Who is Jesus?
Who is Jesus?
Everybody knows a bit of the answer, some have a good idea from the bible and church, some are great theologians. Others are completely unaware and to them Jesus may be just some guy. No special significance, another man from 2000 years ago.
Others only know Jesus has something to do with church. Nobody seems to agree on exactly who Jesus is. There are those who promote a false version of Jesus. And while one group of people say that their “Jesus” is the true Jesus, completely different versions of “Jesus” are also said to be true. We can’t have multiple versions of Truth, because that isn’t possible. I think most people would agree with that. There can only be one absolute truth, one Jesus.
I know one thing for certain, is that no person will fully understand everything there is to know about Jesus, because we are sinful and desire something created out of our hearts rather than the God who created us. So for somebody to say they know the truth, that’s a pretty bold statement.
Not only that, but to be following the supposed truth about Jesus when it is false is the reason we are in the specific passage we are in today.
So, what is it? Who is right and how do we determine the Truth: Who is Jesus? Our reading today comes from Colossians chapter 1 verses 15-18 written by the Apostle Paul.
There isn’t a whole bunch of history on Colossae, but we can glean from the text what was going on. The church there had gotten into multiple false teachings because of the multicultural influence of sin. There seems to have been elements of…
- Angel worship
- Jesus as a created being or man
- Jesus not being in control of everything
- Jesus can’t be followed without extreme rules or wild spiritual practices
And so he wrote this letter to the church there to fortify them against false teaching. Paul begins his letter by telling them who he is, how thankful he is that they are together with him in Jesus, and how he has been praying from them to never depart from the truth. Paul wanted them to be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding so that they, the Colossians, might walk with Jesus in truth. He reminds them of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
After Paul’s prayerful introduction he begins to write about the aspects of Jesus that not only Colossae needed to be reminded of, but all churches in every age needs to be reminded of. He starts in verse 15:
- 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 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. 17 And 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, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
In these verses we will see a few aspects of Jesus I’d like to focus on.
The first is
Jesus’ right to everything
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Jesus is the image of God. Other places in the Bible has image language, or specifically, the Image of God language. In the creation of man in Genesis 1 we have God creating man in the image of Himself. Some would take this to mean that Jesus is created as a man and that He is firstborn of man, but that is not what Paul is saying.
Look at Gen 1:27
- So God created man IN his own image, IN the image of God he created him;
Man is created IN the Image of God, but notice what Paul says about Jesus back in Colossians,
- He IS the image of the invisible God…
Jesus is the Image of God, he wasn’t created in the Image of God, so JESUS IS GOD. Since Jesus is God, which this first part clearly shows us. Jesus is the image of God means He is the likeness of God, a perfect image of God. He is the physical embodiment of the eternal God. And we don’t just hear this from men like Paul in the Bible, Jesus himself says He is God in places all over the Bible, like in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” It Doesn’t get much clearer than that to me. This is just one aspect of Jesus though.
As God, Jesus is firstborn over all creation. What does it mean to be firstborn? When the Apostle Paul wrote this letter, firstborn was associated with birthright. The firstborn had the birthright of a family. Deuteronomy 21:17 says,
- …acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his. (ESV)
The word firstborn is a reference to origin and rank as regards to an inheritance. Firstborn was the one in a family who had privileges of the inheritance.
And because of the rank of first-born, they were in charge to keep family order. Jesus has privileges of the firstborn, He is charged with keeping order. Colossae had to think this was radical, because apparently they thought they were following a created being. They didn’t follow Jesus as God, the Most High God. Jesus isn’t created because God isn’t Created. He is the Creator who is first to inherit. Colossae followed Jesus a just man. But Jesus isn’t a created man and subordinate to God, because Jesus is God and is privileged to the right of all creation. Jesus has rights to everything. It sets the theme of Jesus’ order over creation that Paul continues to proclaim.
The Psalmist wrote about Jesus in Psalm 2:7-8
- …The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”
And about His inheritance in Psalm 50:10-11
- …For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.
I’m going to paraphrase Abraham Kuyper here: There isn’t anything in the universe, big or small, that Jesus doesn’t proclaim: “it is MINE!”
Jesus’ right to everything happens in different ways: some in the Bible, some in real life. In my life, I have three kids: Kayleigh is 10, Liliana, is 8, and Gabriel is 7. And as their father, I give them lots of stuff. They get school materials, toys, clothes, food, education from my wife and I with supplementation from the school they go to. You know the situation, parents provide for their kids. I give them a lot of stuff because they need it, because I want to give it, and because it helps to raise them the way I feel Jesus wants me to. I also spoil them sometimes.
But, sadly very often, the kids forget who gave them their things. We have a rule in my house: Slam your bedroom door, lose your bedroom door. I literally take the pins out of the hinges and remove their door for at least a day. It works very effectively, they loves their privacy and the ability to have that by closing their bedroom door. But the issue at hand is it is my door in my house and my room they lives in, with privacy that I have given them. The fact of the matter is this: Everything provided to them can be taken away just as easily as it given to them because it belongs to somebody above them, ME. The kids believe themselves to be in control of their belongings because they lose sight of the fact that their dad owns everything given to them.
Entire groups of people say this collectively as well. “We won’t let ‘so and so’ group of people be allowed here, why should we let them use our stuff, “‘I’ve earned it! This is our country!’” And let me set that straight, this isn’t our country, this is Jesus’ country, and so is every other country. That door isn’t my kids door, it belongs to Jesus. The ends of the earth are Jesus’s inheritance.
We rob Jesus of His right when we put ourselves over him. This is His creation, He has rights to it. You don’t earn anything if God doesn’t provide it. Jesus didn’t die for us, defeat death, and ascend to the right hand of God so He could lose His inheritance. Jesus’ death claims His inheritance. His inheritance is this:
- 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Jesus is God, everything is rightfully His. As firstborn, the whole of creation is Jesus’ inheritance, not just what we want to give to Him. There are many people who are willing to give up comfort, willing to give up their belongings to show God’s love. Which is good, because it belongs to Jesus anyway. Jesus is the Lord of our belongings, our land, our money, our family, and ourselves.
I’m reminded of Acts (2:44-46 ESV)
- And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
The early church understood this. They knew what to do with Jesus’ possessions. And as part of the created world, even you are Jesus’ inheritance.
- For from him and through him and to him are all things. (Rom 11:36 ESV)
You are part of the all things Paul is talking about here. And as Christians we share that inheritance and give the glory to God. We give glory to God, or we show Jesus’s right to everything in many ways as Christians:
- When we give to our collection or special Offerings
- Donations to Food ministries or making meals for those who need it.
- Sharing our possessions so others in need will share in the inheritance as well.
- Give up some of our free time to help our friends and family when they need it.
The next aspect is…
Jesus created everything.
- 16 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.
When I say Jesus created everything, that literally means everything, to the furthest extent possible and impossible. “For by Him all things were created” sounds pretty clear. The Apostle Paul doesn’t use confusing language either, he breaks it down so there is NO CONFUSION about what Jesus created.
Jesus created everything “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.” This is a list that encompasses all of Jesus’ inheritance we talked about in vv. 15, all of creation. It is what Jesus has rights, or privileges to.
“In heaven and on earth”, that’s pretty self explanatory, both the sky and our planet, near and far Jesus inherits. Here on Earth and everything above, the whole of the universe. The stars and the planets. He created and inherits all nations across the earth. Not just the Land of Israel, but Jesus death claims all nations as His inheritance.
“Visible and invisible” is both tangible and intangible things, so like a rock is visible, but it’s weight is invisible. He inherits invisible measures, as well as other things. Emotions and Laws, like love and physics. Jesus has rights to your emotions, your knowledge and wisdom. Jesus created and inherits all that and more.
Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 10:14
- … Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Think about that, heaven and the heaven of heavens.
Matt Chandler wrote in the book The Explicit Gospel,
“According to the scriptures, every sky on every planet in every solar system in every corner of the universe belongs to God. He is the Owner and Creator of them all and sovereign over them all.”
That is a vast visible and invisible empire that Jesus created and is privileged to.
“Thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities”, that’s positions of hierarchy in heaven and on Earth.
The rule over an area or people, the rulers themselves, and their authority over others, the laws of the universe, the law of God, and the laws of man. The rule over the earthly realm of mankind and the spiritual realm, material and immaterial.
Jesus is God over the angels just as much as he is God over man. That list outlined in v. 16 isn’t just what we think of everything, like physical things. Jesus is privileged to the things we see and the things we don’t. His right extends to the rule of all creation. Nothing else is in charge over creation, not angels, demons, spirits, or man. In all areas, Jesus owns everything.
His inheritance is not only our physical belongings, and everything in our domain, but in His domain as well. Jesus’ inheritance is ALL OF CREATION.
This had to shock the church at Colossae just as much because they held angels as high as Jesus. Yet they didn’t see Jesus as Lord God Most High.
Their thought was influenced by the surrounding cultures. Roman, Egyptian, and other religions had their multiple gods, with all their demi-gods, and the god’s in charge of this and that and everything. Colossae had blended or meshed all that together to make Jesus fit their definition of what should be glorified.
But Jesus isn’t:
- A created man
- A created angel
- A lower or demi-god
- Or even a combination of those
Jesus is the Most High God, the One who brought the plagues on Egypt. When He did that, He was proving to pharaoh that Yahweh God is in charge of not just one thing, like the Egyptian gods of water, life and death, the earth and the sun. Jesus was showing that He is the real God in charge of everything, including the angels. Jesus is Lord God Most High over everything and His dominion extends over all other dominions of creation. His sovereign rule over all of His creation lets us know that creation wasn’t to be glorified, but Jesus above all is to be glorified.
The Colossians needed to read this passage. Paul says: “all things were created … for him (Jesus)” Which includes the church as well. It might seems obvious to us that the Church was created by and for and through Jesus, which v. 18 says,
- 18a And he is the head of the body, the church… (ESV)
But to Colossae, they didn’t have Jesus as Head over it all. The meaning to church, to life, to everything is to put Jesus above it all, the first priority. Paul was telling them that the purpose everybody is here is for Jesus! The purpose for the Church is Jesus. The purpose of everything is to Glorify Jesus as God.
It’s easy to see why all these practices make sense to different people though, even today. Many people will read their wacky beliefs into and distort the Bible. They don’t view Jesus with the aspects He is due, the right to everything He has. They miss the point.. You want Jesus, not some spiced up Jesus that isn’t even recognizable as the God He is.
I know an older lady who’s done drugs her whole life to get to a higher state. It’s called transcendental meditation. She thinks by reaching this higher state she can be with God and gain a better insight. She’s into astrology, eastern meditation, tarot, palm reading, numerology.
She’s said to me that, “Astrology is in the Bible.” Well, yeah it is, astrology and astronomy is in the Bible, and it’s what led the wise men to Jesus. Using the stars to guide your way to a Savior is a far cry from planning your life according to them.
Emptying your mind is useless because you need to fill your mind with Jesus.
A constant conversation I have with her is that everything is created for Jesus, and when we focus on the creation rather than the creator, you don’t see the true purpose of the creation.Notice that the occult practices aren’t the end all that give you knowledge of Jesus, that they are condemned as divination, abominations, and following other gods that aren’t Jesus. When we know we are here for Jesus, Lord over all that we hold dear and close—visible and invisible, earthly and spiritual—that is how to glorify Him and enjoy Him.
Man’s ultimate purpose is to glorify god and enjoy Him forever. So giving up our problems and issues to God and giving Him our full attention is the path to ultimate enjoyment. I would challenge each of you to remind yourself of the things you hold onto and let it go. That emotion of anger, or jealousy, or anxiety, or whatever it is. Give it up and enjoy God as much as you can, glorify Jesus as best you can. Give up that self righteous attitude, depression, or laziness, because it belongs to God. Stop listening to the lies that your sinful heart is telling you, the lies that you believe, and give everything to Jesus. I am praying for you because Jesus will give you rest from the standards you hold over yourself. Jesus created everything and holding on to it denies Him His inheritance which is:
- 16 … heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
The final aspect is that
Jesus holds everything together.
- 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
All of creation, everything the Apostle Paul is writing about, ALL OF THAT IS HELD TOGETHER BY JESUS. And in Him all things hold together…
Jesus holds creation together. Creation is set up so precisely—perfectly just so—because He willed it to be. It is the very essence of Jesus to bring order and hold everything together, because without Him there is no creation to begin with. The idea of order is His right. So we could say the absence of Jesus is chaos. Without Him, there is no creation of order. Everything is intrinsically bound together by His will. Salvation, redemption of sins, creation, the universe are all held together and bound by Jesus. He didn’t create all the cosmos and all of the material and spiritual realms, things, theories, thoughts, and beings and then walk away just to stand back and watch. “Peace out everybody, handle it yourselves.” That’s the idea of deism, that God made everything, determined everything, and set the paths in the direction He wanted, then stepped back, didn’t and doesn’t interfere, and waits for the results. Deism says God is impersonal and independent, apart from creation.
Yet some Christians believe this. They can’t fathom that Jesus is not only in control of everything, but brings order to it and directs it, He governs it and brings order to the chaos. Jesus bringing order to chaos and holding creation together is not a new idea that Paul is introducing. This is an aspect of God that has been since the beginning.
The ancient cultures believed the ocean and seas was chaotic and dangerous, formless and void. They often used oceans and seas as metaphors for chaos. They even used the idea of sea serpents and beasts as an image for the chaos and the danger of the ocean. So it is no surprise that God is shown in the Bible as being in control over the seas.
- In Genesis 1:2 the spirit of God was over the chaotic sea.
- In Genesis 8:1 the spirit of God caused the waters of the sea to recede after the flood.
- And in Mark 4 and Matthew 8 Jesus calms the storm with His word.
Just as Jesus created the world with His Word, Jesus orders creation to obey by His Word. He holds it all together because Jesus is God. Paul is setting the picture for the Colossians to understand that it is Jesus in those events. Jesus brings order to chaos by holding everything together. And this isn’t some new concept brought about by Judaism or Christianity…
In the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation epic, it says:
- When the sky above was not named,And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,And the primeval Apsû, who begat them, And chaos, Tiamat, the mother of them both,Their waters were mingled together And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen; When of the gods none had been called into being.
The epic goes on to describe a battle between the gods, some die and that creates other gods. There is a constant struggle between the gods, who reside in the waters of Tiamat. The struggle makes so much noise that it annoys the high gods and the young gods are killed, their bodies creating the land apart from the sea. But chaos continues, started by the gods…
This is called Chaoskamph — the study of creation mythology and legends and the struggle between gods — and points to key similarities in all of the world’s great religions, of which all come back to chaos. But notice what Christianity says about chaos and Jesus. Chaos is brought on by man not God. Jesus fixes that because Jesus brings order to Chaos. He is the the Head of Creation and order comes from His Word. Genesis 1:1-3 says
- In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
The Word of Jesus begins creation with order. From the seas of chaos, Jesus brings order. He brings light. With light, you can see and you have direction.
- 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 ESV)
Jesus brought order in creation, He did it after the flood, He did it when He died for you and brought the nations under His control. Jesus even has order over the heavenly or spiritual realm. Jesus repeatedly orders demons out of people in the gospel, they fear Him as Lord, and know he can vanquish them to eternal darkness and separation in chains of damnation. Jesus is holding down the fort, He is in control of His kingdom.
And Jesus has been holding it down for thousands of years. Since creation to the present, Jesus has been holding the Church together with His will because the Church exists for Him. And in Revelation, when we read about the new heavens and the new earth, it will be only this. Revelation 21:1 says the seas will be no more.
There will be no chaos, only Jesus. Every day all over the world, there are all kinds of people in all walks of life coming together to glorify Jesus and make Jesus the priority, because they are held together by Him. Through grace they are brought out of chaos by the Spirit and placed into the order of His Church. Did you ever wonder how such a diverse group of people get along? Because we are all held together by Jesus apart from chaos. His gift of grace has brought us together and it’s through that grace that others are brought in. Being part of Jesus’ body, the Church, means we work together to further the mission and vision of God. We are on God’s team, it’s what we proclaimed when we are baptized into a body of believers, we are going to continue to proclaim victory over death with Jesus.
What are we supposed to do then?
Love God, love mankind like God loves us, which is what Jesus did, and go and tell everybody about it. Teach others about Jesus and train them to do the same, and continue to follow them and find more people. All the while grow closer to Jesus, enjoy Him and His order.
- Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20 ESV
Be a disciple, make disciples, and continue to grow in the Kingdom as Jesus grows the Kingdom. Step in that direction and be part of disciple making. It’s what Jesus tells us to do. And don’t be worried you aren’t doing it right. That’s fine, because He is part of it, Jesus holds disciple making together by His will because He created it.
Because …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, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Our text ends in v.18 which we touched on, but is the great Hope of the Church in what Paul is writing to Colossae…
Jesus is the Head of the Church, the body. He brings order to the Church, like a brain is in control of the body, because Jesus is the brain of the Church. He directs it, he holds us, the church along with all creation, together because He loves us. It’s that love and direction that gives us hope. We aren’t alone, there is a God in control who loves us.
Paul says in another letter, in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 4-6.
- But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (ESV)
God who is the creator, the firstborn, and has the rights to life and death makes us alive in the perfection that is Jesus. Jesus holds the deed to our life in eternity and Jesus alone is the God-man that can raise us to the heavenly places with Him. Salvation is held by Jesus.
All of the Wisdom and Truth of God and His creation are bound together and embodied in Jesus. We don’t need to seek out a deeper hidden meaning for life if we have Him, all you need is the gift He gives, redemption of sins debt on our lives.
There is nothing else but His blood that can pay this. All of our hope and our salvation is held by Jesus. He is the way, and the truth, and the life. He is the Head and leader of the Church, because it is His church. It is so much bigger than Sonrise Church in the Antelope Valley, it’s so much bigger than a small patch of land in the middle east. It’s bigger than the whole of the Land promised to Abraham.
Jesus wants the whole world, because it’s His, and when we participate in the Great Commandments and the Great Commission, we reclaim with Him what is rightfully His. You are set free from death in Jesus, and in Jesus we are heirs with Him, we inherit the whole world with Jesus.
Listen to what Paul says in Romans…
- The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
(Romans 8:16-19 ESV)
We are to be revealed to creation as fellow heirs with Christ. Let Him hold you together, you don’t need anything else, just follow Jesus. We are the church ordered to reign with Him over Creation as the sons of God reclaiming what is rightfully Jesus’.
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