Asbury Free Methodist – By Rev. Dr. Brent Russett
Genuine – A Walk through Colossians – Part 3 April 25, 2021
There are times when I preach that my command of the English language seems extremely inadequate. Talking through this scripture is one of those times.
Not only that, but each phrase of the passage of scripture that we are going to look at is so pregnant with meaning that I could spend a week on each verse and still not come close to plumbing the depth of what Paul is saying. Yet I am going to run through this passage in one sermon. Things are gong to be missed.
Not only that but these verses bring clarification to some of the greatest theological debates in history, but we do not have time to look at that.
Yet, all that being said, it is really my privilege to encourage you with this passage. There is an old chorus Let’s talk about Jesus. —Ok, musically it wasn’t so great but in some ways it describes what we are going to do today. I am hoping that as you see Jesus through the eyes of scripture that you will fall in love with him again.
This sermon will be part sermon part worship.
This is appropriate because the scholars tell us that the verses we are going to look at was a hymn of the church. There is some question as to how the hymn was laid out in terms of phrases and stanzas. But let me give you one possible way. And let me read the scripture to you one more time.
A Hymn to Jesus
Colossians 1:15–20 (NIV)
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God,
The firstborn over all creation.
16 For in him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible,
; all things have been created through 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,
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.
The Son is the image of the invisible God.
That is what Jesus said in John 12:45 – “The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.” In Christ the invisible God became visible. Jesus manifested God.
Hebrews 1:3 (NIV)
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
When you see Jesus, you have seen the father. This means that when you see Jesus having compassion on the lost the hurting the grieving the sick. You are seeing the heart of God. This means when you hear the stories of Jesus – the prodigal son coming back home and being received, the sower going out to sow, the shepherd leaving his 99 sheep to find the one that was lost, you are hearing the heart of God. When you see Jesus loving the unlovable tax collector, touching the untouchable lepper, speaking to the unrelatable woman at well, you are seeing the heart of God.
In all of those things you can see who God wants to be for you. For the compassion of Jesus, the love of Jesus, the truth of Jesus, the life of Jesus is God’s heart for you. He is the image of the invisible God.
He is the Firstborn over all creation.
This does not mean that Jesus was born, but it describes his place of privilege, his special relationship with the father. It speaks of his relationship to all of creation. He is overall. God made humanity to rule over creation and steward creation. But Jesus has authority over that. He is the ultimate ruler, the ultimate steward of creation.
This means that all of creation matters to him. Some people think that all that God cares for is people. But in fact he cares for all of creation which means that the people of God need to be good stewards of this planet.
For in him all things were created
That is exactly what the apostle John says
John 1:3 (NIV)
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
In scripture, God the Father is presented as the architect; he determined to bring creation into existence. Jesus in a sense the foreman of construction. Jesus actually brought the plans into existence through his creative imagination and power. The Spirit is the one who has the “hands on” relationship with creation and caries out the work.
What this means is that you are part of Jesus’ creation. It is through him that you came into being. You are not a mistake. You were in Jesus’ mind before the earth was formed.
Just to make sure you are getting what he is saying, Paul defines what he means be by all creation.
Things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.
It is not only the world, but it the heavens that were created by his almighty power. It was not just people but the angels of heaven that he spoke into being. It is not just the physical realm that you can see but the spiritual realm that you cannot see – he brought it all into being.
Paul goes on, just to make sure you get the point
Whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities.
Some think that Paul is describing kings and governments and Caesars. And that may be part of what he is describing – the visible. But when Paul uses this same description in the book of Ephesians, he is using it to describe the demonic realm. Without him nothing was made that has been made.
This world seems a little out of hand sometimes. Spiritual warfare seems intense sometimes. It seems like the devil has the upper hand sometimes. It seems like sin is running rampant sometimes. But I want you to know this, that the one who you call savior, the one that you call Lord, is over all creation. While everything is not conforming to his will, it is still under his control.
Paul sums it up like this.
All things have been created by him and for him.
At the first of this verse, it said that things were created through him and now it says things were created by him and for him.
What this means is that Jesus is the goal of all creation. Everything exists to display his glory. Ultimately, he will be glorified by his creation.
This means that you, whether you know it or not were created by Jesus and for Jesus. This means that you will find your purpose in Jesus because Jesus made you for a purpose. This means that as you worship Jesus, through your words, through your actions, through your work, through your play, you are living out what you were created to be. It is there you will find your fulfillment.
When you live outside your purpose, when you chose not to be “for him” in your life, you will find that you are living outside of who you were made to be. It is kind of like using an iphone as a hammer. You may be able to get the nail to go where you want it to go, but the iphone is going to be less than what it was created to be.
Those friends and family members that you have been praying for, they are his as well. They were created by him and for him.
He is before all things and in him all things hold together.
Before anything that you can see or touch there was Jesus. He is older than the planet, he is older than the stars, he is older than the universe.
But not only that, in him all things hold together. He did not bring all that is into existence and walk away, but he is very much still present in his creation now. He is still holding things together.
And although you may think the pandemics of the present or the natural disaster of the past indicate that the world is out of control, it is not. He is able to take all of what is, even the demons and devils of hell and eventually make them to conform to his purposes. When you look at the news and are temped to despair, when you look at the planet and you are tempted to wonder – I want you to know this – Jesus’ got this.
And here we come to the second stanza of the hymn. It starts to focus in on those of you who are following Jesus. It is going to focus on who Jesus is for his followers.
Not only is Jesus head of creation, but he is head of the new creation. In this new creation every aspect of creation that has been touched by sin will be touched by grace. Every part creation will be restored, and those part that demand to be left in their sin will be put in their proper place.
And he is the head of the body, the church.
Paul uses the word “body” to emphasize the organic nature of the church. He sometimes talks about the church as organization but here is talking about the gathering of believers. He is saying that Christ is the head of the organic church. He is Lord of the church.
That is so helpful when we think of Asbury. It is not my church it is Christ’s church. It is not the member’s church; it is Christ’s church. It is not the board’s church; it is Christ church. This is not just some nice sounding theological statement. Our goal is not only to say that Jesus is Lord but for Asbury to be under the functional Lordship of Christ. This means we look to do what he wants in the way that he wants us to do it, here in Perth Ontario Canada.
Paul goes on
He is the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead.
God determined that a new world order would be built around Jesus. The age of redemption and reconciliation was initiated by Jesus and through Jesus. He is the beginning – because he lives, we who come after him can live also.
So that in everything he might have the supremacy.
The resurrection of Christ showed the supremacy of Christ and it ushered in a new time, a new era. Just as creation depends on him for its existence, redemption depends on Jesus. He is the primary figure in it.
Sometimes in our worship of Jesus we focus on what Jesus did for us personally.
Thankyou Lord for saving my soul
Thankyou Lord for making me whole
Thankyou Lord for giving to me
Thy rich salvation so rich and free.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But we also need to remember the big picture. In everything he has supremacy. He has ushered in a new age for people of all time and all places and all colors and all nationalities, that they may know life, that they know forgiveness, that they may be reconciled to the God of the universe.
It is not just about us but so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.
Everything that God is Jesus is. Jesus was completely God. There are some who will try to tell you that he was a good man. There are others who will try to tell you that he was just a prophet. But God in all his fulness dwelt in him. Jesus was and is God. This is going to be really important for the next thing that Paul tells us.
And through him to reconcile to himself all things.
Next week we are going to look at verse 21- 23. But I want to draw you attention to verse 21
Colossians 1:21 (NIV)
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
We were separated from God by sin. We were enemies of God. But Jesus took it upon himself to reconcile us to God. But that is not where our verse stops. It wasn’t just about reconciling people to God it was about everything.
Through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven
Jesus is reconciling all things. When sin entered into the world so did death and decay. A world flourishing with life now had to contend with death. Death came in many forms. It came I sickness and disease. It came in weeds and thorns. It came hatred and anger. It came in discrimination and domination.
When we say that Jesus is reconciling all things to himself, the story is so much bigger than just the salvation of your soul. It is talk about restoring to life all that death has touched. What Jesus did is about repairing all that went wrong with creation. Salvation not only applies to humans but all things.
If you understand this then you will understand that part of what it means to cooperate with Christ is to promote the flourishing of life. Beauty is something to be valued. Flourishing in work and in purpose, flourishing in relationships and love, flourishing in nature and in government are all part of what Jesus was doing when he was reconciling all things to himself.
This will not totally happen until Jesus comes back, but in the here and now we cooperate with him as we work along side of him to reconcile the broken things to himself.
Making peace through his blood shed on the cross.
The power of the cross speaks life into every place where sin has spoken death. Through the cross, we have peace with God.
Often time we shrink Jesus down to our size. But that is a mistake. He calls us his friends. But remember, this friendship is not equal. For let me tell you about Jesus.
Colossians 1:15–20 (NIV)
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through 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, 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.
When you see who Jesus is worship of the one who was and is and is to come happens.
Sermon Questions – Colossians 1:15-20
April 25th, 2021
Let’s Talk about Jesus
1. What are you thankful for this week? (Gratitude is really important right now.)
2. How is your mental health during this lockdown? (poor, surviving, ok, or great)
Note: The sermon went through this passage line by line, but you will not have time in your small group to do that. So, this reflective study will focus on some of the lines but not others in this passage. If there is a line that this study misses but that you would like to reflect on, please do so.
3. Read Colossians 1:15-20. Does it make sense to you that this was an early hymn of the church? Why/why not?
4. Verse 15: The Son is the image of the invisible God. Read Hebrews 1:3 and John 12:45. How does Jesus help us to know God the father? How does that apply to our lives?
5. Verse 16: All this were created in him, through him and for him. (Note all the categories Paul lists) What does this means for our lives now? What does it mean for our neighbours?
6. Verse 17: In him all things hold together. What does this mean for our present world? What does this mean for our personal lives?
7. Verse 18. He is the head of the body, the church. What difference should this make for how Asbury operates?
8. Verse 19 For God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him. Why does this matter?
9. Verse 20. And through him to reconcile all this to himself. We know this means people (see verses 21-22) What else does this mean, and how could this make a difference in the way that we live?
10. Verse 20 By making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. What kind of peace is he talking about and what difference does it make in our lives?