Lesson

Only Jesus Shows Us God (Colossians 1:15-23)

Bible Passage: Colossians 1:15-23

This well-known passage is one of the clearest articulations of who Jesus is in the New Testament. It starts by declaring Jesus as the image of the invisible God, suggesting that it is only through Jesus that God is truly revealed, and then explains exactly what it is that Jesus shows us of God.

Jesus Reveals God as Creator (v15-17): When Jesus is introduced with the title ‘firstborn’ of all creation, this speaks of a position he holds rather than a chronological sequence. It is not teaching that Jesus was the first created being to exist, but that he holds the position of authority over creation that a firstborn Son would hold in the ancient world. He is the instrument of God’s creation. Everything that was made was done so by the Father, through the Son. He is the reason for creation. Everything that was made was made as a gift to the Son, and all will come together in him. He upholds and sustains creation. The Son is clearly on the ‘creator’ side of the creature/creator distinction, and should be honoured as creator God. Our lives only find their true meaning to the extent they are connected to him.

Jesus Reveals God as Lord (v18-19): These verses speak of the authority of Jesus. The first thing highlighted is his authority as head of the church. The church belongs to him and takes instruction from him. He has also shown his authority over death itself through his resurrection, the first of many to come. And he has authority as the centrepiece of the coming new creation. This authority is not independent of God, but because the fulness of God was pleased to dwell in him. Jesus is God in the flesh, and so carries the full authority of God.

Jesus Reveals God as Saviour (v20-23): Having established who Jesus is, Paul goes on to show what Jesus came to do. He reconciled all things to himself through the cross. In particular, he reconciled us to himself when we were estranged from him in our sin. Because of the cross we can be presented as holy and blameless before him. Jesus takes our sin onto himself and dies the death we deserve, giving us his righteousness in exchange. As he does so we are reconciled to him, and are part of his reconciling all things.

Potential Applications:

  • In this passage we see clearly who Jesus is and what he has done for us. You could invite people to put their trust in him for the first time.
  • This is a passage that stirs worship and adoration for Jesus. You can lead into a time of Christ exalting praise and worship.