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Second Sunday before Lent

2nd Sunday before Lent

Colossians 1 15-20

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Some years ago in America, a panel of 28 educators and historians asked university students to select the hundred most significant events of history, then list those events in order of importance. In first place they considered the most significant event was the discovery of America. In second place was the invention of movable type. Eleven events tied for third place, and five events tied for fourth place. They were the Constitution, the development of ether, the discovery of x-ray, the airplane, and the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus tied for fourth place.  This begs the question: where does Jesus Christ rank in our lives? Is He the first one we think about when we are at home, in our choices for entertainment, how we spend our time, how  treat our wives, husbands, children,  parents, friends and  co-workers? Is He first when we think about the way we use our finances? In our thoughts, dreams for the future, in the friends we choose? Are all our relationships based on the fact that Jesus Christ is first in our life?  I would suggest we need to prayerfully go back over the list and see if there any adjustments to be made.

The passage from Colossians is the single most heavily saturated, piece of literature on the person of Jesus Christ that we have. It is the most Christ-centered passage in Scripture, and could be called

‘A poem or hymn in Praise to Jesus Christ.’

The first half of this part of  Paul’s letter to the Colossians can be summarized in nine words: Jesus made it all then Jesus paid it all.

Jesus Made it All. Paul wrote the letter around  60-65AD  whilst in prison probably in Rome, and assumes that the reader is familiar with the opening lines of the first book of the Bible, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Also the second chapter of Genesis which  states that “on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done” (Gen. 2:2). The creation of all that exists was work, even for God. Paul tells us that Christ was present at the creation and that God’s work in creation is Christ’s work: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col. 1:15–17) Hang on a minute, you might be thinking,  the Genesis text doesn’t mention Jesus, only God and here is Paul attributing all of creation to Jesus, a theme we also find in the Gospel of John (1:1–4). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. Although the word Jesus does not appear in the text it is clear that the three persons of the Trinity were at the beginning of creation, so as Paul indicates Jesus made it all .

Jesus Paid it All Paul goes on to make clear to his readers that Jesus was not only the agent who created all that exists, but he is also the agent of our salvation: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Col. 1:19–20)

We could stop there as there is plenty of gems for us to think about, but let’s dig a bit deeper into our text. Why is Jesus Christ Supreme and why should we make Him pre-eminent in our lives?  Jesus shows what God is like. The text says he is the image of the invisible God. He made the invisible God visible for us. He is God in skin. Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”  He is the exact, perfect representation of God.  If you ever wonder if God is compassionate, sensitive to my needs, and cares about me? Look at Jesus.  He shows us the Father.  Jesus is not “an” image, but “THE” image. There is no other perfect image of God except the one you see in Jesus Christ. (Verse 16.)    He is the architect of creation “by Him all things were created” This was his idea. In an ageless, timeless chaos, the second person of the Trinity stood and called it into being. Think about the extent of His creation; everything (all things), everywhere (heaven and earth), even in every dimension (visible or invisible). Whether it be galaxies light years away or the dust mites beneath your feet.

“The “all things” includes what we can see and can’t see, whether visible but intangible, like a beam of light; or whether invisible but tangible, like a summer breeze or the heat of the sun; He did it out of nothing. The “thrones,” “dominions,” “rulers” and “powers” in verse 16 refer to the things in heaven, the hierarchy of angels.  Creation came to being through his power and ability. The apostle John wrote, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” If we look at the sheer size of the universe that we have discovered so far, it is mind-boggling! If we could bore a hole in the sun and start putting earths into it, we could put one million, two hundred thousand earths in it and still have room for four million, three hundred thousand moons. The sun is inconceivably massive and it is 93 million miles away from earth. If that wasn’t enough the nearest star to the earth is Alpha Centuri, and that is five times bigger than the sun.  When we look at the other planets in the galaxy that are known to us many of them are millions of miles away all we can say is WOW! What a creation, what a creator and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what else is out in space. As we grapple with this information Paul says and he ‘holds it all together.’Jesus is the atomic glue of the universe. The verb “hold together” is in the present tense meaning Jesus is continually holding the universe together. If at any moment, He decided to “let go,” everything would fall apart. Every heartbeat, every rustle of a blade of grass, every planet’s orbit, every star in its course, every breath that we breathe is sustained by Jesus Christ.  If the earth's rotation slowed down or speeded up we would alternately freeze or  burn? The earth is tilted at an exact angle of 23 degrees which enables us to have four seasons. If the moon didn't remain at the exact precise distance it is from the earth, the ocean tide would flood the land twice a day.  It gives a whole new meaning to the song ‘He has the whole world in his hands..

This are all interesting facts, but what about us, where do we fit in with this creation thing?  Firstly every one of us is privileged to participate in God's creative and redemptive work on earth. How? We have been created in God's image to be Jesus’ representatives here on earth, to spread the good news of the Gospel, and on the final judgement day, we will be called a good and faithful servant because of the gift of forgiveness, reconciliation and salvation we have through Christ. Secondly if Jesus Christ is the divine glue of the universe, holding everything together, how much more does he sustain our lives? Jesus is ruler of the Creation and Creation knows this and responds. Remember when Jesus was in the boat during the storm? He rose up and rebuked the wind and it was silent. Creation knows the Creator and responds to Him.  How about us? Do we know His voice, and do we respond to Him?

My prayer for us all is that this reflection has given us a glimpse of the creation that God in Jesus holds in his hands and  has lifted the veil from our eyes to see Jesus afresh.  I pray that He will be number one in our list of priorities and not slip to number four or worse and that we will be willing to re-dedicate our lives to Him for His glory, for he not only reconciled us to God by making peace by the shedding of his blood on the cross, He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and He is Lord.