It’s the third week in our series on the letter to the Colossians, and today we’re tackling the end of chapter one. Colossians is such a massive book – you could write a sermon on any of the verses – but there is so much packed into the first chapter, that we wanted to take a few weeks to cover it. You can catch up on our first two posts here and here; and the passage that we’re going to be diving into today is Colossians 1:15-28.
The letter to the Colossians is an encouragement from Paul, who is writing from a prison cell many miles away: he has heard about the faith of the believers in a new church, and he is writing to encourage them to not give up on their faith. So far in chapter one, Paul has described the amazing life that is available to those who believe, and talked about how he prays for them constantly – Paul is on their side, and he is cheering them on. And then, Paul goes on to talk about the One who this life is actually all about:
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 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. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” Colossians 1:16
Like I said – any verse in Colossians could be a sermon in itself: there is so much that we can learn about Jesus in those few words. But that’s the point – that’s why Paul put these words, right at the beginning of the letter: Jesus is the whole point – there is more to Him than we could ever fathom or understand, but this life with God is about chasing after Him. We can’t get to God without Jesus – he said that nobody gets to the Father except through Him: the whole point of this life with God is that we might fall in love with the Son. Paul points the Colossians to Jesus at the beginning to his letter to them, because without that knowledge of Him, they couldn’t understand anything else that he would go on to tell them. There wouldn’t be any point in him giving them any guidance, without him knowing that they knew and loved the One that they were being drawn into obedience to.
Our walk with God should be a journey of falling more and more in love with Jesus: that’s all there is to it. When we seek Him, we find Him; and when we find Him, we learn to love Him all the more. Mature faith is simply a faith that is so anchored in Him that it cannot be torn away by the distractions of the world.
So, here are some of the things that we can learn from Paul’s words about this beautiful saviour that we have:
He is the image of the invisible God:
We can’t see the Father, who doesn’t have a physical body – but this is why Jesus was sent: everything that the Father is, is wrapped up in the person that Jesus is: we just have to look at Him to see all of be beauty of the God that we cannot see. The same truth is echoed in Hebrews 1:3: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” – when we look at the kindness, goodness, loveliness, beauty of Jesus, we are seeing the kindness, goodness, loveliness, and beauty of God: and in these things, He glorifies the Father. To know what God is like and just how much He loves you and cares for you, you need only to look at Jesus.
All things have been created through Him:
The word translated as “through” here means the means or instrument by which anything is effected – “the one who is the author of the action as well as the instrument”. In other ones, Jesus was there, right at the beginning of creation, and He had a part to play in the creation of everything – including you. He isn’t just a man who popped up 2000 years ago – He is a part of the trinity, part of God, who was there before anything else existed, and it was through him that the whole universe came into being.
He was there when you were an idea in God’s mind, He saw you being knit together in your mother’s womb, and He has been there for the long haul with you. As Paul goes on to say: he was before all things, and in Him all things hold together – He holds the universe together, He holds the earth together, and He holds you.
All things have been created for Him:
This is the part of the verse that I’ve glazed over before, thinking it means the same as the words before, part of the same sentiment – but this really stuck out to me recently. I was running down the river in Cambridge, which is a beautiful sight: sun streaming through the bright green branches, gentle waves lapping, feet crunching on the soft ground as you run. I was squinting into the sun, watching the rowers row down the river in the sunshine, and then those words popped into my mind: all of this was created for Him.
The beauty of creation is one of the things that really draws me closer to God – but what I love about that is that it isn’t even for me – it’s for Him. All of the beauty on this earth – all of the mountaintops and the sunny days and the green of the leaves – it was all brought together for Him to enjoy: we just get the privilege of sharing it with Him.
The point that Paul is getting at here, is that without Jesus, nothing in this world makes sense. It was all brought together with Him, and through Him, and for Him: he was there at the beginning, and He is still holding it all together.
To get closer to the Father, we need only to fall more in love with Jesus; and to do this, we need only to see the abundance of the love that He has for us. It’s all about Him – and seeing that will sustain us more than any other human wisdom or understanding can.
It’s all about Jesus.