certainly remains a topic of much debate in our world today The Jews (those who hold to Judaism) believe Jesus was just a man who was wrongly identified by His disciples as the promised Messiah. The Christian Science community also believes Jesus was just a man, but a man who was in tune with what they call, divine consciousness. The Muslims too, believe Jesus was just a man, but a man chosen by God to be one of His many prophets Muhammad eventually superseding all others. The Jehovah s Witnesses believe Jesus was God s first creation and therefore inferior to Him. The Mormons believe Jesus was originally an eternal spirit being (just like us, they say), who was chosen to be Savior, because of his great intelligence. Within the realm of Christianity itself The Oneness Pentecostals believe Jehovah God of the OT, took on the form of Jesus in the NT. In their minds, the Trinity has never existed. So, as we can see, there are many, many views as to Who this Jesus really was and What He was trying to accomplish through His teachings and through his death. For over 2000 years, these questions have been the topic of much debate. In fact, many of the wrong views of Jesus held today, existed in the time of the early church. For example: Docetism (Doe-seat-ism) and Gnosticism taught that Jesus' physical body was just an illusion. Those holding to these heresies denied Jesus was fully human. Arianism taught that Jesus was just a created being and certainly not deity. Those holding to Arianism (like the JWs today) denied Jesus was fully God. 1

2 Modalism taught that Jesus was a temporary mode of existence for God. God existed sometimes as the Father, other times as the Son, and still other times as the Holy Spirit. Those holding to Modalism (like the Oneness Pentecostals today) denied what we call the Trinity. So, wrong views of who Jesus really was have existed for a long time. We encounter them now and the apostle Paul encountered them back then. In fact, this is why Paul wrote certain parts of his letter to the Colossians. He didn t want the church in Colossae to be fooled. He wanted them to understand who Jesus really was. - Turn in your Bibles this morning to Col. 1: And while you re turning there, let me just remind you of what Paul said earlier in his letter to this church in Colossae. He told them in v. 10 that he was praying that they d be increasing in the knowledge of God. You know I ve noticed over the years that many Christians want practical preaching and teaching preaching and teaching they can easily apply to their lives preaching and teaching that involve their hands and their feet and this is good! But, we as Christians should also want preaching and teaching that adjusts our thinking that adjusts our view of God and our view of Jesus Christ. I say all that to say this: These 11 verses that we re going to dig into this morning are packed full of wonderful truths about Jesus that don t directly challenge us to live differently but they do challenge us to think differently. These verses should lead us to see Jesus as more wonderful and more glorious and He should emerge in our minds as the central figure in the history of the entire Universe. And in my mind, that is where true worship comes from that is what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. 2

3 So, this morning, as we dig into this part of Paul s letter to the Colossians, let s renew our minds with the wonderful truths of Jesus, and be brought to our knees to worship Him. The first thing we should know about Jesus is that Jesus was in Existence before Creation Verse 17 tells us that Jesus is before all things. Notice it doesn t say that He was before all things, but that He is before all things. This is no accident. It is designed to show us that Jesus had no beginning. We see a similar usage in John 8:58 (KJV) 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Not I was but I am. When space, energy, matter, and even time itself were still only ideas Jesus existed. He was in existence before the creation of the entire Universe. Before Jesus was made flesh and dwelt among us (as John 1:14 says) He was (as John 1:2 says) in the beginning with God. No matter how far back we go there was never a time when Jesus was not. Though physically born in time, Jesus was in existence before time began before all things. He was more than just a good man. Jesus was unique, and we will soon find out just how unique He really was. The second thing we should know about Jesus is that Jesus was the Agent in Creation 3

4 The end of verse 16 says that all things have been created by ( or more precisely, through) Him So, not only did Jesus exist before creation, but He had a role to play in creation. - And this isn t the only place we find such claims about Jesus. John tells us in John 1:3 (KJV) 3 All things were made by ( or more precisely, through) him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. that of course includes Himself. A few verses later in... John 1:10 (KJV) John again says, the world was made by ( or more precisely, through) him But was Jesus alone in this endeavor? No. Hebrews 1:1-2 (KJV) 1 God, who at sundry times (at many different times) and in divers manners (in many different ways) spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son (Jesus), whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom ( or more precisely, through whom) also he (God the Father) made the worlds; Through Jesus, God the Father made the worlds. We also see this in 1 Corinthians 8:6 (KJV) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom ( or from whom) are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom ( or through whom) are all things, and we by him. God the Father is said here to be the source of creation (of or from whom are all things), while specifically Jesus is said to be the agent the means by which all things are created (by or through whom are all things). Once again Through Jesus, God the Father created all things. 4

5 Jesus was not created by God He created the Universe with God. He is greater and more powerful than we often give Him credit for. But if we were to stop there, our view of Jesus would be seriously lacking. The third thing we should know about Jesus is that Jesus is the Sustainer of Creation Verse 17 tells us that by him (Jesus) all things consist ( or hold together). The writer of Hebrews agrees and says in Hebrews 1:3 (KJV) that Jesus is upholding all things by the word of His power. So, what is being said here is that Jesus wasn t merely involved in starting things off in creation, only to withdraw from it, once it got going. No. Rather, Jesus continually sustains the entire Universe moment by moment. He prevents creation from disintegrating by holding it all together. He isn t only our Creator. He is also our Sustainer. In spite of what the world may be saying, the Universe is not self-sufficient. The truth is that the Universe is dependent on Jesus for its very existence. How arrogant it is, for men and women everywhere, to refuse Jesus as Savior. It is only by His power and His mercy that they even continue to breathe. And How humbling it is for us, as Christians, to realize how dependent on Him we really are. We not only need Him to save us, but We actually need Him to sustain us moment by moment. We are dependent on Jesus for our very existence. 5

6 The fourth thing we should know about Jesus is that Jesus is the Reason for Creation Verse 16 tells us that all things were created by him, and for him. This is quite a claim Paul is making. Paul isn t only saying that Jesus was the agent in creation, and sustainer of it, but that He was the reason for it. Our world has trouble with that idea that Jesus is the reason for the season. They certainly aren t going to like this statement. But the truth is that Jesus was the reason for (the purpose of) the existence of the entire Universe. Let that sink in a bit. This should certainly adjust our thinking this morning. It isn t about US folks. It is all about HIM. It isn t OUR story. It is history HIS story. The entire physical and spiritual Universe has been created for His glory, not ours. The fifth thing we should know about Jesus is that Jesus is the Firstborn of Creation Verse 15 tells us that Jesus is the firstborn of every creature. What does this mean? Well, we know it doesn t mean He was created first, since we ve already seen from verse 16 that Jesus was involved in the creation of all things. We also know it doesn t mean He was born first. This is obvious. Many people were born before Jesus was ever born in that manger in Bethlehem. So, if Jesus was not literally the first to be created OR the first to be born, then what is meant by the phrase firstborn of every creature? Well, the answer lies in what the word translated firstborn had come to mean by the time Paul had written this letter. 6

7 You see Because of the special privilege, honor, and even authority that went with being the literal firstborn, to have that birthright in Bible times the word had come to describe someone of an elevated status someone in a place of honor. We see this in Heb. 12:23, where the church is referred to as the firstborn. We also see this in Ex. 4:22, where God refers to Israel as His firstborn son. Turn with me to Romans 8:29 (KJV) 29 For whom he (God the Father) did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he (His Son Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brethren. This doesn t mean Jesus was literally born before any of His followers. In fact, that would rule out Mary His mother from becoming a child of God. But what Paul is saying is that Jesus was the firstborn (the One of highest privilege, honor, and authority) among many brethren. He is the Preeminent One. Well, in a similar way, what Paul is saying in Col. 1:15 is that Jesus is the firstborn of every creature the Preeminent One, the Supreme One over all creation. He is the One of highest rank. Jesus is absolutely central to all of creation. All of creation is His. He existed before it. He created it. He sustains it. He was the reason for it. And He is Lord over it. Praise God! You and I can have a relationship with this Jesus. 7

8 The sixth thing we should know about Jesus is that Jesus is the Firstborn from the Dead Verse 18 tells us that Jesus is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Jesus is said to be the firstborn from the dead. Here we see this term firstborn again. Does this mean Jesus was the first ever to be raised from the dead? No. Among others, Lazarus was raised from the dead before Jesus was, right? Now, there is a sense in which Jesus was the first to be raised. He was the first to be raised to die no more. This is different from the resurrection that took place with Lazarus. And this is what Paul is referring to when he writes in 1 Corinthians 15:20 (KJV) 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept ( those who ve died). You see The sacrifice for sin that was offered by Jesus on the cross has enabled us to be raised from the dead in the future where we will receive new, glorified bodies. As 1 Corinthians 15:53 says, this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. What a wonderful thing to look forward to No more struggling to get out of bed in the morning. No more sickness no more disease. No more pain no more death. Jesus has become the firstfruits of them that slept. But as we have already seen, because of the special privilege, honor, and even authority that went with being the literal firstborn, the word firstborn had come to describe someone of an elevated status someone in a place of honor. 8

9 So, even though Jesus was literally the first to be raised to die no more, the first to be raised with a new, glorified body it s more likely Paul is once again saying that Jesus is the Preeminent One, the Supreme One, above all who will be raised in the future resurrection. Jesus is central to creation (the firstborn of every creature), and Jesus is central to the future resurrection (the firstborn from the dead) so that (the end of v. 18) in all things he might have the preeminence. Paul makes it abundantly clear how important it is, that in all things, Jesus might be preeminent be exalted to the highest rank and place of honor in our minds. This is what God wants. But if this is true, then why do we so often not treat Him like we should? He is not someone to add to our lives as an insurance policy when we die. He is Jesus. He deserves to be the priority of our every breathe. My prayer is that He d be exalted in our lives today. The seventh thing we should know about Jesus is that Jesus is God in the Flesh Verse 15 tells us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. John MacArthur elaborated on this verse by saying that Jesus is the only really, true, graphic, perfect, flawless, absolutely accurate image of the invisible God. If you want to know what God is like, look at the life of Jesus in the gospels. John 1:18 (KJV) tells us that 18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he (Jesus) hath declared him ( or made Him known). 9

10 John 14:9 (KJV) 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? When we look at Jesus, we see what God is like. But Paul reveals more about Jesus than simply the fact that He is a lot like God. Paul reveals to us that Jesus is God. And as we have seen from the many views of Jesus throughout history, this idea that Jesus was actually God in the flesh had come to be questioned by many, even within the church. But here s what Paul says in verse 19 For it pleased the Father that in him (in Jesus) should all fulness dwell And in the next chapter, Paul reminds the Colossians again Col. 2:9 (KJV) For in him (in Jesus) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily You can t get much clearer than that! In Phil. 2:6, Jesus is said to have been in the form of God. In Titus 2:13, Jesus is referred to as the great God and our Savior In John 20:28, Thomas cried out to Jesus, My Lord and my God! If we still aren t convinced that Jesus was God, let s look at John 10:30-33 Jesus makes this bold statement 30 I and my Father are one. 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Wow! They certainly believed that Jesus was claiming to be God, didn t they? Over and over again, Scripture reveals to us that Jesus was fully God. But does this then mean He wasn t fully human? No. 10

11 In referring to God the Son as the Word, John clarifies this for us in his gospel John 1:1 (KJV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus was God. John 1:14 (KJV) 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us Jesus became a man. And Paul writing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV) says that there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus Jesus was certainly more than a good teacher and a great prophet. Jesus remained fully God when He became fully man. He, who existed before all creation, took on flesh for us. The eighth thing we should know about Jesus is that Jesus is Head of the Church Verse 18 tells us that Jesus is head of the body, the church Now Paul could be using the word head here to describe the authority Jesus has over the church OR He could be using the word head here to describe Jesus as the source of life for the church. - Then again, perhaps Paul has in mind both of these things. Jesus is the head He directs us and always abides with us. His resurrection life empowers us and equips us to do His will. We are His body We respond in obedience to His commands. We abide in Him for strength. We are His hands and feet in serving others. He is the head we are His body. But He is also the authority to whom we look to. Jesus is the head of the church. 11

12 Well, either way, we can see that Paul wants us to recognize how absolutely central Jesus is, to all things including His church. Jesus is in charge here at Living Water Baptist Church. The pastors are not in charge and neither are the deacons. There s only room for one C.E.O. in this church, and His name better be Jesus. The ninth thing we should know about Jesus is that Jesus is Reconciler of All Things Paul tells us in verse 20 that it was the Father s good pleasure having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him (Jesus) to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. It is an accepted fact, among most people in the world that Jesus died on a Roman cross almost 2000 years ago. Of course, not nearly as many people believe His death had any impact on God s relationship with His creation. But Paul believed the death and resurrection of Jesus had a huge impact on God s relationship with His creation. In fact, Paul claims that it was through the death of Jesus that all things would be reconciled to God (brought back to their former harmony with God). You see God s relationship with His creation hasn t been right since sin entered the world. But the death of Jesus has changed all that. 1. The cross has brought about a future restoration to creation (Rom. 8:19-21) The curse will be lifted. There will be a New Heaven and a New Earth, and 2. The cross has brought peace between God and His people. (Rom. 5:1) We, who were once enemies, are now called children of God. This is what we see Paul focusing on in verses 21 and 22 of our text 12

13 Colossians 1:21-22 (KJV) 21 And you, that were sometime ( or once) alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death Jesus is a reconciler. He not only died to restore God s creation to its former harmony with God, but He also died to restore us, God s enemies, to our former harmony with God. It s one thing to die for your friends, but quite another to die for your enemies. Jesus deserves our everything! The tenth and final thing we should know about Jesus is that Jesus is Redeemer of His People Verse 14 tells us that in Jesus, we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins Paul says something very similar in Ephesians 1:7 (KJV) 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood (the blood of Jesus), the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; We have redemption through the blood of Jesus. What this means is that each of us were in bondage to sin and sin s penalty, with no hope of being set free forced to pay the penalty for our own sin. Yet Jesus stepped in to free us from this bondage by paying the penalty we deserved. He paid our ransom. Jesus stepped in to free us to redeem us. Let me ask you a question this morning Have you been redeemed freed from the bondage of sin and sin s penalty? 13

14 I pray you have, because You see, each of us have a huge problem. We are sinners who are separated from a holy God. And our sin will keep us from a relationship with our Creator for eternity. But there s hope and His name is Jesus. He became a man, lived a perfect life, and died a brutal death. He rose again, was witnessed by many, and ascended back to heaven. On that cross, Jesus took the penalty on Himself that we deserved. He became our Redeemer so that we could be forgiven. Listen Jesus is your Creator He is your Sustainer He is your God. But the question is: Will you make Jesus your Savior and Lord? John 3:36 (KJV) 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. If you re here this morning and you re not sure your sins have been forgiven, you need to turn to Jesus. He is your only hope. Leave your sins behind you and reach out in faith to the one who died for you. 14

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