Colossians #3: Col 1:15-20

 

Colossians 3: Col 1:15-20 (MSG)

 


Welcome to session 3 in our study of the letter the Apostle Paul wrote to Christians in the city of Colossae.  We know that all of Paul’s letters address various issues that poised a potential problem for people seeking to live their lives to the full through faith in Jesus Christ.  The Message is the good news of the gospel that proclaims that God sent His Son to be atonement for our sins, sins that caused and propagate an estrangement between Him and all of humanity.  It is by faith in Jesus' sacrificial death that reconciliation is found through the forgiveness of sins and adoption into God’s family. 

 Estrangement causes relationships to be messed up.  Everything rises and falls on relationships.  When relationships are good, life is good.  But when they are sour, your entire world hurts.  Sin causes good relationships to go bad.  Think of a bad relationship as a revelation of sin causing problems in your life.  The Bible explains that the desire for self-rule, to be like God, caused humanity’s representative to sin against God, which created individual estrangement for everyone.  We call this original sin.  Then there are the things that we do that deter, damage, or destroy good relationships either by commission or omission. We call these personal sins.  Sin wages war against relationships.  A chain reaction of wrongly relating has created every human mess we see today.  We can’t relate rightly to God, to others, to our very selves because of sin.  Jesus dies to forgive sin, reconcile us to God and empower us to create and thrive in righteous relationships.   God’s master plan involves your acknowledgment of your sin problem, your belief that Jesus is the solution to your sin problem, your commitment to be a disciple of Jesus, and your desire to be saved, to be made right with God.   Be encouraged to do a little self-examination, see if there is a sin problem that you need to deal with.  If so it’s a good day to seek out God for His help.  Ask Him to show you the way, the truth, the life.   If you do so or need help to do so, please let me know.

 Who exactly is Jesus?  Sagely wisdom says that familiarity breeds contempt.  Sometimes we can take what is most precious and get so used to it that we forget the treasure we have.  In these next verses, Paul will remind us who Jesus is, because there are many competing ideas.    In the Christian faith, we believe in one God.  There is only one God, Father, Son, and Spirit.  This has always been an intellectual stumbling block, how three can be one and one can be three while still being one is hard to grasp. Nothing in nature exists this way so we have nothing to compare the Triune God to. The question of the nature of Jesus eventually lead to the doctrine of the Trinity, the God that exists as One in Three and Three in One.  Before this teaching was formulated Paul is going to answer the questions: Who is Jesus? What is Jesus?

 The answer to the nature of Jesus is a question that still lingers in the minds of many today. First, was there ever a man named Jesus?  The proper historical answer is no, there was a man named Yeshua bar Yosef of Nazareth, but Jesus is a translation of the Hebrew, to the Greek, to the English.  Ok with that out of the way was there a man named Jesus to which Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John attest?  The answer to that is a resounding “yes.”  Such a man lived.  Second, was Jesus a great teacher, a reformer, a revolutionary, a prophet, a man like any other human but anointed by God to perform a task, or was Jesus something more?  Paul is going to argue for something more.

 Colossians 1:15-20 (MSG)

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

 He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding.  Not only that but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross.

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That’s a head full and it is meant to be.  There were some sophisticated thinkers in the congregation.  Was Jesus a phantom, an angel, a prophet, a teacher, just a man, an emanation of God?   Paul magnificently answers the question. 

When asked “Who is this Jesus?” Paul answers that when you examine the character, the intent, and the behavior of Jesus you gain an understanding of what God is like because Jesus is God.  This revelation updates all other visions of God. You can’t see the Father, if I were a scientist I might say God’s physicality is interdimensional, which I think the scripture means when Jesus declares that God is spirit (John 4:24).  But when you walk with Jesus, you know that this is what God is like.  Jesus manifests the attributes of God because that is who Jesus is.   It is in Jesus that God can be known.  The invisible God self-reveals in Jesus.

 “We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created.” When you examine the Son you see God’s master plan.  We see in Jesus' divinity and humanity existing in peace.  Divinity and Humanity united, no longer estranged.  In Jesus, we see what is meant when we say God and we see what is meant when we say human.  In Jesus is a picture of the Garden before the fall.  Jesus prays for us.

John 17:20-23 (NIV)

“… I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity…”

 This unity is a present reality in those who believe. As we mature we actualize more of this unity.  Are you partnering with Jesus?  As you do, you grow up, grow deep and the fruit you grow tastes like unity, harmony, intimacy, oneness, and love.  That’s yours.  Self-surrender is the path, not a one-time event, but many surrenders as God manifests in your life.

 The culture in Colossae held angels in high esteem.  Maybe Jesus was an angel? Paul answers Jesus is the conduit through which everything came into existence.  He is not an angel, he is the creator of angels.  Paul corrects another popular thought embedded in Greek culture.  This thought was that creation was the work of some lesser being.  God would not sully Himself by creating anything material.  The World and everything in it, the universe, all science has uncovered,

 is material.  All matter is inherently evil.  God could not do evil, therefore some lessor being hostile to God created the material planes of existence.  This of course is part of Gnosticism well-rooted in the culture.  No wonder some people choked at the idea that God would incarnate, put flesh on, become human.  Paul says this is exactly the case.  Everything in existence has Jesus as its origin.

 We sang “What a friend we have in Jesus,” a great old hymn of the Church.  Contemplate this fact, the one who created everything calls you friend (John 15:15.  You’ve got VIP access. 

 When some folks hear that Jesus is the source of all things and nothing exists that He did not create will be quick to say, “Well, what about Satan, demons, hell, and evil in the world?”  For God to carry out His master plan every sentient being had to have free will, the ability to choose to stay in a right relationship with God or to leave it.  Love demands this kind of freedom.  It’s not love if it’s forced or coerced.  When choices are made that are contrary to God’s will problems occur.  Have you ever tried to put together a complicated piece of machinery or some new tech or some child’s toy, without referring to the instruction manual?  The result is often “It doesn’t’ work and what do I do with these extra parts is often the result.”  When we choose other than God’s will, problems occur, we call that sin by the way.   Are you partnering with Jesus to bring heaven to earth through your obedience? It’s your choice, God does not control your choices.  You must decide to live up to the calling that has been bestowed upon you.

 Paul affirms that Jesus is preeminent and also that it is in Him that humanity finds purpose.  That purpose is to love and be loved.  Love created the universe, love sustains the universe, and in loving, we find what we have been made for, in loving we find our meaning.  Love is the foundation of order and harmony.  The followers of Jesus are expected to love on people (John 13:35).  When you are kind, graceful, forgiving, helping, you are walking with Jesus (1 John 1:5).  Your choice to love opens the doors for God to bless.

Paul tells us that Jesus is Creator and that Jesus is the sustainer. Verse 17:  “He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.” Jesus is not a created being, not an emanation of God (a Platonic thought), which would have been a cultural popular way of thinking of Him. Jesus is present before the beginning.  It is Jesus who holds creation in order.  [[(Wisdom Pr 2&8, Word (Logos) find their incarnation in Christ.  Question:  Does Ruach, the Spirit of God find incarnation in Christ also?) ]] “'For in him we live and move and have our being'” (Acts 17:28 (NIV).  Jesus is the power that holds creation together, He is the sustainer of all things (Barclay).  Jesus is with you all the time, for He is within you, not as a judge, but as encourager and advocate, as the one who empowers you (1 John 2:1-2).  Consider that when you willfully choose not to do God’s will not only do bad things happen, but your emotions tank, you feel bad, the reason why just might be because of the tears of Jesus inside you.

 Paul tells us that Jesus is not somewhere beyond, he is joined to those who believe as a head is joined to the body.   “And when it comes to the church, Jesus created the church, the called-out ones.  He organizes and holds it together like a head does a body” (verse 18).  When you allow Jesus to be the brains of your organization, Jesus uses you to be a conduit of blessings to others, which also becomes a blessing to you.  Through your doing, Jesus continues to His mission to set all things right.  What is the head urging you to do?

 Paul has told us that there is no creation without Jesus.  In the Revelation of Jesus given to the Apostle John, Jesus is speaking when and says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13).  We should add “everything in between.”  Paul quickly moves from thoughts of creation to thoughts of redemption, of reconciliation.  Verse 18B:  “He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone.”

 We should note that to “lead the resurrection parade” one has to be human and as a human has to die:  Dead and gone, stone-cold, toes up, farm bought, pushing daisies.  Then there is a resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:13-15).  The resurrection is Divine proof that Jesus is exactly what He claimed to be, “one with the Father” (John 10:30), completely human (Galatians 4:4), and completely Divine, totally God, and totally man.  Jesus is not a dead hero, He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25, 10:10); the risen Savior. Through faith, you can experience the resurrected Jesus, for He is a living person.  To make this a reality for yourself you need to practice the 7 habits of a disciple:  Bible study, prayer, fellowship, service, worship, obedience, and contemplation, this is because during these types of activities God speaks to you.  Not only can you intimately know Jesus, He promises that those who know Him, will also be resurrected.  Don’t take this for granted, stick close to Jesus.

 There is so much more to Jesus than an intellectual acknowledgment and a prayer.  He is the one who redeems your life from death, and one day, gives you the hope, that everything will make sense.  Verse 19:  “So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. 20 Not only that but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross.

 When the consummation of the Kingdom comes the scripture reveals “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”

(Phil 2:10-11 (NIV).  The second coming brings the Garden in Eden, righteousness, being rightly related, in harmony, fitting together becomes the way we will live.  Everything will be fixed and fitted, the price for this total makeover has been paid in blood, the blood of this same Jesus who is God in the flesh.

 Who is Jesus?  Paul has answered the question.  The truth of that answer is to be pursued, to be enjoyed, to be the strength of your life.  Don’t let religion replace relationship.  Don’t let familiarity devalue that relationship, don’t take Jesus for granted.  He is your precious treasure, act like it, value your relationship with Jesus.

 On little surprise for you—scholars believe that verses 15 through 20 are actually a song sung in Paul’s day.  Go make your own music to glorify God.

 

 


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