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Jesus the Creator, Saviour, Reconciler

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Jesus the Creator, Saviour, Reconciler - Introduction

For this sermon I picked a passage from the lectionary for a Sunday in July when I’ll be preaching this at St Paul’s Papamoa. I began working on it & quickly realised my error
One scholar wrote; “This is one of the most debated passages in the history of New Testament interpretation and requires more care than any in (the book)” another said “The next verses are generally, and rightly, reckoned among the most important Christological passages in the New Testament.”
The next verses are generally, and rightly, reckoned among the most important Christological passages in the New Testament. It is perhaps inevitable, therefore, that they should have been the subject of considerable discussion.
N. T. Wright, Colossians and Philemon: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 12, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 67.
So no pressure! Anyway in this sermon we’ll consider the ambitious yet ill advised passage Col 1:15:23!
So I’m going to attempt to do this class preaching assignment on the ambitious yet ill advised passage Col 1:15:23!
To set the scene - It appears there’d been some false teaching in the church at Colossae that had misrepresented Christ. So Paul felt compelled to correct the church’s misunderstanding of who Jesus is & what he’d accomplished;
It appears there’d been some false teaching that had detracted away from & misrepresented Christ.
So Paul felt compelled to correct the church’s understanding of who Jesus is & what he’d accomplished;
Now there’s no way you can cover even a portion of what this passage contains in one sermon. It’s so theologically rich and dense you could preach a single sermon on each verse.
So instead we’re taking a rough broad view of what Paul was communicating; That only Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to reconciles to God
That only Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to reconciles us / humanity to God
And we’ll look at - Jesus the Creator; Jesus the Saviour; Us the Reconciled
Christ the CreatorJesus the Saviour Us the Reconciled

Jesus the Creator

Jesus the Creator
Through the first 6 verses of this passage Paul writes a continuous string of statements about Christ. In these first 3 verses Paul focuses on Jesus deity - on Jesus status his position, his authority.
So let’s read
Colossians 1:15–17 NIV84
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
There’s so much in these verses its ridiculous but let me draw your attention to 2 phrases Paul uses here;
In these first 3 verses Paul focuses on Jesus deity - on Jesus status his position, his authority
Again there’s so much in these verses but let me draw attention to 2 phrases here;
For by him all things were created & in him all things hold together
This tells us 2 important things - First, Jesus was part of the creation of whole universe. He was there before beginning of everything. He has always existed & has the same authority / position / status that we attribute to God Father.
Secondly its Jesus who’s power holds the whole universe together. Without Jesus everything we cease to exist. From a sub atomic level to encompassing every galaxy in the universe - Jesus power continues to maintain the existence of everything
Those 2 concepts are so easy to forget - we can get caught in our gospel view of Jesus of Nazareth and forget He’s the eternal creator God who’s power prevents universe just flying apart.
he holds all of creation together with his power, and that he has status / position / authority over all creation,
he holds all of creation together with his power, and that he has status / position / authority over all creation,
as music / piano teacher - struggled to take her authority seriously - didn’t like someone familiar teaching us, giving us homework, correcting us in doing things wrong Need to understand who Jesus is - true nature / status - his importance / place in God’s story started before beginning - He was Creator God before he was God man
Illus - My Mum is Royal Academy of London classically trained concert pianist and teacher. She’s been a successful music teacher for over 45 years. When I was younger she tried teaching me piano. Trouble was I couldn’t get past seeing her as Mum, I didn’t appreciate the authority she had to tell me what to do to play the piano - she even tried giving me homework. I couldn’t see beyond the fact she was my Mum, that in fact she was way more than just Mum - so I only lasted 1 lesson then gave up
As Christians we too need to grasp the reality of who Jesus really is - his true nature and status; the critical place he holds in God’s story, from before the beginning of everything - Jesus is the Creator God before he was the God man.
This is critical for understanding what he accomplished and how he accomplished it. If we fail to understand Jesus as the Creator God then He will never be the Saviour we all desperately need.

Jesus the Saviour

In these next 3 verses Paul focuses on Jesus physical presence on earth as fully God and fully human, and what he accomplished;
Colossians 1:18–20 NIV84
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.
Col 1:18 - 20
Again there’s a lot going on in this verse. But we can say simply that Jesus entered the universe he created in human form and experienced all it is to be truly human while never losing his complete essence and nature as the Creator God.
It’s only through Jesus being both Creator and human that he had the authority and capability to save all creation from complete corruption and destruction plus do what was needed to reconcile a rebellious and evil humanity back to God. And that was accomplished through his death on the cross
Christ was also one who came to earth, to experience all it is to be human while containing his complete essence of God nature / being - only through Jesus being both creator & human he could save all creation and do what was needed to reconcile us back to God
Jesus the Saviour - vs 18 - 20Christ was also one who came to earth, to experience all it is to be human while containing his complete essence of God nature / being - only through Jesus being both creator & human he could save all creation and do what was needed to reconcile us back to God Under-estimating a calm sea - dangerous! it looks like calm see - easy to miss subtle hints of a rip hiding under surface. You have to study behaviour / nature of sea to understand it properly - we did that when younger with my Dad - nearly drowned - saved by surfers! To understand what Jesus accomplished & how he dit it - have to understand who he is - takes time & paying attention to details. There’s more to Jesus than what we read in Gospels - if we don’t dig deeper we will underestimate HimUs the Reconciled - vs 21 - 23If we understand who Jesus is, then we can understand what he’s done, & then understand how that effects us. Because of this we can have complete confidence in what Jesus has accomplished. No matter how terrible a life we’ve lived, terrible things done - Jesus has done everything for us to be reconciled to God.Have you ever over estimated your ability to do something? My wife is someone who loves to win at games or sports. She tore her achilles playing indoor netball in her late 30’s after belong very active in her 20’s - she’d underestimated how intense & aggressive indoor netball & over estimated her her fitness & preparedness When we devalue Jesus (who he is) & overestimate our goodness we loose sight of how much we need Jesus / forget how broken, rebellious, sinful we are. Jesus is unique & only one who could reconcile us to God. So our hope for future should remain in Christ & not shift from him
Illus - Have you ever over estimated your ability to do something? You think you’re pretty good at playing sport so you just go play & you play hard! The number of ACC claims made by weekend sports men is shocking!.
2 Corinthians 5:19 ESV
that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
My wife is someone who loves to win at games or sports whatever it takes. She decided in her late 30’s to take up playing indoor netball - after having a very active sport life in her 20’s. However she totally overestimated her fitness, abilities, & preparedness & underestimated how intense & aggressive indoor netball was. In her first game of the season in about 2nd quarter she tore her achilles tendon… that was end of her indoor netball career.
Under-estimating a calm sea - dangerous! it looks like calm see - easy to miss subtle hints of a rip hiding under surface. You have to study behaviour / nature of sea to understand it properly - we did that when younger with my Dad - nearly drowned - saved by surfers!
It’s easy for us to trust in other ways through which we can justify ourselves to God. Things like maintaining an unbroken record of Sunday service attendance, refraining from lying, giving generously in the church offering, reading our bibles & praying every day etc. - that somehow achieving these thing will help us keep in God’s good books.
We think we can do enough to keep God happy, secure a place in heaven, remain on good terms with God, convince God to bless us & keep us from harm.
But the reality is we over estimate our ability to do anything that could change how God sees us…
As Paul stated quite clearly there is no one alive that’s good enough to remain in God’s good books;
Romans 3:10–12 NIV84
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
This is why it’s critical we understand who Jesus is so we can then understand why only Jesus could accomplish what He did on the cross for all humanity - to reconcile us back to God by paying the penalty for all our rebellion, wickedness, and sin on our behalf.
Roms 3:10-12
If we don’t understand who Jesus is, then we won’t understand why only he could accomplish - why Jesus is only person who can save us from sin, death, and destruction.
If we don’t understand who Jesus is, then we won’t understand why only he could accomplish - why Jesus is only person who can save us from sin, death, and destruction.
So there’s a lot more to Jesus than what we read in Gospels - but if we don’t dig deeper into scripture we will always underestimate Him and over estimate ourselves
To understand what Jesus accomplished & how he dit it - have to understand who he is - takes time & paying attention to details. There’s more to Jesus than what we read in Gospels - if we don’t dig deeper we will underestimate Him

Us the Reconciled

So lastly let’s look at what Jesus accomplished on our behalf that Paul lays out in verses 21-23
Colossians 1:21–23 NIV84
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, not moved 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.
- vs 21 - 23
So Paul highlighted Jesus is the Creator God, who entered creation as a human to do what we couldn’t - to reconcile us back to God through willingly giving up his life on the cross - Jesus being the only person qualified to make peace with God on humanities behalf .
Jesus true identity and why he was the only person qualified to make peace with God on our behalf then helps us begin to understand how all that effects us today.
Paul reminds the Colossians that before they they were Christian they were like everyone else - separated from God through evil rebellious thinking & behaviour.
If we understand who Jesus is, then we can understand what he’s done, & then understand how that effects us. Because of this we can have complete confidence in what Jesus has accomplished. No matter how terrible a life we’ve lived, terrible things done - Jesus has done everything for us to be reconciled to God.
Its easy to forget we are no different to anyone else - we are just as rebellious, evil, wicked, broken, & lost as every other person on the planet.
The only difference is that instead of trusting ourselves to gain God’s acceptance we place our faith & trust in who is Jesus and what he accomplished. That only Jesus can presents us to God as perfect, as though we’ve never done anything wrong.
But through faith in who is Jesus and what he accomplished Jesus presents them to God as perfect, as though they’d never done anything wrong.
However Paul does adds an important ‘if’ - Jesus presents us to God perfect, holy sinless if the Colossians & us as Christians continue to put our faith & trust in Jesus as the only one qualified & capable of doing so.
Being transformed into a perfect, holy, person who is without evil, wickedness, rebellion by Jesus isn’t a one-off event.... its a process
2 Corinthians 5:19 ESV
that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Paul says in Philippians that Jesus works at making us holy, perfect, without blemish throughout our entire lives… its a long process that lasts for as long as we’re breathing...
Philippians 1:6 NIV84
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
So Paul reminds the in Colossians they needed to keep trusting in Jesus the Creator as their Saviour no matter what & to not allow themselves to be distracted or be deviated from remaining faithful to Jesus
Because of this we can have complete confidence in what Jesus has accomplished. No matter how terrible a life we’ve lived, terrible things done - Jesus has done everything for us to be reconciled to God.
Illus - Who’s been caught in a rip? When I was younger back in the 80’s my Dad & I went swimming on a West Auckland beach notorious for rips. The water looked fine and we missed subtle hints of the rip hiding under the surface.
My Dad & I were quickly dragged out into deep water & I wasn’t a strong swimmer. Neither of us knew what to do so my Dad was shouting at me to keep swimming & save myself. That’s the only time I’ve seen real fear & panic on my Dad’s face. We nearly drowned had it not been for a bunch of surfers who came to our rescue just in time. I climbed on to one of their surfboards made the long paddle back to shore while other surfers helped my exhausted Dad...
Life can be just like that - we over estimate our ability, under-estimate our circumstances & then we get into real trouble, & wonder why...
We need to trust completely in Jesus for everything. No matter how desperate, confusing, dramatic our life gets, Jesus is only one who can make peace with God. We must never loose sight of how broken, rebellious, sinful we are. If we do we loose sight of how much we need Jesus forget only HE is uniquely qualified to be the Saviour, and only Jesus has done everything required for each of us to be reconciled to peace with God.
Because of this we can have complete confidence in what Jesus has accomplished. No matter how terrible a life we’ve lived, terrible things done - Jesus has done everything for us to be reconciled to God.
Only Jesus can save us
Jesus is unique & only one who could reconcile us to God. So our hope for future should remain in Christ & not shift from him
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Only Jesus can save us
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