The Supremacy of Christ

June 25, 2023 ()

Bible Text: Colossians 1:15-23 |


The Supremacy of Christ | Colossians 1:15-23

Brad O’Dell | June 25, 2023


Please turn in your Bibles to Colossians 1. We are in a summer series working through the book of Colossians, and this is our third week in this series.


I want to start with a short anecdote. Hadden Robinson, in his book on preaching, draws attention to this occasion. It’s an old recipe for rabbit stew that he saw, and he pointed out the fact that the very first instruction on the recipe was this: “First, catch the rabbit.” That’s really important, right? You can’t make rabbit stew if you don’t first catch the rabbit.


He said, “This is a writer who knew how to put first things first. That’s what we do when we establish priorities; we put the things that should be in first place in their proper order.” 


Putting first things first is a principle that we can see in lots of areas of life. If you’re going to talk to someone about how the solar system works, you should start with the sun, because that’s how everything else falls into place and how the rest makes sense. 


Since my mom’s here today, I’ll do one in honor of my mom. My mom taught me how to hit a baseball when I was very young, and as complex as a baseball swing might be and how difficult it is to hit a round ball with a round surface well, the very first thing you need to know about hitting a baseball is to keep your eye on the ball, because you can’t hit what you’re not looking at. My mom taught me that, and that’s the only reason I made it past little league baseball with any success.


So first things first. This is what we see Paul doing in this passage for us this morning in Colossians 1:15-23. He’s had this opening prayer for the Colossian believers, he’s thanked God for what he’s been doing in their lives, and then he’s asked for God to continue this work that God has started in their lives. In that he’s presented this vision of what the mature and full Christian life can look like. Then his language will stop and it will transition and it will come and take a little bit of a different form, in what we call a hymn or a poem—this Christological hymn that is so important in all of the New Testament. He’s going to say, “But before we get into all of this and fleshing it out, we need to remember Jesus, who this Jesus is and the significance for your Christian walk of who he is.”


So that’s what we’re looking at today: putting first things first. Let’s read the text, starting in verse 15. Paul says,


“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.


“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”


This is one of the most astounding passages in all of the New Testament, one of the most rich. As I studied this passage this week I realized that almost every single phrase, almost everything between a set of commas in this whole run-on sentence, as Paul likes to write, could have been an entire chapter in a systematic theology book. So I was challenged by the question, “What do I do in a 30- or 35-minute sermon on a Sunday morning?” We’re going to try to see the major connections of the Scripture and how it flows and try to bring some clarity to some of these thoughts, and then see how that hits us in our spiritual walk, and we’ll trust that you can study it more as the Lord leads you down the road.


The first thing I want us to see about this is this is a change in the language patterns that Paul’s been working. We see something of a stylized text, something that becomes a little more versified or poetic. A vast percentage of the Bible is written in poetry, and the Jewish people loved to speak in poetry for things they found of most importance. Here we see Paul transitioning to something of a hymn or a poem. It might have been something that was composed before this and Paul takes it and sticks it in here and applies it, or it might have been something that Paul simply put in this letter to the Colossians in this hymnic way. But we see something of a special structure, a very intentional structure to this. So I want to have my outline follow that.


We see some repetitions here. We see repetition of the words “he is.” We see that a number of times in there. We see repetition of the word “for,” and these are explaining some of the aspects of what he said in the “he is” portions of the text.


Then we see repetition of the words “in him,” “through him,” “to him,” or “for him.” We’re going to see how this happens a couple different times and how these play off of each other.


What I did in my slides is I tried to just draw indications of some of these textual elements that are repetitious. We also see him repeat the word “all” eight times in this short passage of Scripture. I want you to notice those so you can see some of the flow of the text. So, here’s my outline—we’re going to look at:


  1. In Creation: Who Jesus Is and How He Is So
  2. In New Creation: Who Jesus Is, How He Is So, and Why He Is So
  3. In Christ: Who We Were, Who We Are, Why We Are So, and How We Are So


I think you’re going to see that a little more clearly in the text that goes with each of those.


  1. In Creation


First we see who Jesus is in creation. We see this in verses 15 and 17, focusing on the first portion of this passage, verses 15-17. There’s a division, really, between verses 17 and 18.


So, in creation we see that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,” and in verse 17, “He is before all things.” 


We see that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. What does that bring to mind? It brings to mind Genesis, when God created man in his image. What that was supposed to be was this understanding that mankind was supposed to help reflect God in the world and also to carry out God’s rule in the world. It includes more than that, but those are the big ideas. They are supposed to reflect God in the world, as true worshipers of him, and then they’re supposed to help carry out God’s rule in the world. They were co-rulers with God, vice-regents in God’s world and God’s kingdom.


So we see when it says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, we see that Jesus is the one who perfectly reflects God and who perfectly carries out God’s intended rule in the world. John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God . . . has made him known.” We see who God is, the rule he intended, what he wanted this world to look like, most perfectly in Jesus.


Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”


So we get this understanding that from all of eternity Jesus is this person in the Trinity who perfectly represented the Father, and then in his incarnation he perfectly images the Father on this earth. He is the image of the invisible God.


He is the firstborn of all creation. Now, this doesn’t mean that Jesus was the first being that was created. That was a claim that was followed by Arius in the fourth century, and this was a big controversy, and the church came to understand it as false. It’s known as the Arian controversy. The Council of Nicaea came to terms with this, and the Nicene Creed came out of that. We’re going to read the Nicene Creed at the end of the service today. There’s a whole history there.


But it doesn’t mean that Jesus was the first created being. Instead, “firstborn” in Jewish thought brings up the idea of the person who has the supreme authority or who has the ownership rights or is the highest in significance. This comes from the significance that the Jewish culture placed on the firstborn son in the family. The firstborn son was the one who got all of the inheritance and who carried on the family name and had the authority; he kind of became the patriarch of the family as his father passed on. The firstborn is the one of the highest significance and authority.


So, in Jewish thought we see this word “firstborn” being applied in various ways to indicate someone who has the most significant place.


We see it in Exodus 4:22. Moses goes to Pharaoh, and God sends him with words, and he says, “Please let my people—” not please, but, “Let my people go!” It’s a command. And why does he say that? Because “Israel is my firstborn son. Of all the peoples of the earth, they are the ones who are most important to me, so I am calling you to let them go to come worship me.”


In Psalm 89:7 we see this usage. It says, “I will appoint David to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.” The firstborn, the most exalted of all the kings of the earth. That’s the idea that of all the kings of earth, David would be the one highest in importance, highest in authority, because he was representative of God’s rule in this earth. That’s what it was intended to be. “The firstborn of all creation.” Jesus is the one of supreme importance and highest in significance. He is the owner of all creation.


He is before all things. That means simply that he’s self-existent, and that means that he is God. John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”


We see these high phrasings, these high titles of Jesus. This is who Jesus is. What are some of the implications for us this morning?


We see that, first of all, Jesus is not just Lord in the church when we gather together, but he is Lord over all created things. He has all the authority in the world and we are called to submit every single area of our lives to him. 


We’re called to submit our finances to him. When you set your budge and you’re thinking about where your expenses go, what decisions you’re making, do you say, “Jesus is Lord of all and he owns it all, so therefore the decisions I make will be in alignment with what he would have me do,” or I bring this before him and say, “Jesus, what would you have?” He is Lord over all in your finances.


He’s Lord over our families. When you’re trying to say, “What am I going to do with my family? How am I going to raise my kids? What are the decisions we’re making?” do you see that Jesus is Lord over all? Parents, do you know that your children are ultimately the Lord’s? He has given you a stewardship to raise them in what he’s called them to and to press into their lives and to love them with the very love that he has for them, but ultimately it is a stewardship. They are the Lord’s. Do you say, “Lord, these are your children. How would you have me be your instrument to shape them into your image and your purpose in your life?”


In our entertainment, when we’re just sitting around at night and we’re tired from the day and we don’t know what we should spend our time doing and we just are flicking through the television or deciding what shows to watch, what movies to watch, do we have an understanding that Jesus is the one to whom we answer? He is the supreme authority, and I will check these decisions with him. Why is that? Because Jesus is the one who is Lord over all in this life.


What this is called properly is just worship. This is what a lifestyle of worship looks like. It’s not so much about how we sing when we come together or what songs we sing, and it’s not so much about the fact that we can sit still for forty minutes and not mess around too much during the sermon, right? That’s part of worship, but worship ultimately is a lifestyle of offering our entire lives to the Lord as a sacrifice to him, asking that it would be wholly pleasing to him. That’s language we get from Romans 12. It’s a lifestyle of worship.


Here’s another implication. Because Jesus is Lord over all and he is highest in importance, he is supreme, it means that we can trust him. You know, there’s nothing in this world that is outside of the control of Lord Jesus. That means this week, in all those moments that feel chaotic, all those times of stress, all those times of despair, all those times of helplessness, remember who you serve and remember who is on the throne of this world. Jesus is Lord over it all, and he can surely come and give you help in your time of need.


(2) We don’t just see who Jesus is, we see how he is so. Here we get something of these explanatory verses, these explanatory clauses in Scripture, and it’s indicated by the word “for.” That’s not explaining why, it’s explaining how Jesus is so. It says this in verse 16: “For by him all things were created.” And verse 17: “And in him all things hold together.” Everything was created by him or in him, and in him all things are held together.


Again in verse 16, “All things were created through him and for him.” We see that repetition of “in him,” “through him,” “for him.” We’re going to see that again later on when we look at Jesus in the new creation paradigm.


So, Jesus is supreme in creation because Jesus is, first, the source and the sustainer of all creation. You see, no one decides that they need to question the authority and right of the painter for the scene he paints on a canvas. Or, to use the language of Scripture, no pot, in the process of its being made and stored, decides to question the potter as to what shape it will take and how it will be maintained.


We need to understand that we do have this relationship with Jesus because of who Jesus is and because of his eminence in creation. And though our relationship to Jesus is more than this, it is certainly never less than this. Jesus is Lord, he is creator, we are creation; he is the authority, we are the ones who submit to his authority.


But it also says this—when he’s talking about all things being created by Jesus, it says, “Everything in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.” It’s an interesting little collection of terms. What we see here is that everything in view here is not only physical reality, but spiritual reality as well. So I know we live in a very demythologized world and we don’t see angels and demons behind every aspect of things the way ancient peoples did. When sickness came, they saw it as some malevolent entity at work. When storms came and destroyed their whole wellbeing and life they saw malevolent forces at work. Though we do believe God is over all these things, this isn’t the way we see the world all the time.


However, I think this text is bringing to mind the fact that there are spiritual beings at work in this world. The important thing is to see that Jesus is King over all of them. He created them all, he lords over them all, he sustains and maintains everything that happens through them.


This is important for the Colossian believers. What this does is it brings us to one of the core issues of this letter. This is important for us moving forward, so I’d like you to key in. This is, What is the big theological pitfall or what are some of the big theological errors that Paul is concerned about these Colossian believers falling into? 


There’s a phrase connected to it that’s called the “Colossian heresy,” and what a lot of people have seen over many years is something of a unique syncretism of beliefs that has taken place here, where there’s a mix of people who are tempted to fall into Judaism in some ways, but also there seem to be some Greek elements because of some language in the book about them following these strange philosophies, or even this worship of angels that can happen, or this high fear of malevolent demons or entities, and stuff like that.


I’m going to make an interpretive decision here, and this is what’s important. I’m actually going to say that the biggest error that Paul is calling these people against or to be concerned against is really just Judaism proper. I think all of these elements—the philosophy language, the worship of angel language, the inordinate fear of demons—I think all of this actually can be consistent with some of the Jewish beliefs of that age.


We actually see that here in this passage. This is why I took a few seconds to explain this. Here in this phrase, when it’s talking about all things being created in Jesus and through him and for him, this is all language that the Jews of that day and before and after would actually apply to the law. They did it through a simple step process. 


In Proverbs 8 we get this presentation of Lady Wisdom. She says, “I was with God before creation; I was there when he laid the deeps.” What this personified Lady Wisdom is saying is, “I was with God at creation. God created the world through wisdom, and therefore, choose the wise life, because that is the way to the good life, the right life, the pure life, the life that is consistent with how God made the universe.”


So we see that wisdom is the way of the good life. What the Jewish people did is they actually said, “Well, God has given Torah, or the law, to us to guide our lives and to call us into right living. So what Lady Wisdom must be in that presentation in Proverbs is actually Torah itself. Torah was with God in creation; Torah was what God created the world through, and even to and even for. God did this for Torah.” They almost saw this as a personified entity that was with God at creation and that God was speaking into being.


What Paul is doing here, for these Colossian believers who will be in some way drawn to not turn away from Christ and turn to Judaism but to add Judaism onto their Christian beliefs—he’s saying, “No, no, no. Everything that the Jews belief about the Torah is actually fulfilled in Jesus Christ.”


What he’s trying to emphasize is the exclusive role. That’s an important term: the exclusive role Jesus has as the source of salvation and as the source of life. He connects this to the source of creation.


N.T. Wright says it like this—it’s a good quote to help us understand this. He says, 


“If Christ is God’s wisdom, his Torah, then all that Judaism believed to be true of herself and of her Torah, all that she hoped for because of her monotheism and election, has been achieved in Jesus Christ. He, not the law, is the Father’s agent in the world. He, not an abstract, divine wisdom, is supreme over the nations and their gods. For him, not for Israel, all things were created. This is the fundamental emphasis of this poem within the letter as a whole.”


I know that was a lot of explanation, but I wanted you to understand a little of what’s going on in the text. Where does this land home for us?


Like I said, it probably wasn’t the case that the Colossian believers were tempted to abandon Christ for this other religion, for Judaism. Instead, they were mostly tempted to try to add on some of the regulations and some of the beliefs of the Jewish system to their faith, in response to their concern or their fear or some of their anxieties related to these spiritual powers in the heavenly places, or these demons.


I think this is something that, though it’s going to look very different for us these days, there is a reality that in this life we do often, even though we believe in Jesus and we put our hope and faith in Jesus, oftentimes we try to add things on to Jesus in order to find true salvation or to find the good life truly. Right? 


Sometimes it can look like adding on our efforts or trying to add in our own wisdom, or maybe it’s other ideologies that we connect to the gospel and say, “Surely these have to be an emphasis as well.” This is where we get those compound terms like a “social gospel” or “prosperity gospel” or “self-help gospel.” These are people not so much abandoning Jesus, but adding things on to Jesus and saying, “For the true life and for the good life to really be manifest you need to add these things on to that gospel message as well.”


I think we’re called to use our efforts and our wisdom and our experience—all those things—in life, but what can happen is that we can start to lean into those things instead of leaning into Jesus exclusively for life and salvation in this life. Here’s how we can diagnose if we’re doing this in our lives.


When life gets busy and when the fears come up and when the anxieties of life come up, when the trials come up, do you press more into Jesus, and do you get up early and spend more time with him? Do you carve out more time at the beginning of the day to pour into prayer and to hear from him and to make sure your heart is in line with his heart? Or do you actually bulk up your time with other priorities—more of your hard work, more of your disciplines, more of your creativity, maybe more of these other things in life that you think actually brings you happiness and satisfaction and life, and actually your time with Jesus gets reduced or canceled for a season?


If that happens in your life in those pressure times, it means in some way you’re leaning into those things that you’ve added on to Jesus, and you’ve lost the exclusivity of Christ. You see, to lose the exclusivity of Christ is really to lose Christ altogether, because what you’re following is not the true Jesus, but some false Jesus altogether.


  1. In New Creation


We also see who Jesus is in the new creation. We see this starting in verse 18. We first see who Jesus is. Notice again the repetitions. It says, “He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.”


When it talks about Jesus as the head, it means Jesus is the source and authority. It’s taking the same language, the same ideas, but now appropriating them into new creation. What we see is there’s a transition here. Jesus’ eminence and authority in creation now transfers into Jesus’ eminence and authority in new creation, or in the new created order that Jesus has brought in in the inauguration of the new age or the new kingdom in him. We see that he is the source and the authority.


We see that he is the beginning. The word “beginning” is tough. I think the Greek word there carries a lot more, and it’s really the idea of a first principle or a creative initiative or a source. When it says that Jesus is the beginning and it’s connecting this to the church, it means that he is the one who generates the church. He is that first principle. The church launches out of who he is in and of himself, and his death and resurrection. 


He is the firstborn from the dead. Here we see a repetition of the word “firstborn,” but a little bit of a different nuance. The first time it was talking about his status as the authority; here it carries that idea, but it’s also indicating the time and place, that Jesus is the first mover. As Jesus died and rose again, surely we will rise again fully into new life.


We see this in 1 Corinthians 15 with the words “firstfruits.” It says, 


“In fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”


“Each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” They surely will follow in the life and exaltation that he has accomplished and enjoys.


Who Jesus is in the church and how he is so. That’s the other thing we see in verses 19-20. Again, the clause starts with “for.” It’s explaining this. See the repetition of “in” and “through” and “to.” It says, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”


You see, Jesus’ headship of the new restored humanity is an aspect of Jesus’ headship over all of the new creation. We see that it’s not just that Jesus came to redeem the church, but he also came to redeem all of creation and to restore it all to its original glory.


I think we need to see an important assumption here. If Jesus is to reconcile—we see this word “reconcile,” which means to bring back into right relationship. We see this in relationships, right? If there’s a tension in a relationship, an offense given, we say that you can forgive someone, but that doesn’t mean the relationship is reconciled. For the relationship to be reconciled there must be a repentance on their part, an apology, there must be an ongoing relationship that happens after that. There’s a difference between just forgiving someone and a relationship being reconciled.


Here we see this word “reconciled,” and we see that all of creation had fallen into this disordered relationship with God. Though Jesus was chief, and though he was King, and though he was Lord over all in creation, not all of creation followed Jesus as Lord and as King. So in Jesus’ crucifixion, as he spilled his blood on the cross, what we see is that he does the work to pay the penalty for sin, not only in human beings but sin as it affected all creation, and he decisively did the work to heal all of those, so that things might be brought back into right relationship with Jesus.


We also see why he was so. This really connects to the creation portion and the new creation portion, and it’s right there at the latter end of verse 18. It says, “So that in everything he might be preeminent.” Again, “everything” is another repetition of the word “all.” “So that in everything he might be preeminent.”


This was always God’s intention in creation, in the history of the world, and in salvation; that all would coalesce in Christ, all would be dependent on Christ, that Jesus would be the preeminent one in it all, that he would get all of the glory.


From the famous quote of Abraham Kuyper, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” That’s what the presentation we see in this Scripture is about.


Here’s the application. Here’s why this matters for us. This is why in this church and this is why so often when we’re preaching from Scripture we are emphasizing this point over and over and over again, and it is to make your life about Jesus, not about yourself. Make your life about Jesus and what Jesus has called you to and what Jesus is about, not about yourself; because if you make it about yourself, which is what our culture is telling you to do in every single aspect of your life and every single medium that you might engage with. Don’t believe that message. Don’t be swayed by it. Instead, the message of creation, the message of God’s intention, is that we would make our lives about Jesus, because God so set it up that Jesus would be the one who is preeminent and in whom all redounds to his glory.


We see that it’s not that Jesus is just the locus of our faith, but Jesus is actually the locus of all of creation. Ultimately, guys, there is no true life, there is no true joy, there is no true fulfillment or satisfaction or success or stability unless it is found in Jesus and in the gospel of Jesus Christ and in the life that Jesus has called us to in that gospel.


Why is that? Do you see how it is so a little more clearly? Jesus is the preeminent one in all of creation, he is the preeminent one in salvation and the new created order, the age to come. He is the one in whom all these things are. You can pursue lots of other things, but it will all turn out to be shadows and vapors in comparison to the substance that is Christ.


  1. In Christ


We also need to look at verses 21-23 here. This is really where it brings it home for us. I titled this one In Christ, and we see who we were, who we are, why we are so, and how we are so.


Who we were—look at verse 21. You see him turn it to us. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds . . .” We were alienated and hostile in mind. Why is that a big deal? Because we were alienated from the source of all life and fulfillment and vitality and hope and peace in this world. We were alienated from them. Not only that, but in our hearts, in our souls, in our actions, we were hostile against him. This is the condition of sin. It’s not just that we’re broken here and there, it’s not just that we mess up here and there, but it’s that we are completely alienated from God, separated from him, and actually hostile. And all of our actions, because of this, because it comes from that heart disposition, are evil. So we are enslaved to doing evil.


But we see by God’s grace that that’s not where he leaves us, if we’re in Christ. We also see who we are. It goes and says in verse 22, “He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death.” As Jesus did the work of reconciling all of creation and bringing it back into right relationship with God so that Jesus reigns supreme in all of creation, so in our hearts he has done the work to reconcile us and to bring us back to him. What does he do this by? He does it by the blood of his cross.


He does this for a reason. We see why we are so, why we are this way. We see it in verse 22b. Why did God do this? “In order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.” Did you know that that’s God’s heart for you, his intention for your life? That someday you would stand before him and the relationship has been so repaired that you stand before him holy and blameless and above reproach? This is what Jesus has surely accomplished by his death for us, when he took our penalty for sin and he did everything needed to bring us back into a right relationship with God.


Charles Spurgeon says it this way. He says, “By this blood sin is canceled. By Jesus’ agonies justice is satisfied. By his death the law is honored, and by that precious blood, in all of its mediatorial efficacy and in all of its cleansing power, Christ fulfills all that he stipulated to do on behalf of his people towards God. O believer, look to the blood of Christ and remember that there is Christ’s part of the covenant carried out! There is nothing for thee to do; Jesus has done it all.”


Jesus has done it all. Amen?


The last thing we see is how it is we are so. How is it that we experience this life of holiness and blamelessness before God? He has this clause here. He says, “If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”


This seems to insert something of a problem into everything we’ve talked about. “What do you mean, ‘if,’ Paul? Everything is about who Jesus is, what he’s done to reconcile me back to him, right? What do you mean, ‘if’?”


We see something called a conditional clause. A conditional clause is an if/then statement: “If this, then this.” If the if statement is true then the then statement will also be true coming from that. That’s a conditional statement; we use that a lot in common parlance.


What Paul is saying is that if you’re going to experience this holiness, if you’re going to experience this new life that has been accomplished for you in Christ, if you’re going to walk in right relationship with God fully, it means that you need to continue in this faith and hope that you have given to Christ from the outset. It means you need to remain grounded in your faith in Christ. It means you need to not be blown about by the winds of the trials that come into your life. It means you need to not be tossed about by the waves of difficulty and doubt that come into your life. You need to not be thrown off balance by all of these cultural shifts that are happening in life. You need to remain grounded in your faith.


As you believe in Jesus and as you believe that his promises will surely be manifest in your life, because he is Lord of all, and as you maintain this faith in him, then these things surely will be manifested in your life.


But the phrasing of it, when it says, “If indeed,” is actually a very specific way that he wrote this in the Greek. He wrote it in such a way that he is absolutely positive that the “if” statement will be true and that the “then” statement will truly be manifest in your life. It’s a specific phrasing of it, to where it leaves no doubt. He says, “If indeed,” and when he says that he says, “and I know that it surely will take place.” 


Here’s the thing. We are called to do what we can to keep our faith in Jesus, to keep our eyes focused on him, to maintain our hope in him, to try to stay steady in the gospel; but the grounds of it all is the work that Jesus has done and that he has accomplished for us. So Paul states this with the confidence that it surely will happen, “because I know the Lord who makes it happen, and it is the Lord of creation and the Lord of salvation, who has all authority and all power to make it so.” That’s how he phrases this to wrap up this section of Scripture.


So, I know that was a lot, and I know that was dense. I want to read a quote that’s a summary of everything we’ve read. I also got this from N.T. Wright; I found it very helpful in my study this week. I want this to be what we walk away with this morning. Listen to this quote.


“This passage gives the church not merely an exalted view of Jesus and hence of humanity, but of God and his world. God, man, and the world are each now to be understood in relation to Jesus Christ. He makes the invisible God visible. He fulfills the Father’s reconciling purpose on the cross. He is the Father’s agent in creation and redemption. He is the truly human being, the true image of God. He is Lord of old and new creation, being himself the beginning of the latter, the first created being to attain the state of perfection, which will one day be shared by all things in heaven and on earth. It is this Lord that the Colossians have come to worship, his image that they will one day fully share.”


That’s what I want us to walk away with, that last sentence. After everything we’ve dwelt on—about the magnificence and the preeminence and the glory of Jesus this morning—here’s what I want us to walk away with: that it is this Lord that we have come to worship and it is this image that we will someday share in Christ. Isn’t that a wonderful truth to walk away with this morning? Let’s pray.


Lord Jesus, we thank you for your word and who you are. What can we say as we meditate on these things? God, ultimately we ask that the grandeur of it would be what lands on our hearts, though there’s a lot to understand and sift through. Jesus, our request is that you would be magnified in our hearts this morning. If we are unified in anything in this church together, may it be that we serve the Lord of all creation and the Lord of all new creation, the creation that will surely come in its fullness in the final day, and that our life and our hope and our joy surely is in him.


Lord, would you make this church more and more a place that magnifies your name, that represents who you are, that carries out your rule in this world just a little bit more, so that we can have joy in your magnification, Jesus? We ask this in your matchless name. Amen.