Christ is supreme!! Colossians 1:15-23

Who died on the cross? That is not as trivial a question as it sounds. Because the person who died in our place on the cross was not merely a man, not just Jesus of Nazareth the carpenter’s son, not just a great moral teacher, not just a miracle worker. The person who died on the cross was none other than The Son of God, Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
This is really important when we come to Paul’s letter to the Colossians. We saw two weeks ago that the apostle’s theme is Christian Maturity.
Colossians 128 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
Our goal is to become perfect in Christ, mature in Christ. We saw two week ago that our starting point is the basics of the Christian faith, the gospel which brings us hope and faith and love. We saw that we need to discover God’s will, both God’s cosmic masterplan for the whole of creation and his specific will for each of our own lives. And we saw that God wants us to live lives worthy of Him, pleasing Him by bearing fruit in good works, by growing in our knowledge of God , by growing in our Christian Character in patience and endurance, and by growing in joy and thanksgiving.
It should be obvious that the key to Christian maturity is simply this – Jesus Christ Himself! This is why after his initial greetings Paul begins the body of this letter by quoting a very early Christian hymn to give us the most wonderful summary of who Christ is and what Christ has done for us. Paul’s glorious subject is the supremacy of Christ – Christ is supreme! He begins with
WHO JESUS CHRIST IS (verses 15-19)
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 …

To describe who Christ is, Paul uses three words – the IMAGE of God, the FIRSTBORN of God and the FULLNESS of God.
The IMAGE of God (verse 15)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, The visible expression, the exact likeness of the invisible God. As the Message Translation puts it, We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. If we want to know what God is like, we look at Christ.
The word is ikon which originally meant a statue or picture or representation of something else. This reminds us of the story of Creation in Genesis 1:26-27.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.

Human beings were created in God’s image, to bear God’s likeness. Adam and Eve were like God in what they were, in qualities of mind and spirit. Adam and Eve were also like God in what they did, as God’s representatives in the world caring for creation. In the Fall of humanity that image of God in Adam and Eve was marred by their disobedience.
But Jesus Christ was not merely a man created “IN God’s image.” Jesus IS God’s image. The one and only Son of God, Immanuel, God with us, God incarnate as a human being. And God’s masterplan is to recreate His image again in all human beings.
2 Corinthians 5:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Paul spells this out in Colossians 3 and we will think much more about this later.
9 …. you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Christ the image of God was born a man and died and rose again to restore God’s image in everybody who puts their trust in Him. JESUS Christ is the IMAGE of God. AND THERE’S MORE! Christ is also
THE FIRSTBORN OF GOD (verses 15-18)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
18 …. he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
In Judaism the significance of being the firstborn is much more than being born first. It is a metaphor for a person who holds a position of special favour. In the Old Testament the firstborn inherits a double share. The chosen nation of Israel were described as God’s firstborn son. Christ is truly God’s firstborn son.
17 He is before all things,
“Before” here refers to priority in time – Christ existed before everything was created, before even time began. But “before” here also means “before in rank, in standing,” Christ stands ahead of everything else, first in all of creation.
That is because Jesus Christ was the firstborn of the OLD ORDER, of this present universe, of the whole of creation.
Christ is 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.
Christ comes first because he created everything! All things – not just on earth but in heaven as well, not just visible but even invisible things, spiritual thrones, powers, rulers, authorities. And not only did He create all things. But all things were created FOR Him. He was not only the agent of creation but also its goal, its purpose. All things were created BY Him AND FOR him!
And not only was Christ the CREATOR of all things. He is and remains the SUSTAINER of all things. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Hebrews 1:2-3 puts it this way:
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. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
Listen to that in the Message translation:
By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!
That’s how great Christ is!! Creator and sustainer of the whole universe – this present age, the old order. AND THERE’S MORE!!
Because Christ is also firstborn of the NEW ORDER – the age to come, God’s new creation, the church.
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.
Not only was Christ the firstborn of everything which already is. He is also the firstborn of everything which is to come, the firstborn from among the dead, the head of the body, the church. So indeed in everything Christ has the supremacy. Christ is pre-eminent. He is the lynchpin of creation, the pivot on which everything is held in place. Christ is the focus towards which everything converges. Christ is supreme! Christ is the IMAGE of God and the FIRSTBORN of God. AND THERE’S MORE!!!
Christ is the FULLNESS OF GOD
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
The full nature of God was in Christ. Christ was “full to bursting” with God. The Living Bible puts it this way. “God wanted all of Himself to be in His Son.” Everything God is, Jesus Christ is! Jesus Himself said so in John 10:30. “I and the Father are one.”
Paul picks us this theme in Colossians 2 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
Everything God is, Christ is! All the fullness of deity in bodily form. And then Paul says something even more amazing.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
Christ has all the fullness of God, Christ is head over every power and authority, and Christ gives to US fullness. You have been given fullness in Christ. Paul says in Ephesians 4 that our goal is to become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. That is what Christian maturity is all about. Fullness of life. The whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Our God is too small!! Jesus Christ is the IMAGE of God. Jesus Christ is the FIRSTBORN of God. Jesus Christ is the FULLNESS of God. Christ is supreme!! Bow down and worship – for this is your God.
That is who Christ is. AND THERE’S MORE!!! Because Paul now goes on to remind us what Christ has done for us.
WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE FOR US (more briefly from verses 19-23)
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.
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

Paul reminds us of what we were without Christ.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
We were alienated from God, separated from God, trapped in darkness, rebels and strangers from God. Enemies because in our minds because of our wicked thoughts and enemies in our bodies because of our wicked behaviour. That is what we used to be. Then God gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us,
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.
We have been reconciled to God. Christ has turned us from God’s enemies into God’s friends. And Paul also used other pictures for salvation earlier in chapter 1.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
We have been rescued. As those plucked from the jaws of death. We have been redeemed, like slaves bought out of slavery to sin and released as free men and women! And our sins have been forgiven!
. 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
How amazing that is! God views miserable sinners like you and me as holy, set apart for God, as without blemish, pure and unspoilt, as free from accusation, with a clear conscience and free from guilt! In Christ there is no condemnation.
What a transformation! But let us never forget that all these wonderful blessings come to us at such a great cost.
22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death

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.

So we come back to my first question. Just who died on the cross? We have been reconciled, rescued, redeemed, forgiven, all through the death of Jesus Christ, God the Son, the image of God, the firstborn of God, the fullness of God.
Just think for a moment about the crucifixion of the IMAGE of God. Perfection tasting imperfection. The immortal overwhelmed by mortality. The eternal facing its end. The omnipotent God – powerless. The omniscient God – facing ignorance. The omnipresent God crushed by death itself.
And how about the crucifixion of the FIRSTBORN of God. The Creator of all things put to death by His own Creation. The Sustainer, the one in whom all things hold together, hanging dying and dead. “Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered.”
And think about the crucifixion of the FULLNESS of God. Everything that God is was in Christ there on the cross, experiencing agony and isolation and rejection and hatred and despair and even abandonment. The fullness of God poured out to complete emptiness.
This is who died on the cross for you and for me! The Christ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Christ who is supreme! Who came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. Bow down and worship – for this is your God!!

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