Trinity Fifteen, Sunday September 29, 2019 — Colossians 1:15-20 — Christ is More than a Man
Sermon for Trinity Fifteen – Sunday September 29, 2019
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Colossians 1:15–20 (ESV)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ,
Who is true God from Eternity and our Creator,
Who is also true Man born to be our Redeemer,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Precious Blood –
I have always loved outdoor services.
- I first attended an outdoor service when I was in Kindergarten. It was one of the first ‘Harvest Festivals’ hosted by our sister congregation, Prince of Peace in Hecla, SD. The service took place in a field, and the altar was made of straw bales.
- I attended outdoor services in the years that followed here in Marquette. I remember worshipping at the band shell out on Presque Isle.
When I was a child, I loved those outdoor services for a number of reasons. It was a change of venue. It was outside and included a picnic…and pop in cans. It was an opportunity to spend more time with my friends from church.
I do still like outdoor services.
Although, I must admit, I don’t enjoy them for all of the same reasons. I still like the picnic and the pop. I still enjoy the opportunity to fellowship with fellow Christians.
On the other hand, it’s a little different conducting these services than attending them. I worry about the sound system, the distractions and all the problems presented by an outdoor service. I worry about the mosquitos and the weather.
I can’t think of a better venue to give thanks to our Creator God…than in the midst of His Creation. I realize, of course, that we live in a fallen creation, one far from perfect (again, note the mosquitos)…but it’s still beautiful. This – the birds and trees, the sun and sky are still evidence that (as the Psalmist put it, cf. Psalm 19:1):
“The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky tells of His handiwork.”
Since the Creator doesn’t speak to us in the wind – but through His Word – we turn to that Word this morning to learn about the Creator…from the Creator. We learn that Christ is more than a man, He is GOD, Creator, Preserver, Head of the Church, Redeemer and Peace maker.
May God the Holy Spirit bless us that we may not be distracted from the Word, but focus upon it and better get to know Christ our Creator and Redeemer. Amen.
We Lutherans are an orderly lot. We like things just so – to use particular words to define particular things.
We have learned from God’s Word through Luther’s Catechism to speak of God the Father as our Creator. We believe and confess the Apostle’s Creed, which declares: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”
We also speak of the Son of God as our Redeemer and the Spirit of God as our Sanctifier. We use these terms because the Bible uses them of the Son and the Spirit.
While we use these simple expressions…Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier…that doesn’t mean that the Triune God is easily comprehended for fits neatly into a box.
- It doesn’t mean that the person of God we know as Father created all things independently of the Son and the Spirit.
- It doesn’t mean that the person of God we know as the Son Redeemed humankind without the direction of the Father and the Spirit.
- It doesn’t mean that the person of God we know as the Spirit does His work independent of the Father and the Son. We should not think of one person of God (Father, Son or Spirit) as more prominent or powerful than the others.
In fact, the Word of God we consider this morning plainly declares that Christ is more than a Man, He is God. The Apostle Paul is speaking of Jesus the Christ, when he says:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
What does it mean that Christ is the ‘image’ of the invisible God? Well, let me help. The word translated ‘image’ is used of the picture stamped on ancient coins. I have a quarter here…if you can’t quite see it that’s ok.
Whose image is impressed on this coin? George Washington.
When you see this image, who are you seeing? George Washington….it’s what he looked like.
When the Apostle Paul says that Christ is the ‘image of the invisible God’ he’s pointing out that when you see Jesus you are seeing GOD. While God – being a spirit – is invisible; when we see Jesus we are seeing the invisible God made flesh and blood. When you see Jesus, you are seeing God. In fact, Jesus told his disciples that in seeing Him…they were also seeing the Father. He said it like this (John 14:9):
“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
So, when it says that Christ is the image of God, it’s saying that He is God.
This Scripture also says that Christ is the firstborn of all creation. Does this mean that the Son of God was created along with the creation and is ‘less God than the Father’? An early false teacher named Arius misunderstood this expression ‘firstborn of all creation’ as saying that Christ was just a created being.
The problem is that when we hear ‘first-born’ we think of the beginning of a person. The firstborn child is the first child born to his parents. Well, that certainly isn’t what is being said in this Scripture. The firstborn isn’t just the first child born…he is the heir.
This isn’t saying that Christ was ‘born’ along with the Creation…but that He is the firstborn over or before the Creation. This expression emphasizes – not beginning or origin – but that Christ is the heir of all created things. If that isn’t clear by the expression ‘firstborn of all creation’ it’s clear from the words that follow:
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
Christ, the Son of God, is not a created being, but the Creator. In words that even a politician could understand it states here that all things were created – in the universe above us as far as it stretches and on the earth beneath us…whether visible to the eye or invisible – all things were created by Him, by the being we know as Christ, Jesus, the Son of God. He is the highest authority and power in the universe.
While we may think of certain men as powerful and worthy of fear…but they are nothing compared to Christ. In both authority and power there is no throne, kingdom, ruler or authority – spiritual in the heavens or physical on earth – that is superior or equal to Him in any respect.
This Jesus is our friend, benefactor and protector. We should be fearless. We should feel sorrow for those who persecute those who belong to Christ…for they will have to answer to HIM. There is nothing more fearful than to fall into the hands of the highest power of all.
Christ is the Creator…for it says here that all things were created through Him (i.e. by means of His power) and for Him (i.e. to belong to and find in Him its goal). It was this same mighty Creator that stooped from His throne and was born of a woman, to live sinless under His Law as our substitute and to die to pay our debt in full.
Is it any wonder then that at His death the Sun was darkened and the entire planet was affected?
Christ is more than a man; He is God…the Creator. He is also the preserver of all Creation, for it is here written:
17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Christ is before all things. No matter how far back we might press our imagination, there was never a time when He was not. This isn’t the only passage that speaks of the eternal existence of the Christ. In the book of Revelation He is called (Revelation 1:11) “The Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last.”
Christ also preserves all things. It is in connection with Him that all things stand or hold together. If He were to turn from us the earth and the universe would fall apart. The writer to the Hebrews says (Hebrews 1:3) that He upholds all things by the Word of His Power. We don’t ‘thank our lucky stars’ for another day of life…we thank Christ our Preserver.
Christ is more than a man, He is God, Creator, Preserver and He is also the Head of the Church…as it is here written:
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
When we look around at those gathered here for worship this morning…we may feel insignificant. We are a handful of Christians on the face of a bustling planet.
BUT…by God’s grace we have been united to the Son of God, the Creator and Preserver…by faith. Christ and His People are pictured here together as a unit, as one body. He is the head…and all believers including us are individually the limbs and members under His control.
Christ has not only blessed us with physical life – a brain that commands and a heart that pumps – He has also given us spiritual life through the Word of God. We have come to know the True God and trust in Him and praise and serve Him. We trace the life we possess back to Him. He is the firstborn from the dead, the first to rise from death of His own power.
How can we not give back to Him with all our strength and energy?
Christ is more than a man; He is God, Creator, Preserver, Head of the Church…and the redeemer and reconciler of all men, the peacemaker with God.
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
It was necessary that Christ be human…to die. It was also necessary that Christ be God…that His death atone for human sin and remove human guilt. So in Him all the fullness of God dwelled and dwells. He, the Creator, came to His fallen Creation as Redeemer.
I find it interesting that environmentalists are so afraid of what human beings might do to the planet…yet they don’t consider what human sin has done to it already. This world was perfect, without flaw…and then the first two human beings disobeyed God. Sin grew worse and worse until God judged the earth by means of a world-wide flood, which changed the face of the planet. The earth that we see today is a planet changed by that flood, an imperfect one filled with imperfect creatures.
God didn’t only judge the world, but set out to reconcile it to Himself. Christ did so by taking up human flesh and dying on Calvary to make peace with God. In this way Christ the Creator became Christ the Redeemer and Peace maker.
We should thank Christ for having created and for preserving us. We should look to Him as the Head of the Church on earth and our master. We ought to thank Him for becoming our Redeemer and peacemaker.
We may also – because of Him – look forward to a more beautiful place…a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
He is more than a man…He is God, creator, preserver, redeemer and peacemaker…and we live now through Him and will live again. Amen.