Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:…
The truth taught in our text is that Christ is all and in all, the one absolute Mediator between God and man, the only Reconciler of heaven and earth. We notice -
I. THE DIVINE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST. This includes:
1. His supremacy in relation to God. He is his Image, Likeness, Representation. Heathen idolatries utter the longing of the soul for him. To the prayer, "Show us the Father," Christ answers, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."
2. His supremacy in relation to nature. He is "the Firstborn." To all creation he stands as Heir. We notice:
(1) His creative agency. Christ is the Wisdom of God; Christ is the Word of God; Christ is the Arm of God.
(2) His sustaining energy. He binds all things together.
(3) His consummating glory. He is the End of creation, the Alpha and the Omega. As the bow of Ulysses could only be bent by its master, so creation only fully responds to the touch of Christ.
3. His supremacy in relation to the Church. He is the Head. This implies sovereignty and sympathy - vital union. We say that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." In an infinitely higher sense the blood of Christ is the seed of the Church.
4. His supremacy in relation to the Resurrection. He is "the Firstborn from the dead." The risen Christ is the life of the Church.
II. THE EXPLANATION OF THIS DIVINE PRE-EMINENCE IS THE DIVINE PLENITUDE, Christ is as supreme as the apostle has been describing because he is so full of God. He is the Pleroma. This, as Archdeacon Farrar shows, is the keynote of the Epistle. When we say this, we mean that in Jesus is found "the 'totality of Divine attributes and powers." For in him there is:
1. Fulness of might. He is manifested in his miracles and in his own resurrection as the Lord of nature. Its forces are subject to him.
2. Fulness of wisdom. He claims, and as far as can be these claims are verified, to reveal God and to know what is in man. He did not misinterpret the Divine nor misunderstand the human.
3. Fulness of love. God is love. But could there be an amplitude of love beyond that which is manifested in Jesus Christ? Where is the love of God and where the God of love, if not in Jesus?
III. THE WORK OF CHRIST IN HIS PRE-EMINENCE AND PLENITUDE IS THE WORK OF RECONCILIATION. Our Lord is thus set forth as in his supremacy and fulness the great Reconciler. This is God's purpose; nay, God's passion. But all words are faint in describing any emotion in the infinite heart. The clear teaching here is, not that God loves because Christ died, but that Christ died because God loves. Reconciliation is the Father's desire, the Father's work. Much is left in necessary mystery, but Paul's words here answer for us two great questions.
1. What is God reconciling to himself through Christ? We must not be afraid of the assertion - "all things." By that I read all things
(1) in this world's activities and institutions;
(2) in human hearts and minds. The whole universe of being is to find its lapsed harmony in Jesus Christ; to be set again in its right relation to the righteous Father.
2. How is God reconciling all things to himself through Jesus Christ? Such a work involves even Divine effort; such a work is worth accomplishing at a tremendous cost. Hence "the blood of the cross," i.e. life poured out in a sacrifice of utmost pain and darkest shame. The highest can only serve through suffering; the mightiest can only save by sacrifice. Three practical questions.
(1) Has Christ pre-eminence in all things with us? Do all our sheaves make obeisance to his in the great field of life and love?
(2) Is Christ the Plenitude of all things to us? Kepler felt, in studying the laws of nature, that he was thinking over again the thoughts of God. Is it so with us in duty, thought, and love? Is Christ all in all?
(3) Has Christ reconciled us to God? Are we
(b) resigned; and
(c) most difficult of all, ceaselessly obedient to God? - U. R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: