A young college freshman at Morehouse University walked in to his first day of class and settled in for the instruction. The professor of Philosophy passed out a syllabus and explained what would be expected of the students during the course of the semester. The young student grew more and more excited as he listened to all of the great thinkers they would be studyingthroughout the upcoming months.

Suddenly, the professor changed tones and began to speak about one of the thinkers in a different manner. He said, “When we come to the section we will cover on the subject of Jesus you must know this; what you may have heard in Sunday school or at your church concerning Jesus is wrong. Jesus was a great teacher. He was a wise man. He did many good things. He influenced many people during his day and even unto this day, but he was not the Son of God.” There was a long pause as the freshmen sat attentively, not daring to challenge the man with Ph.D. following his name.

The atmosphere was so uneasy that it seemed like hours had passed with the silence so thick you could cut it with a knife. Then, a hand pierced the silence in the back of the room as one young man lifted his hand to speak. The professor called on the young student and he said, “Yes, He is!” The professor said, “Now I know you’ve probably been told other things back home from your pastor or Sunday school teacher, but you need to know young man that Jesus was not the Son of God, he was merely a great thinker. Class dismissed.”

As the students filed out of class, one of the young man’s friends from back home chastised him on the way out of class. “Alvin, what are you doing? This man is the professor and you and I are just students. Don’t ruin this class for the rest of us, just shut-up and do your work.” Alvin said, “This man may know a lot about philosophy, but I can tell already that he doesn’t know anything about Jesus. I can’t just sit back in class and let him try and convince everyone in class that Jesus was something less than He really is. I’m going to speak up.”

The next time the class met, the professor started in on his tirade allover again. He pointed out that the Bible was written by biased folks who believed in Jesus, that there were other people in history who were reported to have been born of a virgin, and that Jesus could not have risen from the grave. Then he said, “Jesus was not the Son of God.” Alvin’s hand immediately shot-up into the air once again. The professor tried to ignore him as he went on with his anti-Jesus sermon, but Alvin persisted. Finally, the professor realized that he would not go away and so he calledon Alvin. The professor said in a demeaning way, “Yes Mr. Jackson, do you have another sermon for us this morning?” Alvin said, “Yes, He is!” The professor turned his attack from Jesus to Alvin, but Alvin continued throughout the entire semester to stand up for Jesus.

Some years later, Alvin Jackson, the pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee was speaking at the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). At the conclusion ofAlvin’s sermon some of the people came up to speak to him and let him know what a powerful sermon he had preached. When the crowd had dispersed there was one man who stood before Alvin — his old college professor. The man walked up to Alvin, hugged him, looked him in the eyes, and said, “Yes, He is!”

Yes He is! I’ve come here this morning just to let you know that Alvin was right, “Yes He is!” He is the King of all kings! He is the Lord of all lords! He is the Lilly of the valley! He is the Bright and Morning Star! He is the Alpha and Omega! He is the Prince of Peace! He is God!

As Paul sat down to write to the brothers and sisters in Colossae, he wanted them to be able to know that there is no other name above the name of Jesus. Paul wanted the believers to have the full knowledge of the glory and majesty of Jesus. He wanted them to know that Jesus was the Creator, Sustainer, and Hope of all life throughout the universe! For the next few weeks we will be studying Colossians 1:15-20, but today we will only look at verse 15. Let’s take a look at the entire section of Scripture found in Colossians 1:15-20 so we can set the context for this powerful statement concerning Jesus.

He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. {16}For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; allthings were created by him and for him. {17} 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 and the first born from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. {19} For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, {20} 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 1:15-20 NIV)

This is one of the richest sections of Scripture in the entire Bible. We could spend literally hours upon hours studying each of the rich Greekwords that can greatly deepen our understanding of the supremacy and glory of Jesus our Savior. Because we are limited in the amount of time we have on Sunday morning, I want to take the richest of the rich and share them with you this morning.

As we begin this study I want to bring something out into the open. There exists today a very dangerous and deadly disease running rampant in the church. It is the desire for practicality that pertains to me. What I am talking about is this: We want little pieces of Truth that can help us in little pieces of our life rather than spending the time necessary to develop the whole realm of our walk with God. Let me give you an example.

There was a man who was having trouble with his marriage. His marriage was on the skids and he had done everything he could do to get things back to normal, but he couldn’t do it. A friend shared with him about the difference the Lord had made in his life so he decided to give Jesus a chance — he figured he had nothing to lose. He learned some biblical principles about servanthood, forgiveness, love, and intimacy. He began tosee things change as God worked a miracle in his wife’s heart. Over the course of time, as things improved, the man began to become complacent and satisfied. It wasn’t nearly as important for him to be in Sunday school every Sunday. Other things crowded out his attending worship with his family. He began to hit the “snooze button” instead of the shower on Wednesday mornings before Promise Keepers.

There was a reason why this behavior began to manifest itself. He had gotten what he had wanted from God. My friend, you can place any predicament into this scenario and get the same end result. When we look to get only as much of God as we need to “help” us out, then our walk with God will never endure.

What Paul is desiring for the brothers and sisters in Colossae and what I am desiring for each of us is that we would come to understand the supremacy of our Savior for all of life! Jesus is sufficient! Jesus is able! Jesus is Lord and King over all things in every place at all times! Let’s get started. Take a look at verse 15.

(15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Paul doesn’t mince any words. He doesn’t mumble when it comes to what he knows about Jesus in comparing Him to the other revered beings of Colossae. Paul says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” I am convinced that if you and I will let this one little verse sink deep into our hearts then the rest of the picture will come into clear focus. We need to understand just how awesome and majestic, how powerful and glorious our King and Savior Jesus truly is.

When Paul says that Jesus is the “image” of God, what does he mean? Genesis says that you and I are created in the image of God so does Paul mean that Jesus is merely one of us? Created like we are? Not hardly.

The word Paul uses for “image” is a unique word that occurs only six times in the Greek New Testament. The word expresses two different ideas. One is “likeness” and the other is “manifestation.” What Paul is trying to teach the Colossians is that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. God is invisible and therefore we can’t see God, but we can see Jesus, the one who lived and moved among the masses for thirty-three years, the exact representation of all that God is.

You and I both know that we can hear flowery sermons on love, but they will never even begin to compare to being loved. We can hear erudite scholars enunciate the finer points of compassion, but they will never begin to compare with having someone show us compassion. We can study day-after-day the methods and models of prayer, but they can’t benefit us nearly as much as hearing a prayer-warrior pour his or her heart out before God. Just as love, compassion, and prayer with “skin on” will always leave a more lasting mark, so God with “skin on” will touch us in a deeper way than mere standards and procedures handed down from on high. God, in His infinite wisdom, has given us Jesus, God with “skin on” if you will, so that we might behold His glory, majesty, and grace. The writer of Hebrews said,

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty inheaven. (Heb 1:3 NIV)

Jesus is the exact representation of Almighty God. If you want to know theheart of God all you have to do is get to know the heart of Jesus. If you want to know the love of God all you have to do is get to know the love of Jesus. If you want to know the will of God for all of His creation then all you have to do is get to know the will of Jesus for all of His creation. Plainly put, Jesus is God with skin on!

We as people don’t do so well with the intangible, those things that we can’t see, taste, touch, or hear. God is His infinite wisdom has made Himself known to us through His Son so that we can tangibly come to know His deep love, compassion, and power for each of us.

Dr. Anthony Fortosis has written such a powerful piece on the heart of God being made known through the life of Jesus. He writes,

“He is the King of kings, the radiance of His glory, the Lord of the spaceless, fabulous, infinite universe, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, unspeakably holy, dwelling in light, unapproachable, changeless…and yet He condescended to become enclosed in lowly humanflesh, to be born a despised Judean, in a filthy stable, in the womb of a simple Israeli woman and without fanfare or pomp.”

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.
The loftiest and most exalted became the embodiment of humility and simplicity.
The richest became the poorest that the poor might become rich.
He came out of dry ground to become a fruitful vine.
He feasted with publicans and sinners that they might not starve in theirsin.
He starved for 40 days in the wilderness that we might feast on the impeccable Bread of Life.
He taught us to love our enemies, to do good to those who treat us badly.
He emptied Himself that we might be filled.
Mighty conquerors with vast armies and terrible weapons have sought in vain to subdue the world — He conquered a vast kingdom with simple weapons of agape.
The Lion became the Lamb that sheep might become shepherds.
His heart was broken that He might bind up the broken-hearted.
His body was crushed that we might be made whole.
We come into the world to live; He came to die.
The purest One was called illegitimate, blasphemer, winebibber, glutton and imposter by guilty sinners.
The Lord of lords became a lowly servant to serve the pitiful needs ofmankind.
The Man of Sorrows acquainted with the depths of grief became the joy ofthe world.
He was rejected that we might be accepted.
He was bruised that we may be healed.
He was condemned that we might be justified.
He was judged that we would not be judged.
He was deserted for a time by the Father that we might find access to theFather.
He died as the innocent One that the guilty might be declared innocent.
By grasping life we die; through death we find life.
Glory to the Lamb, the Paradox of God.
(Dr. Anthony Fortosis, quoted in Prokope, November/December, 1992, Page 4)

The infinite love of God for you and for me was made known in the baby who grew to become a man who suffered and died that we might live, truly live in the knowledge of His great love and compassion for us. Jesus has come to make God known to each of us. There is no other who so fully reveals the heart of God because Jesus wasn’t a good man trying to do right, He wasGod simply being Himself.

There were folks in Colossae, just as there are folks today that believe that God is in all things, that there are little pieces of God all around us. Today, if you have ever read any of Shirley MacLaine’s writings, you will know that Shirley is among a growing number of folks who think that we are divine. Within each and every one of us is a “spark” of the divine, weare God and many of us do not even know it. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I will say it again, but folks I have to tell you, if I am god then we are all in trouble! The idea that we are all gods may be a popular notion today, it may be part of the “New Age,” but it is merely an old lie with afresh coat of paint.

The last section of verse 15 is one of the most controversial phrases in our study. The phrase, “the firstborn over all creation,” has and is being misused to lead people astray. When Paul writes, “Jesus is the firstbornover all of creation” he doesn’t desire to imply that Jesus Himself was a created being of God. This is the teaching of the Jehovah Witnesses today that is rooted in an idea that was present in Paul’s day, but it certainly wasn’t the teaching of Paul.

The word Paul uses which is translated, “firstborn,” is the word,”prwto,tokoj” (prototokos). The definition from the Greek dictionary is,”firstborn, existing before;” (1) Literally as the oldest son in a family (Luke 2.7; Hebrews 11.28). (2) Used of Jesus Christ; as the unique preexistent Son of the heavenly Father (Hebrews 1.6); as the one existingbefore all creation (Corinthians 1.15); as the first to be resurrected from the dead (Corinthians 1.18); as the head of a spiritual family of “manysiblings” (Romans 8.29).

Paul uses the word to let us know that Jesus has top priority — He issupreme over all others! There are many wonders of God’s creation, but Godsays that every wonder and marvel that has ever been discovered issubservient to Jesus — the Creator of everything there has ever been orever will be. God’s desire is that we who have been created will be conformed to the image of His Son, the Lord of creation! In Romans 8:29,Paul wrote, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed tothe likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Rom 8:29 NIV) Jesus is the King of the hill!

Paul never intended to give anyone the idea that Jesus is the first of all created beings. When we study the word used by Paul we see that Jesusholds preeminence, priority, rights and privileges that none of God’s creation can claim. The word used alludes to the cultural practice of the Jews seen in biblical times. The first born in any family held certain rights and privileges that no other child in the family could claim. To be”firstborn” was a positional blessing, a place of privilege.

In the story of Jacob and Esau found in Genesis 27, Jacob tricks his father so that he can steal his older brother’s blessing, the blessing that was rightfully to go to the firstborn son. When Esau found out that his brother had tricked him he became incensed. You can get a better idea ofthe drama of the scene if you and I read it together. Take a look atGenesis 27:33-38 and know that as we pick up the story Esau has just goneto take some of his food to his father after Jacob has already tricked his dad.

Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him–and indeed he will be blessed!” {34} When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me–metoo, my father!” {35} But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.” {36} Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?” {37}Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?” {38} Esau said to his father,”Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud. (Gen 27:33-38 NIV)

Esau was so upset because as the firstborn son he had a blessing coming to him that would not be given to his younger brother. Jacob was willing to scheme his way into his brother’s blessing because he knew that he didn’t occupy the position of firstborn.

God has made Jesus the preeminent, paramount, most-excellent Ruler over all of creation. There may be some great folks who have lived in years passed,there may some folks of great fame even in our day, but there is nobody who even comes close to holding the position of prominence occupied by Jesus! The writer of Hebrews shouts out his “amen” by writing,

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, {2} but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Heb 1:1-2 NIV)

God has made Jesus the heir of all things. All things belong to Jesus. They are His. There will be no decision to be made concerning who has rightful ownership because God has already settled all of that by proclaiming that it all belongs to Jesus! What is truly amazing is thatGod has made you and me, anyone who will trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviorco-heirs with Christ! What God has given to Jesus will be given to those who place their trust in His saving work on the cross. If that doesn’t boggle your mind then you need a brain scan! Check out the following passages to see God’s intention for you and for me.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.{17} Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Rom 8:16-17 NIV)

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, {27} for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. {28}There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. {29} If you belong to Christ, then you areAbraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:26-29 NIV)

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, {5} which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles andprophets. {6} This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. {7} I became a servant of thisgospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of hispower. {8} Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches ofChrist, {9} and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created allthings. {10} His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in theheavenly realms, {11} according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. {12} In him and through faith in himwe may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Eph 3:4-12 NIV)

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, {5} he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, {6}whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, {7} sothat, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. {8} This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you tostress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent andprofitable for everyone. (Titus 3:4-8 NIV)

Those will trust in Jesus are heirs of the promises of God. What implications does that have for our lives? I’m so glad you asked. In Christ We Have–

A love that can never be fathomed
A life that can never die
A righteousness that can never be tarnished
A peace that can never be understood
A rest that can never be disturbed
A joy that can never be diminished
A hope that can never be disappointed
A glory that can never be clouded
A light that can never be darkened
A purity that can never be defiled
A beauty that can never be marred
A wisdom that can never be baffled
Resources that can never be exhausted.

This brings us back to the deadly disease that is plaguing the Church today. My friend, we should never settle for less than God has intended for us. We should never settle for a solution to some specific problemthat is plaguing us, we should seek after a solid Rock, a firm Foundation,a sure Shelter! If we will desire the firm foundation of a life built upon Jesus, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all of creation, more than life itself, then when the storms of life blow and rage we will endure through His might and strength.

I came by to let someone who is going through the fire know that Jesus is able. He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than you can ever imagine. Not simply in the midst of your turmoil, but for all of life and the life to come! Jesus is sufficient! Jesus is able! He is the exact representative of God present and able to give you a firm foundation upon which you can build your life!

Billy Sunday, in a sermon he preached called, “Wonderful,” communicated with his congregation the sufficiency of Jesus Christ by saying,

Christ for sickness, Christ for health,
Christ for poverty, Christ for wealth,
Christ for joy, Christ for sorrow,
Christ today and Christ tomorrow;
Christ my Life, and Christ my Light,
Christ for morning, noon and night,
Christ when all around gives way
Christ my everlasting Stay;
Christ my Rest, and Christ my Food
Christ above my highest good,
Christ my Well-beloved Friend
Christ my Pleasure without end;
Christ my Savior, Christ my Lord
Christ my Portion, Christ my God,
Christ my Shepherd, I His sheep
Christ Himself my soul to keep;
Christ my Leader, Christ my Peace
Christ has bought my soul’s release,
Christ my Righteousness divine
Christ for me, for He is mine;
Christ my Wisdom, Christ my Meat,
Christ restores my wandering feet,
Christ my Advocate and Priest
Christ who ne’er forgets the least;
Christ my Teacher, Christ my Guide,
Christ my Rock, in Christ I hide,
Christ the Ever-living Bread,
Christ His precious Blood has shed;
Christ has brought me nigh to God,
Christ the everlasting Word
Christ my Master, Christ my Head,
Christ who for my sins has bled;
Christ my Glory, Christ my Crown,
Christ the Plant of great renown,
Christ my Comforter on high,
Christ my Hope, draws ever nigh.

Oh, my friend I hope that through this study you have come to realize thes ufficiency of Jesus Christ, the salvation of Jesus Christ, the hope that rest in only Jesus Christ. Jesus is able because He and He alone is God! Won’t you invite Him to come into your heart and be your Lord and Savior this day?

Jesus Is…
Colossians 1:15
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