Jesus Lord of All #2 Preeminent Lord - Colossians 1:15-29
A Topic Too Great For Me to Preach or For Us to fully Comprehend
Last week we began our series from the book of Colossians with Paul’s prayer for the church at Colosse, for his brothers and sisters in the Lord that he had never met, but nevertheless prayed fervently for them. He gave thanks for their faith in the Lord, their love for one another and for the hope they had secured in heaven. He also prayed that they might be filled with knowing the Lord’s will, be fruitful in good works, and grow in their relationship with God. He prayed for them to grow strong enough to joyfully overcome in all things this world might confront them with.
Finally, he gave thanks to the Father for making all of us partakers of the inheritance of the saints of light, delivered and translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, the kingdom of the Son of God, Jesus Christ who redeemed us and forgave us by his death.
The end of the prayer in vs. 14 brings Paul to the main purpose of his epistle, to show the Preeminence of Christ, to exalt Jesus as Lord of All. That will be my focus as well this morning. I will attempt to add something to Paul’s divinely inspired words this morning. First, I have to give a disclaimer. I am not adequate to this endeavor. I am not up to the task of adding anything or expanding on the overwhelming subject of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. What can I say that would or could in any way add to the Preeminence of the Lord. Some subjects of God’s word humble me and leave me feeling utterly a failure in trying to present them. This is not false modesty, this is the reality of any human preacher of God’s Word trying to rise to the level of comprehending some things that are just too big, too great, too overwhelming or too majestic for any words or thoughts I can conjure up in a sermon.
I feel like the little boy who took a cup and dipped it in the ocean and then careful tried to pack it the family baggage for the trip back home. When his mom asked him why he wanted to try and take a pail of ocean water home. He said, “I want to show it to Grandpa so he can know what the ocean is like.” That’s kind of the way I feel this morning. I’m going to bring you a little pail of the preeminence of the Lord.
The great Texas Baptist preacher W. A. Criswell put it this way, “This is a great deep; and we stand, as it were, on the shores of a vast and illimitable sea. We hardly could explore its extremities. We are unable to plumb the unfathomable depths of the meaning and beauty of this marvelous passage. The preeminent Christ: “It pleased God the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell” – WA Criswell
And yet we must preach the preeminence of Christ. We must declare it, teach it, and let our hearts and minds dwell on it. In fact if we are the children of God then we cannot help ourselves. We cannot see anything, hear anything, know anything or think on anything except in the understanding that Christ is above all these things. He is truly Lord of Lords, the Preeminent Creator and King of Glory.
Paul begins his exaltation of Jesus in vs. 15 where he states that Christ is Lord of Creation and Lord of the Church.
Lord of Creation – Colossians 1:15-19
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; (He Is All in All)
Preeminent Person of Christ
Paul begins his praise of the preeminent Christ by stating who Christ is, the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of every creature.
By using these paradoxical terms Paul is showing us just how beyond our mortal, physical understanding Jesus truly is. He makes the invisible, visible. God, who could never be seen by the eyes of man before, can now be seen because of who Jesus is.
Paul is saying what John said in John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Jesus, God the Son came in human form and in that form He showed us the glory of God the Father that could not be seen. He is the image of the invisible God.
In this expression Paul is unmistakable saying that Jesus is God, equal to God, very God of very God. God in the flesh.
Paul also says that Jesus is the firstborn of every creature. This word firstborn is πρωτοτόκος prōtotokos; in Greek , if is translated first-born or firstbegotten but this in not conveying the idea of coming into existence at birth but of being the prototype, the first of all kinds. Yes, Jesus was the begotten son of God but He did not come into existence at birth, but rather the Creator entering into and became His own creation through birth.
Wycliffe Commentary puts it this way, “The divine Son is the archetype, the effluence of God’s glory and not, as other men, its reflection (Heb 1:3). - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary:
“It is because man “bears the image of his creator that it was possible for the Son of God to become incarnate as man and in his humanity to display the glory of the invisible God” - (FF Bruce in The Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians by E. K. Simpson and F. F. Bruce).
The Gnostic heresy said that Jesus was a created being, that he came into existence and then came into the earth by taking possession of an ordinary man and then left that ordinary man’s body in the grave. The Mormons, which is just an offshoot of Gnosticism, believes that Jesus came into existence as the physical son of God, first in heaven by one of thousands of celestial wives and then by a physical union on earth with Mary. The Jehovah Witnesses teach that Jesus was not God from eternity past but that He was merely the first created being. All those lies are counteracted by Paul’s declaration of the truth here in Colossians and in all places where in scripture speak of the person of Jesus.
The lie says Jesus come into existence, but the truth is that it was Jesus who brought all things that exist into existence as Creator.
This is what Paul says next, that by Jesus all things were created, in heaven, in earth, visible and invisible. All powers, authorities, kingdoms, nations and peoples were all created by him, and Paul adds this greater truth of who Jesus is. He says all thing were created “for” him. This means that not only is Jesus the beginning of all things but that all things end in Him. All were created by His plan and power and all were created for His purpose and pleasure.
In vs. 17 Jesus is before all things and is the sustainer of all things. He is the source of all things that exist, and therefore he precedes all things in existence and all things continue to exist only by His sustainer power.
In vs 18 Paul moves from the great unknowable universe that Jesus created and sustains down to one specific part of creation that the believers at Colosse did know and comprehend, their own church. He says, Jesus is also the head of the body, the church. Just as He is head of creation, head of all power, head of all kingdoms, he is also head of His body the church.
Paul finishes this thought by restating that Jesus is the first of creation, the first of the resurrection proving that Jesus has preeminence over all.
In vs. 20 Paul brings it all to one statement. Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; God’s plan and purpose, His pleasure, His will are culminated in all the fulness of God’s power, love, grace and judgment dwelling in Jesus. Jesus is the epitome, the summit, the height above all other heights because Jesus contains all that is God and there can be nothing higher or greater.
Preeminent in Proclamation
Do I recognize and acknowledge the preeminence of Christ? Do I acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus in my life, family and church?
Paul wrote Colossians, Philippians, and Ephesians at the same time while he was in prison and they contain many of the same truths, especially the lordship and preeminence of Jesus.
Look at Philippians 2:8-11 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Because of who Jesus is, because of what Jesus did in creation, and because of what Jesus still does in sustaining creation, we should acknowledge Him as Lord and furthermore, Proclaim Him Lord, as the centurion at the cross did when he saw Jesus die, felt the earth shake and saw the heavens turn dark, He proclaimed “truly this was the Son of God.” Proclaim “My Lord and My God.” as Thomas did when upon seeing His Savior, who had been locked in a tomb and now appeared in the middle of a locked room.
Proclaim that Christ is Preeminent, Lord above all Lords. Proclaim it because it is His rightful place and His rightful reward. He is Lord by right, He is Lord by righteousness, He is Lord by what He has wrought, and He is Lord by resurrection.
One day, one great and history changing day, all the world will know and not be able to deny the truth because on that day they will not just hear the truth but see the truth as John did in the book of Revelation.
Preeminent in Prophecy
What Paul states as a theological truth, John in Revelation records as a prophetic truth.
Revelation 19:11-16 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. -- His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Paul began his treatise on the Lordship of Jesus telling us who he is. He then continues and by telling us that Jesus is also Lord because of what He has done.
Lord of Reconciliation – Colossians 1:20-23
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Preeminent In Passion
Now Paul adds to the Lordship of Christ by telling the Colossians, Jesus is preeminent in Passion. The giving of his life, his suffering and passion brought us peace by Jesus’s blood shed on the cross. That terrible price, paid by Jesus, has brought reconciliation with God.
All of creation which had been separated from God by sin now can be reconciled and brought back to God. All things in heaven and in earth find peace and be reconciled to God by the work of Jesus as the Lord of Salvation.
Then in vs 21-22 It moves from all creation being redeemed to the believers at Colosse. Just as he did earlier, Paul moves from all of creation that can’t be fully seen or understood to something very simple and easily understood, their own souls.
He says to the Colossians, you were once alienated from God and enemies of God because of your wicked works, yet Jesus reconciled you. He brought you back into a right relationship with God. Instead being rightly punished for your sin and judged because of your sin nature, you have been forgiven. Instead of being treated like strangers and aliens from God, you are now reconciled to God as holy, unreproachable and unreprovable children the God.
To the Ephesians in chapter 2:14–18, Paul wrote it this way, “14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
Because Jesus is Lord of salvation, the God you once did not know, the God you offended by your very nature and actions, is now your own Heavenly Father. Not only is God reconciled with us as individual but even people who were once strangers and even enemies are not brought to peace and made one with their God.
No one but the Lord of Lords could do this. No one else could accomplish something so utterly impossible, only Jesus the Lord of Reconciliation.
Preeminent In My Peace
I don’t know about you, but I hate being at odds with people. I hate the feeling that someone has something against me. That there is animosity between us. Especially if they are a friend or even worse a family member. Someone that you know cares for you but there is a gulf of enmity between you and them.
I think that is true of most people we don’t want to have enemies; we don’t want to carry grudges. We don’t want enmity we want peace. And if it upsets us to have family, friends or even acquaintances against us, then imagine how terrible it truly is to have God against us.
Some people don’t think they and God have a problem. They flippantly say things like, “I didn’t know God and me had a problem.” They will say with a smile or a maybe a sneer as if they are too big or too smart to believe such a thing. Yet the Bible, God’s own word says, they do have a problem with God a big problem.
James the brother of Jesus said, in James 4:4, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Paul in Romans said, Romans 8:6-8 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
God himself doesn’t want there to be a separation and so he sent Jesus, His son to take on human flesh and to bridge that gap by shedding his blood and dying on that cross. That is the work of reconciliation.
Hebrews 2:16-17 “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
This great work our Lord did, this great gift our God gave that he might bring us back to Himself to be his children, his family, to have our sins forgiven and to have heaven as our eternal home.
Can you imagine refusing it, can you imagine rejecting such a gift, such a sacrifice. Can you imagine willing staying an enemy with God. And yet so many choose exactly that.
After Paul tells us of the greatness of God the Son, the preeminence of the Prince of Peace, the Lordship of the Lord of Lord, he then in vs. 23 brings all this theological truth down to a personal truth. “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;”
Because of the Lordship Jesus Christ, Paul is made a minister, a servant of his Lord.
Lord of Consecration – Colossians 1:24-29
24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
Preeminent In Paul
To Paul personally, Jesus was Lord of his consecration, his submission and service to his savior. He expresses this in three ways,
First, He says he could rejoice in his suffering on their behalf. The one who had caused so many of the Lord’s churches to suffer was now suffering because he had dared to take the Gospel to them and was now awaiting trial in prison for that service. And that brought him joy.
Acts 9:3-6 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
When Paul asked, Lord, what would you have me do? It was a consecration of a servant for life to His living Lord.
He also says in vs. 24 and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church. This is strange sounding to us but what Paul is saying is that suffering for a Christian is taking on their part of Christ’s body being afflicting in this world. Paul is simply saying, “What I am going through is my lot, my portion in the suffering that all of the Lord’s churches must go through.”
This was Paul’s calling by the Lord, Back in Acts, Ananias was sent by the Lord to heal Paul’s blindness, when he expressed his hesitation because of the persecution of Saul we read in 9:15-16 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
This was Paul’s calling, to preach to and suffer for the Gospel being carried to the Gentiles. In vs 25-27 Paul gives us the goal, the purpose of his ministry, Colossians 1:25-27 “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”
Paul says this is the great mystery, this is the great truth that has now been revealed to the saints of God, this is the great wealth of heaven now given to the Gentiles. This mystery, this eternal treasure is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Paul closes this chapter by saying, “Jesus we preach, warning everyone, teaching everyone, so that we may present everyone complete in Christ. For this calling, this ministry, this purpose, I labor, I strive, empowered by His power which works in me mightily.”
You and I are not Paul, we did not see a light on the Damascus road, nor hear an audible voice from the heavens. But we did see the light of the Gospel and hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Our calling to serve the Lord may not be as dramatic as Paul’s but it is just as demanding.
If Jesus is my Lord, then I must be the His servant. Whatever road or path that service may take, I must walk it, if Jesus is Lord of my Life.
For many the Lordship of Christ is just a title, just a theological talking point. There is not reality, no repercussion in their own life of the Preeminence of Jesus. We sing You are are my All in All, but the song dies on our lips as we leave the Lord’s house.
If Jesus is Lord, then He is Lord of your life in every aspect. He is Lord of your relationships, some you must sever others you must mend. He is Lord of your family and you must raise and protect your family under His authority. He is Lord of your time, your schedule, your energy, your recreation, and your labor.
Do you remember that awesome scene in the throne room of heaven found in Revelation 4:9-11? Read what John wrote again, “And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
That is what we should be doing every day of our life, bowing the kneed and casting our crown, our life’s work, reward and purpose at the feet of our Lord, who is worthy.
Conclusion: Is He Really Lord?
Is He really Lord to me or is it just another sermon topic? Is He really Lord to me or do I think consecration does not change me or that commitment does not move me?
If He is Lord, then where is my service?
If he is Lord, then where is my suffering?
If He is Lord, then where is my submission?