And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead…
I. AS TO HIS PERSONALITY. He stands unique. All the elements in His make up to which the term human can be applied show Him to be pre-eminently human. He came into the world by the gateway of the Hebrew nation, but He is not a Jew. He belonged to 1800 years ago, and yet He is of no age. He spent His days and nights under the Eastern skies, but He is of no clime. He gathers up into Himself all the best elements in Jewish, Greek, and Roman life. tie was pre-eminently moral and devotional; He was in sympathy with everything beautiful; He glorified the moral law, was loyal to the national, and had worldwide ambitions, only, unlike those of Rome, they were benevolent.
II. AS TO HIS IDEAS OF GOD AND MAN. The test of pre-eminence of nature is largeness of idea on these themes.
1. The idea Christ gave us of God was pre-eminent. No one ever approached it. There had been many attempts to put the nature of God into a word, but all had failed till He said "Father."
2. So with His idea of the nature of man. The noblest man among the Jews was the chief of the Pharisees or Sadducees; among the Greeks the most physically beautiful; among the Romans the strong man able to trample every one who was in His path into the dust. Under the influence of Jesus the noblest man is the gentlest, humanest, chastest, and most charitable. This is a new idea.
3. Other ideas help us to see how pre-eminently Jesus was the world's greatest thinker, such as the brotherhood of man; the idea that love of God is best expressed in the service of man, the idea that the worst man may be saved.
III. AS TO HIS MISSION IN THE WORLD. NO other man ever carried on such a mission or was capable of entertaining the idea of it. It was to bring a revolted world back into such an allegiance as is worthy of God to accept and man to give; not forced, but based on love. The accomplishment of such a mission seems to us impossible, but in individuals it has been accomplished, and will yet be in the whole world.
IV. AS TO UNBIASSED HUMAN OPINION OF HIM. Only one conspicuous man in the world of literature has been blind to His excellency — Voltaire; but Rousseau, another great sceptic, wrote, "If the life and death of Socrates be those of a saint, the life and death of Jesus are those of a God." Napoleon I., the old Roman, back again in the Christian centuries, said, "I know men, Jesus was not a man."
(R. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.