First Place in Everything (Colossians 1:15-18)
The valedictorian of the graduating class of International Bible College received a nice study Bible each year. I was an excellent student, and I knew that I would be first in my class and get that Bible. When the college’s president announced the valedictorian at our graduation ceremony, I was actually starting to get up from my seat when another student’s name was announced. Beat, a student from Switzerland, had gotten an A in a class when I had gotten an A-. I came in second; I was awarded a decent study Bible, but it wasn’t the one I wanted.
I’m confident there have been times you seriously wanted to come in first. Maybe you were on a school sports team, and you wanted to win a game. Perhaps you were playing games with your family, and your competitive spirit showed itself. Maybe you volunteered on a political campaign, and you desperately wanted your candidate to win. Perhaps you interviewed for a position you—and many others—wanted, and you prayed you’d be hired. Guys, maybe there was a girl many fellas wanted to woo, and you hoped she’d chose you.
Jesus was never second, for “Jesus Christ has first place in everything.” This morning, we wish to examine Paul’s teaching and come to understand and live by the truth that “Jesus Christ has first place in everything.”
Scripture (Colossians 1:15-18)
Jesus is the image of the invisible God. In Greek, the idea of an “image” is something that shares in reality with what it represents. In other words, Jesus is the perfect likeness of God; he is—to put it simply—divine.
Jesus is the firstborn of all creation. Through the years, some heretics have taught this means Jesus was the first being God created. From this very text, that is an irresponsible, erroneous, and heretical conclusion. Paul had just written that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” In other words, Jesus is divine. Since he is divine, Jesus is eternal, and, therefore, uncreated.
Furthermore, Paul said that “all things were created through him and for him.” How could Jesus create himself? Jesus is clearly not created.
The term “firstborn” refers to a position of authority and honor like the firstborn son in the Old Testament. As the firstborn of all creation, therefore, Jesus has authority over creation and honor in creation.
By Jesus all things were created. Jesus is the means or the agency through which God made every single thing.
Through Jesus all things were created “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.” Through Jesus, all the angelic beings—with all their classifications and authorities—were created.
Paul referred to things “visible and invisible.” The idea of visible is likely things you see in the sky. Paul envisioned the heavens and earth like they are pictured in Genesis 1; in other words, heaven would include the sky as well as God’s eternal abode. Thus, visible things would be the stars, moon, planets, comets, and the like. The invisible would refer to the angelic beings.
All things were created through and for Jesus. Again, Paul emphasized Jesus as the means whereby the cosmos was created. “For him” means all things were created for Jesus’s glory.
Jesus is before all things. The word “he” is used emphatically here; Paul contrasted Jesus with created things. Jesus is eternal and has existed from eternity; of course, he is before all things.
In Jesus all things hold together. The cosmos—and everything in it—consists in Jesus. All the laws of nature reside in Jesus and come from Jesus.
Jesus is the head of the body, the church. “Head” here could mean “source”—In other words, Jesus is the founder of the church. “Head,” more than likely, however, refers to Jesus’s authority over the church. Jesus is the church’s authority only because he is the church’s source.
Jesus is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. The Old Testament had predicted the resurrection at the end of the age, and Jesus made that resurrection a reality. Jesus is the firstborn from the dead, for he is the first to die and be raised never to die again.
God designed all of this so that “in everything [Jesus] might be preeminent.” God designed the world through Jesus, put Jesus as the authority over the church, and made Jesus the firstborn from the dead so that he would have the place of honor above all.
“Jesus Christ has first place in in everything.” The application of that truth is really simple—you must give Jesus first place in your life. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 3:17). In our text, Paul gave three specific principles for how you give Jesus first place in your life.
Jesus has first place in the Creation.
So that Jesus might be preeminent he is “the firstborn of all creation.” Therefore, every single thing was created through Jesus, and every single thing is held together by Jesus.
Do you know what that means for your day-to-day life? It means you are a creation of God.
Jesus is the One through Whom God made man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Jesus is the One through Whom God formed you in your mother’s womb.
- “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps 139:13).
- “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer 1:5).
Because Jesus created you, you have purpose in life. One of the most destructive lies Satan has unleashed on the world is the theory of evolution. Kids in school are taught they are nothing more than an animal which has developed from a lower lifeform. Why be shocked when kids walk in a school and shoot their classmates? They’re acting like animals. Why be surprised by promiscuity among high school kids? They’re acting like animals. Why be surprised when kids leave the church? They’re animals which exist, not because of a Creator, but because of blind chance.
The truth is you were created by God through Jesus, and you have purpose. Solomon revealed that purpose: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl 12:13). You were created—not to make the world a better place or to make a name for yourself or to enjoy life—you were placed on this earth to fear God and keep his commandments.
You need to decide how you’re going to fear God and keep his commandments. How will you fear God and keep his commandments at home? How will you do so when you’re with your friends? How will you do so at work? How will you do so when you’re alone? How will you fulfill your life’s purpose and fear God and keep his commandments?
Jesus has first place in the Church.
So that Jesus might be preeminent “he is the head of the body, the church.” As the head of the church, Jesus built the church (Matt 16:18). As the head of the church, Jesus died for her (Acts 20:28; Eph 5:25).
Do you know what that means for your day-to-day life? It means you honor the church. One way you can honor the church is to pray for her. Jesus prayed for the church the night before he died (Jn 17:20-21). Paul prayed for the Colossian church (Col 1:3).
Pray fervently for this church. Start by thanking God for her. Then ask God to bless this church richly.
- Ask for his blessings on our shepherds.
- Ask for his blessings on me.
- Ask for his blessings that we might reach this community with the gospel.
- Ask for his blessings that we might always be one.
- Ask for his blessings that we might serve this community.
Another way to honor the church is to be active in the church. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-30, Paul described the church as a body where each member does his or her part. In a physical body, if a part is not performing correctly, the body becomes sick and can even die. Likewise with the church. For the body to be whole, each member needs to function properly.
Serve the church. Send a card to encourage someone, call to check on someone, volunteer to teach a class, or be reconciled with a brother. If you need an idea about how you can serve this church, ask the elders. I can guarantee you that they’ll put you to work.
Jesus has first place in the Crypt.
So that Jesus might be preeminent he is “the firstborn from the dead.” The truth is that Jesus’s resurrection foreshadows your resurrection. “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). “The dead in Christ will rise” (1 Thess 4:16).
Because Jesus’s resurrection means you will be raised, you don’t need to fear death. Jesus delivered his people from the fear of death (Heb 2:15). You don’t have reason to fear if the doctor gives you bad news—You have a home where no sickness can come. You have no reason to fear when confronted with your own mortality—You have a home where death will never come. You have no reason to worry as your body ages and wears down—You have a new, resurrected body waiting for you. Spend time thanking God for your future home eternal in the heavens.
Because “Jesus Christ has first place in everything,” he has first place in the Creation, in the Church, and in the Crypt.
But does he have first place in everything when it comes to your life? Does he control your life? Your heart? Your very existence?
Do you need to give him first place in everything this morning as we stand and sing?