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::: Scripture and Music ::
Our God Saves (Baloche, Brown)
Cornerstone (Bethel Music - Myrin, Morgan, Liljery, Mote)
Worship Team: Living Hope (Wickam, Johnson)
Living Hope (chorus)
Fairest Lord Jesus (CRUSADER'S HYMN)
:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf) ::
This "manuscript" represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript. Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided for that purpose.
If you could know the future, would you want to? Would it change your actions today? We’ve been watching the show Timeless for a couple of seasons. It involves some good guys, some bad guys, and a lot of time travel. It’s mainly focused on history and the impact of changing key events. But one character has recently developed the ability to catch glimpses of the future. She and several other characters are wrestling with what to do with that information. Well, today’s text is not quite that sci-fi, but it does visit the whole span of history, from Creation to Jesus’ future reign over all things. Colossians 1 will walk us through the person and work of Jesus – who he was and what he did (and is doing still). As we continue in our “Raised for a Reason” series we will be reminded that we were created for a reason, saved for a reason, and yes, raised for a reason.
In verses 13-14, the context is set for our text today. Paul writes that God “rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” That’s the announcement, the Good News! And God did through Jesus the Son, “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” What follows is a description of the Beloved Son and what God has done for us through him. I’m highlighting a number of “He is” statements about who Jesus is – the person of Jesus. And each one says a bit about what he has done – the work of Jesus. All of this describes God’s rescue of you from darkness to His Kingdom, so I’d challenge you to ask yourself those same Timeless questions: Do I want to know this? Does it change anything for me today? I’ll return to those at the end.
HE IS the firstborn of all creation (vv.15-17)
Starting in verses 15-16, we read that “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” I didn’t use all that in the title because it’s long and the ‘firstborn’ language frames the whole passage. But it is all said about who Jesus is. First, he is image of the invisible God. He is God made visible to humanity. This brings to mind the first chapter of John and the “Word made flesh” who “moved into the neighborhood.” Jesus is God with us, full of grace and truth – visible, tangible, audible, and come among us in the flesh. He is also the “Firstborn of all creation.” This does not mean that Christ was created or born at Creation, but that he is the heir of God’s power and authority over all creation. This relates to the corresponding language and imagery in the rest of this passage which describes the Kingdom of the Beloved Son and His full power, glory, honor, and authority AS God.
Indeed, verse 16 goes on to make clear that he was not created, but that “BY HIM all things were created.” And the list of what he has created is not just heavens and earth, but visible and invisible, and all forms of authority and power in heaven and earth. The verse concludes, “…all things have been created THROUGH Him and FOR Him.” The point of all this is not just to show that Jesus is eternally co-existent with the Father or that He was present and involved with Creation, but that godly power and authority over all things belongs to Christ as well.
I’m also including verse 17 in this section. It says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” This continues the declaration that Jesus preceded all of Creation, but also that he sustains all of Creation. This is part of his power, authority, and rule. You may have heard the Trinity explained functionally before – that God is Creator, Jesus is Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit is the Sustainer. Well Colossians 1 disagrees. The Triune God cannot be separated that way, for Jesus is involved with all three of those functions in these few verses.
So WHO is Jesus?
He is God made visible to us, God come among us, with all the power and authority of God Himself.
WHAT has Jesus done?
He has made us and everything there is and he rules us and everything there is (whether we acknowledge it or not). Part of that rule is holding all things together.
HE IS also head of the body, the church (vv.18-23)
In verse 18 we read that “He is also head of the body, the church.” That is rich imagery that we explored last Fall. The same verse moves on to several other “He is” statements that we’ll look at in a few minutes, but then verses 19-23 describe the WORK Jesus has done to create the church. Verse 19 begins with the WHO thread: Jesus is the one in whom the “fullness” (of glory, power, authority) of God dwells. This is continuing what has already been said about Jesus being the image and firstborn heir.
Then, verses 20 and following pick up the WORK thread, expanding on the redemption and forgiveness in verse 14. Here we read of God’s reconciliation in Christ, making peace between us and God, though we were formerly “alienated and hostile (to God)… engaged in evil deeds.” This is all the work of the cross, of Jesus death: it has reconciled us to God. Just as, in faith, we are joined to that reconciling work, we are joined to the resurrected Jesus that he might present us to God “holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” (v.22)
And that is where the work of Christ shifts from His death to His resurrection, because He is not presenting us holy, blameless, and dead to God, but holy, blameless and ALIVE! We are also joined to his resurrection, which is the focus of this series. It’s that whole Good Friday – Easter distinction I always want to make. On the cross on Good Friday Jesus bore our sin that we might be forgiven and made right with God. But it was in His Easter resurrection that we have life after forgiveness. We were raised for a reason – to live and join with Him in His ongoing work.
So WHO is Jesus?
He is the head of the church who bears the full authority, power, and glory of God.
WHAT has Jesus done?
He has reconciled us to God – making peace where there was no peace and a way where there was no way.
HE IS the firstborn from the dead (v.18)
So back in the second half of verse 18 we read: “He is the [new] beginning, the firstborn from the dead.” This bookends the first statement that Jesus was in the beginning as the firstborn of creation. In His resurrection, He is the firstborn from the dead (with us coming after, joined to Him) and His resurrection marks a new beginning for us (indeed, for all creation!). What is already true in the present is that the risen Jesus is head of the church and ruler of God’s Kingdom. But that Kingdom is now and not yet, with Jesus’ reign still unfolding. That’s why verse 18 continues with this explanation of the new beginning Jesus’ resurrection has created: it is “so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Remember, he was in “first place” before creation as the firstborn of creation, but now he is bringing fallen and restored creation with him as firstborn from the dead, so that we and all creation will come to recognize and acknowledge His reign and rule.
So WHO is Jesus?
He is also firstborn in resurrection and the ruler of God’s now and coming Kingdom.
WHAT has Jesus done?
In resurrection, He brings us holy and accepted into the presence of God and holds first place not only in the new creation but in our lives.
Would it Change Your Actions?
At the beginning of the sermon I asked if you’d want to know the future and if knowing it would change your actions. I’d like to do something I don’t know that I’ve ever done and ask you to answer that question.
What we talked about today was WHO Jesus is and WHAT Jesus has and is doing. God’s Word declares those things as true, not only in the eternal past, but in our present and into our future. What’s your takeaway? What’s one thing that you’d say or do differently with this news? (Now if you already knew all these things and it’s already profoundly changed your actions, I’d love to hear briefly how so. But more so I’d like to hear how you respond to God’s Word today.)
Responses from the congregation…
It is easy to separate weekday activities from Sunday activities. For me, a takeaway is consciously incorporating God and my relationship with Christ in each moment during the week, even in the mundane moments of “wake up, get ready for school” and throughout the day.For myself, I think the news that we have been raised for a reason continues to give me forward momentum and hope. It would be one thing – a glorious and wonderful thing – to know that my past sins and mistakes have been addressed, forgiven, and wiped clean. But there are some days I wake up and it’s hard to see or be positive about what’s next. But this news is like a lifeline, perhaps into the fog, but trusting the one who is on the other end. So, the action for me are choices and steps to trust God even when I can’t see what’s ahead, because I know WHO is ahead. Amen.
Thanks to Jesus, I am blameless; BUT there are a lot of other people who are blameless, too, and I ought to treat them that way.
One thing that sticks with me is the image of “team Jesus” when he throws the cloak around us and claims us as his own. I think, “I did this and I did this” but I can picture Jesus standing next to me claiming me on his team. That’s a very comforting image for me.