Who Is Jesus?
Bible Text: Colossians 1:13-20 | Speaker: Bobby Gaither | Series: Belonging In Christ: Membership at Hope Fellowship | The 1970’s band, Three Dog Night, sang “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” Many writers have expanded on the idea of loneliness and thus said it is not merely the result of being trapped on an island with a volleyball named Wilson. As my favorite contemporary poet, Jon Forman, stated “you can be alone on a crowded street.” Loneliness is a pervading and isolating human experience — so much that we believe we are alone in our loneliness, as expressed by the late Tom Petty, “you don’t know how it feels to be me.”
You may be asking: why begin our Membership series talking about loneliness? At the root of what humanity has expressed regarding loneliness is a divine desire for belonging. It presents as loneliness, but loneliness is merely the symptom of something lacking. True belonging is more than being with people of similar interests. And, like a baby with yellow skin from jaundice, the solution doesn’t come in a pill or syringe, but from beholding the sun/Son.
But we like our medications and quick-fixes, don’t we? Humans look for ways to alleviate loneliness through activity with others. Bowling leagues. Quilting. Softball. Book clubs. Coffee shops. Bars. All places people go to be in a community of like-minded individuals. But, even among a people with a common interest, the divine desire is not satiated, only masked. Like make-up atop the face, it merely covers the appearance of yellow skin— the appearance of loneliness. It is true that a common love binds people together. But the power of that bond, the strength and security of that community, is not in the people who gather but the object of their affection.
Our membership series, Belonging In Christ, speaks to loneliness with the only true solution that answers the divine longing of every human heart: the divine Son of God, Jesus Christ. Our longing to know and be known by God is innate, and hardwired into a humanity that was made to behold and image Him. It is not until our identity rests in Jesus, the perfect Son of God, that our belonging is secure. It is only then that we experience true community in the body of Christ. He brings us into community by fusing us together in Him. John 17:20–23 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us,… The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one…(ESV)
The answer for belonging is not found in a group with your same likes and dislikes. The answer for belonging is being fused together with Christ, who brings us into His body, the fellowship of believers.
Did you catch that? We, the church, become one together— me, you, and all who call Jesus Christ Lord, in and through Christ. There is no greater bond, no greater power, no greater glory than Jesus, who possesses the power over life and death. My love and commitment to you, and yours to me, and other Christ followers in this room, is anchored in the love that Christ has for His Church. That will never change. It is an impenetrable bond that was secured in Christ!
Therefore, the most important question we have to answer, and from which we build our series, is this: Who is Jesus? This morning, we will anchor ourselves in Colossians 1. Together we will look at the Person, the Work, and the Worship of Christ. Would you open your Bible’s to Colossians 1. We will begin reading in verse 9 but will focus on v13-20. Please stand with me for the reading of God’s word.
 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;  being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  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.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  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.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV)
[pray]The Person of Christ
As was said in the introduction, our unity together is based on the person of Christ. We have been united with Him, and to that degree, we are united together as the Church. Therefore, my aim this morning is to show the passage through a Christological lens. This is our aim every Sunday: to see the glory of God in scripture. We typically approach the scripture and seek to understand the questions the text would ask, and then of ourselves to know how we ought respond. However, this morning we come to the text with the question: Who is Jesus? For that reason, we start our exposition in verse 13. We will go verse by verse and draw lines between this passage of scripture others in an attempt to paint a biblical picture of the Christ.
 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
We must note that the first “He” is said of God the Father. God the Father has delivered us from darkness. God the Father and Jesus the Son were never at odds. Jesus was not on a rescue mission to save us over and against the will of the Father. It was the will of the Father that you and I have salvation in and through the Son. But on to Christ:
The Son is King! He has a kingdom. He sits on his Father’s throne. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (Psa 24:1)! He stretches out the heavens! He set’s his chambers on the waters (Psa 104)! He is clothed with splendor and majesty!
And He is ruler of all kings. He is King of kings.
… Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
And He is our Redeemer
 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
We were captive, slaves of sin, in the kingdom of darkness, enemies of the kingdom of God, and now we have been redeemed. Our transgressions were paid for, and we were bought, purchased by the King’s blood. The King of kings laid down his life to redeem His church, his bride. He is a loving King. A Redeeming King
This is Revelation 1:5: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood (ESV)
Jesus is the King, and Redeemer.
 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Jesus is the image of God. We must understand what a miracle this is. For us to see God is unthinkable. In Exodus 33:20, God spoke to Moses and said, “… man shall not see me and live.” (ESV)
When Isaiah had a vision of God in His throne room, his response was,“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5 ESV)
Yet John writes, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:18 ESV)
And Jesus himself said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”(John 14:9).
And in Hebrews we read of the Son, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV)
[He is ] the firstborn of all creation.  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.
We hold as trinitarian evangelicals, that Jesus was begotten, not created. This is an important doctrine that if we lose, the gospel unravels. Don’t be confused by the word “firstborn.” In that day, the firstborn inherited all property and valuables from the patriarch. In other words, should I have lived and died in that time, Josiah would get my lawn mover, the leaf blower, my car, my fluffy high school flannel from 1997, my dirty underwear, AND everything of Tiffany’s if she doesn’t outlive him. Jordan, Jude, and JJ are on their own.
Now, what was he saying about Jesus? Look at verse 16. It starts with the word For… Paul was telling his readers why he used the term firstborn. For by him all things were created… through him and for him. The preexistent Son of God became man. The Eternal Creator became part of His finite creation. He must be of first importance, the owner and inheritor of all creation. Jesus owns all things. He created, and rules over all things. Paul wrote the word “firstborn” to signify the preeminence of Christ, that he already owned all creation, and as a man would inherit it all from His Father.
Look further down to verse 18b. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
He is firstborn because he’s preeminent in all things, as he is the beginning! Paul wants us to think to Genesis: “In the beginning, God…” and John 1:1 “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” Jesus was first.
Furthermore, all things were created through Him and for Him. Creation was a gift from God to God, and this was good! Jesus, the Son of God become man, inherits, owns, and rules all things! He designed them, made them, and they exist for His purposes.
 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Paul asserts again that Jesus is deity, co-eternal with the Father. He is before all things.
When Moses asked God how to announce His name to the people of Israel, God instructed Moses to say, “I AM WHO I AM.” (Ex 3:14 ESV). In this name God revealed that He is self-existent. Jesus also used the name, I AM to announce himself. He declared himself self-existent with the pharisees and said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58).
Jesus also stated to his disciples, I am the light of the world, I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the gate. I am the Good Shepherd, living water, bread of life, the resurrection and the life, and the true vine (Jhn 8:12, 10:9, 10:11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:1).
And in Him all things hold together
He is the maker and sustainer of all things. Hebrews 1:3 we’ve already read, “He upholds the universe by the word of His power.” There is no molecule in the cosmos that is not bound together by the will of Jesus.
Do you know science affirms this? They know molecules and atoms bind together, but they cannot tell you why. In Him all things hold together. Without Him, all things would unravel.
Jesus is Sovereign! This is good news friends. There is no one else I’d rather have be sovereign, rule and reign over all creation, and bring to their appointed end, then Jesus, the perfect Son of God.
 And he is the head of the body, the church.
What you and I need to understand is that this is not my church. Nor is this your church. This is His church! Christ is the head of this church! He didn’t die and make another man king, but he rose from the grave because He is the King! And as King, he directs the church body to do His will.
The head directs the body. It is within the head that the mind operates, and the will of the body is formulated. It then sends signals to the body to carry out that will. This means when we seek to make decisions, we don’t operate according to what we want, but we operate according to what He wants. This is important, for we must know that we are His church if we obey Him.
John 14:5, Jesus states, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
May it be known that one who is part of the body of Christ is one who loves Him and adheres to His commandments. He does not have an arm that operates according to its own will; that’s not his arm. He does not have a wild branch, but he prunes that branch and brings it under his direction and care. And His church, in obedience to Christ, moves forward against the gates of Hell.
In the book of Matthew (16:15-18), Jesus asked his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (ESV)
He is the King, who is head of the church. Christ is the only King who is able to be so.
18b He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
There’s the word again: firstborn. Jesus was the first to have a glorified body, one incorruptible by death. How this is so— scholars debate. That’s not the point of our message today, only that Christ is first, for He is God. He is fully man, and fully God, for… verse 19
 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
In Jesus, the man, encompassed all the fullness of God. In a human being, the fullness of deity existed. Theologians refer to this as the hypostatic union. Jesus was fully God, and fully man. 100% God, and 100% man. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Even Yogi Berra never claimed 200%!
Todd Miles, borrowing an analogy from another seminary professor, explained it like this: you have an Aston Martin Valkyrie (the most expensive sports car). You take that sports car off-road and it’s caked with mud, so much that the color of the sports car glimmers through in mere cracks of the earth-frosted body. It’s still 100% Aston Martin. And, It’s 100% covered in earth.
Jesus was 100% deity, clothed, 100% in humanity. The fullness of God became flesh and dwelt in the earthly body of Jesus… and was pleased to do so…
Why? Why would the God of all the cosmos be pleased to become part of His creation? Why would he be pleased to come live among us? To experience, in body, the pain, the hurt, the rejection, and the physical suffering and death he endured?
Remember, last week, we stated that sin was a human problem. It needed a human solution. We, as the image bearers of mankind, have dishonored our Creator. We are the cause of the hostility between man and God. We are the instigator of the war— and we chose God as our enemy! In doing so, we threw mud at his face, and attempted to suppress the glory that belongs to Him.
Because of that dishonor, all mankind deserves death. This would be just, but it would not display the fullness of the character of God. The death of all humanity would only display the justice of God, it would not reveal His mercy and lovingkindness.
So, why? Why would the God of the cosmos be pleased to become part of His creation and suffer like he did?
Hebrews 12:2 is our answer: …Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…
Why did he become flesh? Why was God pleased to dwell in flesh? Why did he endure the cross? For the joy of redeeming you! This is the work of Christ.The Work of Christ
 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV)
Through Jesus, you and I have been reconciled to God. In the war we wrongfully waged against God, He has sent his Son with the white flag of the gospel. He rode onto the battlefield himself, and did not send another emissary. This was a war we had not the right nor the power to fight, and God was pleased to send His Son, and Jesus was pleased to redeem His fallen humanity, for Himself. He made peace by His blood. He traded His life for the life of all humanity, and Jesus was and is so glorious, that his blood purchased man and woman from every tribe, tongue, and language. He has made peace between man and God.
The church are the people whom accept the white flag. It is an offer of peace before we are utterly destroyed, a plea to be reconciled and to live. Humanity is fighting a war with God, one they cannot win. Jesus crossed enemy lines, became one of us, in order to offer himself to God on our behalf. We come to the cross and surrender our life because He came to the earth to surrender His life for ours. In Christ, God has declared a cease fire. Do you hear it? Do you see it? Do you come and submit yourself to it? This is the work of Christ.
In heaven he is the Lamb that was slain, seated at the right hand of the Father. But He will return as the Lion of Judah, and put all things under his feat. All rule, all authorities, all powers, all people. And he will rightfully, and gloriously, demand worship.
The Worship of Christ
Jesus was worshiped at his birth by foreigners (Matt 2:11), at his resurrection by his disciples (Matt 28:9), and we read he was worshiped in heaven by the angels. This is Hebrews 1:6
 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (ESV)
He will be worshiped at the end of time, for all eternity, by all creatures:
 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,  the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (ESV)
He is worthy of worship for His power and might, and his meekness and majesty. He is worthy as our sacrificial lamb, as our King, as the head of our church. And because He is worthy, our worship ought be genuine. If it is anything less, we spit on his face with our words and actions.
So, what does this mean for us, the church at Hope Fellowship?
Recall that we began this morning by pointing to the divine longing of the soul, a longing to belong. We all want and need to belong, and that longing can only be filled by the one who put it there. And, people are united together not by love of each other, but by the love of God. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and gave himself for us as the propitiation of our sins! Propitiation means wrath bearer. We are brought together in community,
FIRST because the King of the Cosmos loved us, and keeps us! He initiates and keeps us in His community.
SECOND, we are in community because our hearts have turned to love Him! Jesus, the Son of God, by whom and for whom all things were created, is the only one worthy of all our love and affection. This makes us a worshiping community! Friends, we are a worshiping community when we love Him! We are an obedient community when we love Him! We express our belonging to Him and to each other when we worship Him.
THIRD, the strength of that belonging is the unbreakable love of Jesus. We have, together, here, in this body of believers, the strongest force in all heaven and earth, binding us together: Jesus, who is God.
SO, the church is a place of belonging because we belong to Jesus. And because we belong to Him, we love as He loved, we give as He give, we serve as He served. And our commitment to each other is rooted in our commitment to Him. Do you love Christ? Are you committed to Him? That means you must be committed to the church! What a security that is!
Friends, as a member of this church, I love you because I love Him. My love for you will never change, so long as I love him. That means I have grace for you because I have grace from him. My grace towards you will never change, for His grace for me is new every morning. Will we have conflict? YES! Sometimes the elbow strikes the knee! But we don’t dismember ourselves, we learn and we heal together, ministering to each other. We love and care for each other as Christ loved His church. This is what it means to have Belonging In Christ.