Christ is supreme! – A sermon on Colossians 1:15-23 by Rev. Colin Pretorius.
Between May and October 1893, the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America was celebrated at what came to be known as the Chicago World’s Fair. It was a huge event, with more people attending than are currently living in the whole of Australia. All sorts of functions and get-togethers were held, one of which was the so-called World’s Parliament of Religions. The goal of this meeting was to develop common ground world religious leaders. The idea that we hear so often today that all faiths lead to God isn’t something new, it was prevalent at this meeting too. Universal acceptance and toleration was, in a sense, the name of the game. It was perhaps best illustrated by the Hindu swami Vivekananda who recalled the words of a hymn that in effect says that while different streams have different sources they all lead to the same god. He concluded with a quote from one of the Hindu scriptures that says all people struggle through paths which in the end leads to [the same god]. The well-known evangelist DL Moody didn’t attend this meeting despite being invited to do so. Instead he set up preaching posts throughout the city to proclaim Christ. He knew that preaching the supreme, peerless and all-sufficient Christ would bring people to Christ – and it did, with thousands coming to Christ.
But Moody wasn’t the first preacher to proclaim the excellence and beauty of our Lord and Saviour. Others before him did too. And in our passage today that’s exactly what Paul is doing. This is the most concentrated description of the splendour and the glory and the majesty of Jesus in all of God’s Word. Someone has called it the most amazing litany of truths about Jesus – and that it certainly is. In this wonderful passage Paul reminds the church in Colossae that Jesus has first place in all of creation – He is supreme over all. He reminds them that there’s just one stairway to heaven and that is Jesus, for it is only in Him that there’s redemption and renewal and salvation. This passage is about the supremacy of Jesus, the excellence of Jesus, the majesty of Jesus – or to paraphrase our great missionary apostle, “It’s all about Jesus!”
It’s all about Jesus! – Let’s just let that soak in for a few minutes as we listen to the 13 things that Paul tells us about Jesus in this text.
- v15 He is the image of the invisible God
- v16 He is the firstborn of all creation
He created all things in heaven and on earth
All things were created for Him
- v17 He is before all things
He holds all things together
- v18 He is the head of the church
He is the beginning of all things
He is the firstborn from the dead
He is preeminent in everything
- v19 The fullness of God dwells in Him.
- v20 He reconciles all things to Himself
He makes peace by the blood of His cross
And if we add verse 14,
- In Him we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.
What a description of the beauty and wonder and supremacy of Jesus!
We won’t be able to cover all of these in detail this morning but I’ll nevertheless strive to do justice to the text. In summary Paul tells us that Jesus is supreme in all of creation and also in the new creation.
- Jesus is supreme in all of creation (15-17)
- Jesus is supreme in the new creation (v18-23)