15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
We all have Christmas songs that we like to play on our stereos and iPods that remind us that "Christmas Time Is Here." That one that will do it for me from Charlie Brown's Christmas. Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" is another. Music from the movie "Polar Express" will turn me into a kid in an instant and gets me pumped for Christmas. Moving from the secular to the sacred, I love Michael W. Smith's first Christmas Album. Ray Charles' rendition of the familiar Christmas song, "What Child Is This?" is running through my head as I reflect on the passage above that was part of my devotions this morning. If you are familiar with it it's probably in your head now, too.
What is the apostle Paul telling me and telling the church at Colossae about this child we know as Christ the Lord?
He tells us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. The invisible is made visible. What we could not see or fully comprehend, we now can see and begin to understand. He was not created as we were. He was involved in the Creation itself. All of creation is for Christ. Paul refers to Jesus as the "firstborn of all creation." The hearers of Paul's letter would have understood this term not as the first thing God created, but as have the same rank, privilege and position of the firstborn. As we read our Old and New Testament we read over and over the value God places on the firstborn. So therefore, we can understand the statement that all of creation is for Christ. It's His. It was created for Him.
He is the head of the church. The church is His.
Not only is Jesus the image of God. All of God, "the fullness of God", dwells in Him. In our culture we place a lesser value on a copy of the original. We may find the copy to be interesting, but we don't value it as highly as the original. The fullness of God dwells in Christ, who was involved in Creation.
Jesus was not only fully God, He was fully human. In Paul's account we see the terms "fleshly body", "blood", and "death."
Colossians 1:21-23 (NASB)
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
Here's the best part. The Firstborn, the Creator of all things, was given so that all things could be reconciled to Himself, the One to whom all things belong. He came to restore broken relationships with God. He came to restore broken relationships with His people, even though we "were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds." Though we were ugly and undeserving, He gave Himself through death "in order to present [us] before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach."
What a gift we are given! The God of all things is given as a ransom for us. This is reason to celebrate!