Who is Jesus? That would seem like a rather easy question to answer, but it all depends on where you are at and what is seeking to distract you. In last week’s lesson we focused on the need to give thanks to the Father “who has qualified us,” delivering us “from the power of darkness” and bringing us “into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). For it is through His sacrifice, the shedding of His blood, that redemption is found, and forgiveness is realized (Colossians 1:14). Paul is earnestly seeking to remind them of just who Jesus is, and with good reason. He writes, “Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head…” (Colossians 2:18-19). From Gnosticism which would elevate and personify wisdom above Christ, to the experiential ideas of celestial beings that would seek to do the same, these early Christians needed to be reminded of who Jesus is in order to fight against such seemingly spiritual things that are merely worldly in nature.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Remember what Paul is doing, he is confronting the false teachers. The Jewish influences of their time taught that “wisdom is the breath of the power of God, and a pure stream from the glory of the Most High-the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His goodness.” Can you sense the beginnings of Gnosticism? Paul makes this simple point: Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, or as one commentator put it, “In Christ he fixes in solid reality the floating vision of the ‘image of God’”. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus, as He relates to God Himself, is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.” John would write, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). To further this idea, Paul writes that Jesus is “the firstborn over all creation.” We could spend a great deal of time dissecting this idea, but I think one person summed it up well. He writes that Jesus “is the firstborn, heir, or Lord of the whole.” This is further discussed in the very next verse.
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.
All things were created through Him and for Him.
Remember, the Jewish influences that have evolved into some sort of Gnostic thinking, have sought to marginalize Jesus. In doing so, His lordship and dignity is being questioned by some, denied by others. So, Paul states emphatically that “all things”, with no exceptions, were created by Him; that is, Jesus Christ. F.F. Bruce writes, “Christ, then, is prior to all creation and, as the Father’s firstborn, he is heir to it all.” John would write, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” What is the point? As one person said so simply, “The one through whom the divine work of redemption has been accomplished is the one through whom the divine act of creation took place in the beginning.” That is why Paul would write, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17).
I will be up front in saying that this text is rich with thought concerning that of our Lord and Savior. I find myself still needing to glean more from it. The question for us is simple, what do we walk away with today. We are not tempted by Jewish influences or Gnosticism for that matter. Maybe not the same, but I do believe we are influenced by ever evolving wisdom of this world. It too, like times of old, seek to marginalize Jesus. Any time His redemptive work and His created work is questioned, and doubt begins to prevail, His lordship is compromised. So let me end this article with these words from Paul, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that is all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). May He always reign in our lives as Lord and Savior.