The Supremacy of Christ
Colossians • Sermon • Submitted
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In 1893 over 21 million people visited the city of Chicago from all over the world to attend the famous World’s Columbian Exposition also known as the Chicago World’s Fair. With the arrival of so many people from all over the world many different groups and breakout conferences were created.
Among them was one called the World’s Parliament of Religions. The focus of this group was to bring together different voices from world religions to create a global dialogue on faith and practice and to even consider whether a new global religion could be created.
An evangelist by the name of D.L. Moody saw this immense global gathering of people as an opportunity to share Christ. And so, he commissioned many other evangelists and strategically placed them all over the city in what he called “preaching posts.” He put them in churches, he rented theaters and even rented a circus tent where he held gatherings for people to come and hear the gospel.
Many of his colleagues and friends were pressuring him to attack the “World’s Parliament of Religions” but he actually refused to do so. Not because he agreed with what they were seeking to accomplish but because his goal was to preach the supremacy, the glory, the beauty of Christ knowing Jesus was sufficient enough to draw people. Moody said in response to those wanting him to attack that, “I am going to make Jesus Christ so attractive that men [and women] will turn to him.”
And they did indeed in droves. Moody’s strategy of simply proclaiming the supremacy of Jesus drew tens of thousands of people and thousands saw Jesus as supreme gave their life to him. The “Chicago Campaign” as it became known is considered the greatest evangelistic work of Moody’s life.
And when you think about it, it’s nothing new. In fact, this “strategy” of evangelism, if we even want to call it that finds its genesis in the ministry of the Apostolic church. This was what we saw the apostle Paul do throughout his ministry. He’d go into a city, observe the culture, find out where people were gathering and begin to teach the supremacy of Jesus. And the church grew and expanded exponentially.
It’s what we see taking place in Colossians and in our text before us this morning. Remember what the Colossians were facing. It was a plethora of world religions and philosophies all around them. The Jewish religion was telling them that what they needed to hold fast to was the law. That if they wanted to curry favor with God then they needed to live a perfect life of obedience. The Gnostics were telling them that what they needed most was knowledge and enlightenment. Others were teaching that in order to climb the spiritual ladder of success they needed to remove all earthly pleasures from their life. Still others were saying that they needed to worship angels and have mystical and spiritual experiences.
The Colossians were experiencing on a daily basis a “World’s Parliament of Religions” and they were struggling. And so, Paul’s response to this buffet of pluralistic philosophies and religions was to showcase the supremacy of Christ overall.
About 15 years ago a man in Fresno, California went to a yard sale and came across a box of old photo negatives. He recognized some of the images and purchased the box of negatives for about $45. After doing a bit more research he discovered that these photo negatives were taken by the famed photographer, Ansel Adams. The collection was priced out experts and valued at over 200 million dollars.
This is what Jesus is like in the midst of every other belief system or philosophy. He’s the priceless treasure in the midst of rubbish. And so, let’s turn our gaze this morning to the supremacy of Christ overall.
Number one: Christ is supreme over all other gods.
Number one: Christ is supreme over all other gods.
Look at the first part of verse 15 again.
Colossians 1:15a, He is the image of the invisible God.
Now, what do we know about God?
We know he is holy – set apart.
Isaiah 43:15, I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.
We know nothing compares to him.
Isaiah 40:25, To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? Says the Holy One.
We know he owns everything.
Psalm 50:12, If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.
We know he is fully deserving of all glory, honor and praise.
Isaiah 42:8, I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
This, and so much more is who God is. Nothing compares to his greatness, his splendor, his glory, his holiness. He is ultimate, he is supreme. And Jesus is the perfect image of this invisible, glorious, holy God.
The apostle John in his gospel highlights this same reality. He opens up his gospel by pointing us to the revealed Word of God, Jesus Christ.
John 1:1-2, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
John 1:14, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:18, No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
No one had ever seen God, until Jesus, God the Son, the second person of the Trinity became flesh and dwelt among us.
Jesus perfectly portrayed the personal character of God to the world. He revealed to us what God is really like. And so, what this means is that if you want to know how gracious God is, then read the story of Jesus’ grace and forgiveness in John 8 of the woman caught in adultery and thrown before Jesus by the religious leaders. What’s his response? “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” After everyone walks away he asks the woman who is there accusing her. “No one” she says. “Neither do I condemn you” Jesus says.
If you want to know how powerful God is, then read the story in Matthew 8 of Jesus calming a raging storm by speaking to the storm telling it to calm down.
If you want to see the heart of God, then read story after story throughout the gospels of Jesus healing the outcasts of society.
Jesus images to us who and what God is like because Jesus himself is God in the flesh.
In a world filled with false idols, false gods, humanistic exaltation Jesus reigns supreme.
Number two: Christ is supreme over all the universe.
Number two: Christ is supreme over all the universe.
See this truth in the last part of verse 15.
Colossians 1:15b-17, 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.
What’s Paul revealing here about the supremacy of Christ over all creation? Four things to note.
Number 1. Jesus is the firstborn of all creation.
Now what’s this mean? Let’s unpack this because false religions will take this verse and twist it to say something it is not saying. For example, if you ever find yourself having a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness, and let me encourage you to have conversations with them if they come to your door. What you will find is that pretty early into the conversation they will take you to this verse in their bible, which has changed, but they will point to this verse to show that Jesus is not God but in fact, was created by God.
Now, this is why context is so important when studying and reading God’s word. It’s going to become very evident in the very next sentence of Christ’s presence and power in creation itself and though the word “firstborn” can mean “first child” it more than often is referring to someone that is first in rank or chief above others.
And that’s exactly what the context points to here. Jesus is not the first created being, he is supreme in rank over all that has been created.
And that’s because of what Paul says in verse 16. “For by him all things were created.”
Number 2. Jesus is the creator.
This should be most obvious to Christ’s supremacy over the universe. He is supreme because it exists because of him. All things visible and invisible exist because of Jesus. Every star, every moon, every comet in the universe is there because of Jesus. Every mountain, every river, every grain of sand, every animal and every person exists because Jesus created out of his splendor and glory and power. Every atom, every molecule, all the things that exist that we cannot see with our eyes still has the stamp of Christ seared into it.
Even the angelic realm is subservient to the supremacy of Christ. When Paul talks about thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities, he’s not just addressing that all human authorities and institutions belong to Christ, they do, but even angelic authorities and powers were created by Jesus himself.
It was Abraham Kuyper who once said,
“No single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” – Abraham Kuyper
Number 3. Jesus is the ultimate goal of all creation.
Paul says that not only were all things created by him, but they were created for him. Which means that all things exist ultimately to point to his glory.
This is what the Psalmist exclaims in Psalm 19.
Psalm 19:1, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Jesus, God the Son, existing with God the Father and God the Spirit from eternity past, out of his glory spoke creation into existence and because all things have seared within them the tagline, “Made by Jesus” then all things ultimately exist for the primary purpose of pointing back to Jesus his greatness, glory and supremacy.
You exist, I exist for no other grander reason and purpose than to reflect the greatness and glory and supremacy of Christ over all things. We are to live for no other ultimate reason than to reveal to the universe how awesome Jesus is.
It’s why Paul later on in this letter will say that our daily work is not done to please men, but that we work “unto the Lord.”
Or in his letter to the Corinthian church he’ll tell them that whether they eat or drink or whatever they do, do all to the glory of God.
What is this revealing? It’s revealing that all things exist for Christ. He is the end, he is the goal.
Number 4. Jesus is the sustainer of all creation.
And so, he is supreme over all creation because it remains because he says so. That’s again what he says in verse 17, “in him all things hold together.”
The author of Hebrews says it like this.
Hebrews 1:3, 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.
Kent Hughes in his commentary on Colossians shares a story about a South American company who purchased a printing press from a firm in the United States. The press was shipped to the company where workers there assembled it. However, they could not get the printing press to operate correctly. Their most skilled workers were called to attempt to fix the machine but they were unable to do so.
And so, this South American company wired a message to the manufacturer asking for them to send someone to fix the machine. A young man was sent to fix the printing press. When he arrived the South American officials were very skeptical. This man was too young and too inexperienced to know what to do. And so after some discussion and putting down of the young man, they wired the firm this message, “Your man is too you; send a more experienced person.” The reply came back: “He made the machine. He can fix it.”
All things exist because Jesus says they exist, and all things continue to exist because he says they can exist. He made it all and he sustains it all. That’s power. That’s glory. That’s supremacy.
In a sea of false gods and idols, Jesus shines brightly as the one who reigns and rules supreme. We are made for him.
Christ is supreme over all other gods. Christ is supreme over all creation and lastly,
Number three. Christ is supreme over the church.
Number three. Christ is supreme over the church.
Colossians 1:18, 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.
The church belongs to Jesus.
In Matthew 16 Jesus says to Peter, “I will build my church.” And nothing will stop it.
And the church is not a building made with brick and wood and mortar. It’s made up of people; people who have been bought and purchased with the blood of Christ.
Paul tells the Corinthian church in his letter to them, listen, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.”
The church does not belong to a pope or bishop. It doesn’t belong to any one pastor or plurality of elders. The church does not belong to any one person on this earth. The one who stands at the head directing, building and guiding the church is Jesus Christ.
Why? Because he is the one who went to the grave and rose in power and victory over death. He is preeminent – surpassing all others. He is the one who is building his church by reconciling us back to the Father.
Colossians 1:19-23, 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. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
It’s Jesus, who through his life, death and resurrection has made a way for all things in heaven and on earth to be reconciled and made new again. It’s why we have hope in a day when death, pain and suffering will no longer exist. Christ is making all things new.
It’s through Jesus that we can come before God the Father and be reconciled to him. It’s because of Jesus alone that God the Father sees us as holy and blameless in his sight. It’s not through any work of our own. It’s not through attaining spiritual enlightenment, it’s not through a superior knowledge that we work ourselves out of the hole we’re in.
No, it’s Christ and Christ alone. He is supreme.
The supremacy of Jesus above all drastically changes who we are.
When Jesus is seen as supreme above all false gods and idols, then we can joyfully pursue him as our greatest delight and treasure. Sin begins to lose its allure because when compared to Jesus, it’s rubbish.
When Jesus is seen as supreme over all creation and the goal of creation then we live for him and not the things of this world. No longer do we see fame and fortune as our end but rather the treasure of Jesus. When we grasp that all things are held together by him then we look to him as the ultimate solution to our difficulty and struggles in life. Right? Because he made it, he can fix it.
When Jesus is seen as supreme over the church, we recognize that he is preeminent. He is before all things and therefore he must be first in every area of our life. He must be first in our families and marriages and relationships. He is first in our singleness. He must be first in our professions. He is first in our studies. He is first in our mission and ministry. He is first in how we spend our time. He is first in our love, our conversations with others, he is first in how we play and rest. He is first in our worship.
Is Jesus supreme in your life? Let’s confess where we fall short and then look to Jesus as the one who has made us right and reconciled us back to the Father.