What do you believe about Jesus? That is the most important question you’ll ever have to answer. Remember what Jesus told Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). What do you believe about the identity of Jesus Christ? Who is he? Is Jesus a mythical character or a historical figure? Is he a created being or is he the Creator? Is he a teacher of truth or the author of truth? Is he a way to Heaven or the only way to Heaven? We can only know who Jesus is by reading the Bible, God’s revealed Word. Otherwise, we have a pretend Jesus who can be anything our imagination wants him to be. According to the Bible, the second half of the previously asked questions are the ones that are true. Jesus is the only Son of God, born of a virgin, who died for our sins and was raised bodily from the dead. In Colossians 1:15-23 Paul shows us who Jesus is.
Creator and Sustainer
“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 1:15-17). Jesus is God in the flesh. The word image means the exact representation of God. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. In John 14:9 Jesus said, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” It is in Jesus that we see perfectly God’s compassion, forgiveness, patience, and grace. The word firstborn means “of utmost importance.” David was the youngest son of Jesse, but God said, “And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:27). He was the most important child because he became the king. Jesus is called the firstborn of creation because he is the most important figure in creation.
Colossians 1:16 teaches us that Jesus is the creative word of God, the one through whom all things were created. In the Genesis account of creation “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image’” (1:26). That’s why when Jesus became flesh he frequently demonstrated power over his creation. Demons obeyed him because he created the angels before they fell. He cursed a fig tree and it withered because he made it. The universe was not created primarily for you or me; it was created for God. Understanding that principle transforms our attitude. The world doesn’t revolve around me. I am here not for me, but to glorify God. Ephesians 1:21 says that Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
Not only did he create all things, Jesus is also the sustainer of all things. Look again at Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Christ is the glue that holds all things together.
Head of the Church
The church is Christ’s body and he is the head of that body. “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (vv. 18-20).
Jesus is head of the church. Head means “source.” The church is not ours; it is Christ’s. Why? The first reason is that he is God in the flesh. That makes him over all. Verse 19 says, “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.” The second reason Jesus is the head of the church is that he purchased the church with his own blood. Acts 20:28 says, “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” The third reason Jesus is the head of the church is because he rose from the dead, proving his superiority and confirming his lordship.
Savior of the World
Not only did Jesus come to save the world, he came to be your personal Savior. Colossians 1:21-23 puts it this way. “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
At one time we were alienated from God. As sinners we may have been sincere, religious, spiritual, and even moral; but we were still at war with God. God is perfect and holy and cannot tolerate sin. So God took the initiative for reconciliation. According to Paul even Jesus’ incarnation couldn’t reconcile us. It was only through his sacrificial death, “making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (v. 20), that we have been reconciled. Through Christ we are transformed from lost to saved.
Lord of All
Jesus is Lord of all. “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (v. 18). In everything Jesus is to have the supremacy. Sadly, I don’t always allow him supremacy in my life. Do you struggle with that? Does your family come first, your job, or even church? Or does Jesus Christ reign supreme in your life? It has been said if Jesus Christ is not Lord of all, then he cannot be Lord at all. We can’t have it both ways.
Paul affirmed, “This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant” (v. 23). Paul considered himself a servant of Jesus Christ. And when you come to Jesus Christ you say, “Lord, here’s my intellectual pride. Here are all my status symbols. Here’s the rebellious spirit of my heart. I lay it all down for you. You are my Lord. Not my will anymore; but yours be done.”
Matthew Sullivan has served as the preacher of Shoals Christian Church in Shoals, Indiana for 16 years. He and his wife, Tina, have four sons. Matthew also teaches for the Christian Institute for Biblical Studies and online for Johnson University.