The First Born: Christ
Who is this Jesus Christ? Normally, we think of the birth narratives this time of year, but I’d like you to think a little bit deeper and to think about who this incomparable Christ is. Let’s look to Colossians, Chapter one, verses 15 and following.
We’ve been trying to focus on the time of Christmas, the time of Christ’s birth, the timing of God entering through Mary the Virgin, fully God, fully man, Jesus being born. We’ve chosen some different passages. I’ve chosen to use some of Paul’s Christmas section if you will and I would like to use another one today out of Colossians Chapter 1.
This is very likely a hymn in the first century. Verses 13 and 14 speak of Christ rescuing us and transferring us to the Kingdom of God. We’re being rescued from our sin; from a world of sin and transferred into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son in whom we have this redemption. I want to point out seven unique characteristics about our Christ.
Christ is the image.
The image of God. Image in our text is the word icon. Now we know a desktop icon or shortcut to a program, but in the first century the term meant more of an impress or a dye on a coin. So if you look at a quarter, a U.S. currency quarter, you have George Washington’s impress on that coin. That’s the idea; there was an impression made on that coin, a dye made the face of George on that coin. The word is an exact representation; a perfect manifestation in Jesus Christ.
One author describes Jesus as the portrait of God. I like that, but it fails in many ways. He’s not just a picture; He’s the exact representation of God. Question: What is God like? Answer: Look at Jesus Christ. What does God think? Answer: Look at Jesus Christ. Study the words and works of Jesus and you will understand what God is like, what God thinks.
But what does Jesus think? What does He do? What is He like? To understand this Christ, all we have to do is look at His words and His works, more importantly, to understand God all we have to do is look at His words and His works of His Son. In Romans 1:20, Christ has made the invisible, visible. II Corinthians 4:4 in similar fashion. Same word, the icon of God. The exact representation of God. Christ the invisible, has become visible for what God has done. He is the perfect image, the perfect nature of God. It was clearly seen, but it was invisible.
When we look at nature sometimes, we say we see God in nature. We don’t want to be pantheistic and worship God through nature. We don’t hug a tree or pray to a rock. But when you look at nature, you see evidence of a creator. Jesus Christ is the image of God and He has taken what was invisible and has made it visible to those who can see, who are not blind.
He’s the firstborn over creation
This does not mean He was the first person ever created. This means that He has always existed. He is the preeminent. He has the first place as the Creator. Christ was first there when Adam was made in the image of God, talked many times, the Adam, (pronounced in Hebrew) is a wordplay. The dirt was made into Adam. So God in Jesus Christ fashioned the sandman and breathes the breath of life and he becomes an animate being. He’s the image bearer of Christ. He’s the image of God. In fact, John Francis Wade, 1740ish wrote a very wonderful Christmas song we all love to sing, Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him, the adoration, the advent of Jesus.
He wasn’t created. He’s always existed and He entered time in a unique time. Galatians 4:4 Under the law born of a virgin. To be the firstborn is of course to have special rank. It would be common for Judaism to understand the privilege of the firstborn. The rites that fall for the firstborn. Now, of course, we want to be careful today in our politically correct world, self esteem worshiping culture, and so on and so forth but there’s something about the firstborn. So Christ eternally existing will humble Himself to be born of a virgin emptying Himself, to become our Saviour. He is the very being and very nature of God.
He’s the Creator
I want you to notice the prepositional phrases. This is not complex grammar. It’s easy to see. These are like little yellow flags as you read your Bible. You’ll see by Him, through Him, for Him, in Him. Most of your translations will say in Him, through Him, for Him, in Him. The prepositions is just that, for, of, because, for, in, with; those phrases carry us along in language usually explaining, expanding something.
First of all, by Him, all things were created. Notice the list: in the heavens and the earth, so that is the universe. Secondly, the visible and invisible, the material and the immaterial. That’s what we can’t see and we can see. Thirdly, thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities. This one gets some intrigue because this has to do with the angelic spiritual realm that Scripture teaches is there, but we don’t have a lot of specific data on what’s going on.
Fascination with the wrong things
We have a lot of information about angels, elect and evil, but the angelic realm is shrouded in mystery for good reason. But Paul here through God’s Spirit is telling us Christ is the Creator, by Him, He created that angelic realm. He created the thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities. He existed before the angels existed, before these spiritual realms that we can’t see and He was the one who created them.
Now the Colossians were taken, if you read the book of Colossians. They were taken with the angelic spiritual realm. That was their hot topic. That was their popular thing. If you have not trusted in Christ, and Christ alone for your salvation, there is no good ending. Put your Biblical ears and eyes on when you listen and read these things. But we’re intrigued by thrones, and dominions, and rulers, and what’s out there. What Paul, and what I want you to see is, Jesus created that realm. He’s bigger than what we can imagine.
So while all the trappings of Christmas might distract us or even discourage us, I hope you’ll remember who this Jesus is, that you’ll see that, He’s bigger than we have ever imagined as the firstborn of creation. Join us next time as we continue Colossians, Chapter 1, vs 15-20. The Time of the Firstborn.