This sermon is part of our In Him series. In Him is a 3 part series that studies the Colossians in the run up to Christmas 2023. You can watch all 3 here.
This morning we are starting a short series called IN HIM as we celebrate Christmas and we need God’s Word to help us remember why we celebrate Christmas.
We need God’s Word to help us not get sucked into the shopping and parties of Christmas. We need God’s Word to help us remember that Christmas isn’t “Jack frost nipping at our nose.”
We need God’s Word to help us remember that Christmas isn’t just memories of lost loved ones or family drama.
Christmas God taking on flesh and entering into human history. Christmas is angels singing “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth with whom He is pleased.” Christmas is this young couple surrounded by angels on a cold night unsure of what was going to happen the next day but none of that mattered because the Son of the Most High had come, the One who will rule on the throne of David and His kingdom will have no end, had come. (Luke 1). His name is Jesus! Let’s look at Colossians 1:15:
Colossians 1:15, “15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
We’re just focusing on one verse this morning. Let’s read it again, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
Next Sunday, Christmas Eve, we will focus on verse 16 and at the candlelight service that evening we will focus on verse 17, so these verses are power packed verses that we get to dig into this morning.
When you study Scripture you always want to draw out the context of what you are reading by identifying the author and the audience. In chapter 1, verse 1 we see the author is “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus…”
The Apostle Paul is just a regular guy. You can read about Paul’s life in the book of Acts on your own, so that the human author is Paul but the ultimate author of our words this morning is God. I need you to hear that this morning.
At some point, when you read God’s Word there is going to be a voice that pops in your head, “Is this really God’s Word? Wasn’t this just written by human beings?”
Young people, listen to me, you are going to get this question from people in school, you’re going to have this question personally, “If the Bible is written by people, how can we trust the bible?”
The short answer is “All Scripture is inspired by God” 2 Timothy 3 but that’s just the bible supporting the bible. In my opinion, the strongest support of God’s Word being God’s Word is that the bible was written by many people with one central message. Many people, one message.
Every other religious text is written by one person wandering off into the woods and writing down, “God told me type moments.” That’s what we see in Islam with Mohammad, that’s what we see in Mormonism with Joseph Smith, but that’s not what we see with the God’s Word.
The Scriptures are made up of 44 different authors, over a 1500-year period, three different languages, with a variety of different backgrounds and there is one central message, “Jesus is the hope for all of humanity!” Write that in your devotional.
One guy off in the woods, looking up into the sky, writing some things down is called speculation, but 44 different authors, over a 1500-year periods, with a variety of different backgrounds all pointing to our hope in Jesus is called supernatural revelation.
We aren’t studying these words this morning, because Paul is such a “great guy.” No, we are studying these words this morning because these words are the inspired words of God through Paul to point us to our hope in Jesus. That’s the author!
The audience is in chapter 1, verse 2, “saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who are at Colossae”, so that the audience is just a regular group of men, women, and children in Colossae, which is modern day Turkey.
Again, we’re not reading a secret story about a mythological location in a faraway land. Colossae is known for being one of three cities on a river that attracted business people from around the world.
Colossae is like Beaumont, Port Author, and Orange, the Golden Triangle, but instead of oil, Colossae is thriving in wool and sheep and dyes so that people were coming to Colossae from all over the world.
As a result, the Apostle Paul shows up in Colossae, proclaims the name of Jesus, men, women, and children come to faith in Jesus and a new church is started.
It isn’t that different today. Followers of Jesus go throughout our day around the world; Columbia, Nepal, Vietnam, Luxembourg, God’s Word invites us to serve people around us, get into discussions about Jesus with the people around us, people come to faith in Jesus and new churches are started around the world just like in Colossae. This is the context of a verse 15.
Colossians 1:15, “15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
The reason the Apostle Paul writes these words in verse 15 is because the men, women and children in the church in Colossae were beginning to doubt their faith in Jesus.
There were false teachers in Colossae who would belittle their faith in Jesus. There were false teachers who would say, “Jesus is a good start but if you really want something supernatural you need to…fill in the blank.”
This still happens today. People will say, “Jesus is nice but if you really want be spiritual you need to read this book, listen to this podcast, it will change your life…uh, more than Jesus?”
Sometimes we do this to ourselves. We don’t see ourselves growing spiritually. We keep seeing the same character flaws in our life, “Oh, I need to move to a different city, I need to start a new relationship, I need to join Crossfit.” You ever met anyone in Crossfit?
In verse 15 the Apostle Paul is teaching the Colossians, “You have Jesus!” Jesus is the image of the invisible God! What does some author born in 1992 have to offer that’s better than Jesus!
First, the phrase “He is the image of the invisible God” is loaded with goodness. All throughout humanity there are people who acknowledge God. In the 1600’s there were some people who started to suggest, “Perhaps God doesn’t exist?” We call these people Atheist, a-theist but this group of people in the span of humanity is a very small group of people.
The majority of people throughout humanity and still today believe there is some type of higher power in life that is influencing the unfolding of life.
There are people, still today who say things like, “I feel like something was missing in my life.” I feel like there is something bigger than me in life. They are describing the invisible God!
Visitors on a Sunday morning say things to me and our Hello Team like, “I felt this pull to walk in here this morning. Sometimes they will say, “This probably sounds crazy but I have been having these strange thoughts about wanting to know God.”
It’s because throughout humanity God has been invisible through His eternal power and divine nature we have sensed His presence but now, Jesus, the image of the invisible has become known. Does that make sense?
Have you noticed when life starts to collapse around people they start praying? When countries go to war people start praying. When economies collapse people start praying. When pandemics turn the world upside people start praying. Who are they praying to in those moments?
I remember in 2011 our city was going through such a drought that our city council issued plea to the citizens of Austin to pray for rain. Isn’t that interesting? Who are they praying to in those moments? Our culture can deny the existence of God all day long but when life starts to collapse people turn to something.
In verse 15 the Apostle Paul writes “Jesus is that something.” Jesus is the image of the invisible. Humanity senses this powerful force in the cosmos and the Apostle Paul says “In Jesus, that powerful force in the cosmos has become knowable.” That’s the miracle of Christmas!
I think now more than ever there is an added layer of skepticism in our day. Do you see this? We have been led astray by our politicians, spiritual leaders, media institutions, so that today I read every article with more skepticism than ever.
Palestine and Israel, Ukraine, Kate Cox and Texas Supreme Court I am constantly asking, “What’s the angel? Who does this benefit? How are they trying to manipulate?” because I am completely skeptical of every news outlet now, right?
In verse 15 the Apostle Paul is writing, “The mystery of God has become known.” The invisible has become visible. The secret files have been made public. The lights have been turned on! Jesus’ birth is huge! Maybe you have grown up hearing about God taking on flesh, so it sounds familiar but this is huge.
Let’s talk about the word “image.” In the phrase “He is the image of the invisible” we see the word “image” and the word “image” is the Greek word “Eikon” so that “eikon” means likeness or representation like a statue.
When we read verse 15 and see the words “He is the image of the invisible” it not only means God is knowable but God is personable.
Up to this point nobody had ever seen God. Humanity had seen the hand of God at work in creation like mountains, seas, and trees.
Humanity had seen miracles of God at specific events throughout history like burning bush, parting of the Red Sea, pillars of fire.
But now, through Jesus, all those characteristics became personable. Through Jesus we get to see God’s love for His people as Jesus weeps for Lazarus.
Through Jesus we get to see the love of God as Jesus walks and talks with all types of people. Through Jesus we get to see God’s wisdom as Jesus teaches the people and they respond.
Through Jesus we get to see God’s justice and mercy as Jesus stands up for the woman caught in adultery. Through Jesus we get to see God’s humility as Jesus stands before Pilate, falsely accused.
In the Old Testament we can read about the lives of Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets and we can see God’s patience in the lives of those people, but in Jesus the patience of God has a face. This is glorious!
That’s what we are celebrating at Christmas! Young people, this is why we are giving gifts to one another at Christmas. The little gifts are reminders of the greatest gift that was ever given to humanity.
These little twinkling lights are reminders of the greatest light to ever break into humanity, therefore, we need to ask ourselves, “Do we know this Jesus?” I am not asking if you go to church, if you call yourself a Christian but do you know the image of the invisible?
Maybe we would say we know Jesus but then we need to ask ourselves, “Are we growing in our knowledge and understanding of this Jesus?” I don’t want to get too abstract but it’s likely that when I say the name Jesus that we are all thinking of a different “image” in our mind of Jesus based on our experiences and understanding in our past.
And some of those “images” are biblical, praise God, and it’s likely, for all of us, some of those images are not consistent with God’s Word, therefore, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I growing in my understanding and knowledge of Jesus made known in God’s Word?”
This is the context of our passage in Colossians. These false teachers were adding a distorted view of Jesus and it was creating confusion.
In our culture today there are false teachers, false authors, false speakers, false podcasts and they are saying the name Jesus but it’s not the Jesus of God’s Word, so that we need to be careful we know Jesus and we are being shaped by the Jesus of the bible.
Now, let’s talk about this phrase “firstborn of all creation.” The term “firstborn” is a statement of Jesus’ supremacy in creation. Exodus 4, “22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Israel is My son, My firstborn.” Psalm 89, “27 And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.”
The purpose of the language “firstborn” is because in the first century the firstborn received the wealth, status, power, and the position of the family so that Paul is using language so as to imply if you have seen the Jesus then you have seen the Father.
Colossians 1:15, “15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
There are some people today who will take this phrase “firstborn of all creation” to mean that Jesus is a created being. Perhaps you have had a Jehovah’s Witness knock on your door, they will turn to this verse and imply Jesus was a created being.
Not just the Jehovah Witnesses, but most of the churches in the center of our city will take that phrase, “firstborn of all creation” and say, “See Jesus is just a regular guy who said some good things.”
They will remove the miraculous from Jesus. They will remove the resurrection from Jesus and they will point to this verse.
But verse 15 is written to teach us that Jesus is preeminent and supreme over all creation. Write that in your devotional because someone is going to show you this verse and you can tell them, “No, Jesus is preeminent and supreme over all creation.”
Jesus is over creation, over the church, over the family, and Jesus’ hand is over all of humanity. In fact, the next two verses clarify all things are by Jesus, through Jesus and for Jesus.
In addition, when you read about Jesus’ life, Jesus never claimed to be a created being. This is why we need to know the bible. Jesus never claimed to be a form of God. Jesus never claimed to offer wise words on life. Jesus claimed to be God.
There’s a reason religious leader wanted to kill Jesus. It wasn’t because Jesus claimed be wise. It’s because Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Therefore, the wording “firstborn of all creation” is about supremacy over all of creation.
Isn’t Jesus amazing? Isn’t Christmas an amazing time to celebrate all that we have been given in Jesus? Verse 15, He is the image of the invisible, the firstborn all of creation. He is personable and powerful.
Sometimes I will have conversations with people about Jesus and they will say, “But if I believe in Jesus do I have to become a Republican? Do I have to dress different? Do I have to give up this habit or that habit? Do I have to reconcile with this person?”
I understand the question but I think we only ask those types of questions because we don’t understand the fullness of Jesus. Right?
If there is a God who is the source of all beauty, power, glory, wisdom and truth over all of humanity for all people, all times and all places and that God said, “I want to know you and I want you to know me for all of eternity” do you think our push back would be, “But do I have to vote for a specific political party in the United States?”
I am not saying you have to vote Republican. I am saying, “When you see the glory of Jesus you don’t care about the political parties.”
And, the glory of God made known in Jesus doesn’t come asking for permission. Jesus isn’t an accessory. That’s false teaching. That’s making your own form of Jesus. Does that make sense?
Jesus is supreme over all areas of our life. There’s no place off limits to Jesus. There’s only reordering of our life under Jesus. There’s only life-quaking disruption under Jesus.
This morning we are going to celebrate communion. Let’s lower the lights. Let’s invite our worship team to the stage. Let’s invite our elders to the front. The celebration of communion is the celebration of God taking on flesh, laying His life down at the cross and conquering death in the resurrection, so that through faith in Jesus we are able to know God.
The bread is a symbol of Jesus’ body, the juice a symbol of Jesus’ blood poured out at the cross, so that we might have life in Him, therefore, if you have yet to trust in Jesus we ask you to hold off and think about these questions.
Have you considered the Jesus of the bible? I am not talking about what we see in media or even what you see in our church in Austin but are you looking in Jesus made known in God’s Word?
When you look at Jesus’ life, death and resurrection you aren’t just considering if you want to keep coming to church on Sunday morning. You are considering Jesus call on your life to make Jesus the center of your life.
It doesn’t mean Jesus is at the center 100% of the time but that’s the desire of our heart to put Jesus at the center, therefore, as we celebrate communion I want to ask you to consider, “What’s stopping you from placing Jesus at the center of your life?” Wrestle with those questions and find answers to those questions.
It’s also possible that you are following Jesus but as you come forward for communion I want you to consider, “Is there any to re-ordering your life that needs to happen?” Jesus is supreme over all creation, is Jesus supreme over your life?
Maybe there is a relationship in your life that needs to be addressed? Maybe there is a decision in your family that needs to be made? Maybe there is a pattern of sin, happy to say you’re a follower of Jesus but you’re playing with sin? Won’t you put Jesus first? Won’t you turn from that sin, confess that sin, receive forgiveness through Jesus and put Jesus first?
Maybe you have been opening yourself up to the lies of the evil one? Won’t you turn from those lies, and turn to the One who is true and good? Maybe worry and fears are getting the best of you? Won’t you turn to Jesus, trust in Him?
Maybe there are some of us just running from Christmas event to Christmas event and go, go, go all the time? What if today you put Jesus first? Before you looked at your phone, before you started work, before you took a shower, just took 30 seconds in your heart to invite Jesus into your day?
We will have people at the back. I will pray for us and you come forward as you feel led.
North Village Church
This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.
Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.
North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.
You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.
Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.