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Have You Seen Jesus My Lord?--A Study in Colossians 1

by Robert J. Young
©, 2001, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Our study is in Col. 1:15-28. Reading the Bible is not easy. Reading one side of correspondence like listening to one side of phone conversation. We have the answers, but not the questions. We have the advice, but not the situation.

I tell you today about a church in trouble. This church is threatened both from within and without. This church desperately needs to act. What is the nature of the trouble that threatens the life and faith of the church at Colossae? We can identify at least two sources: negatively in Paul's written rebukes, positively in what Paul stresses with passion and intensity.

First, this is a church beguiled, fascinated with Siren Songs, intrigued by philosophy, following human traditions, making religion into rules and regulations, externalizing piety, legalistic in its ascetic isolation, devotion to special observances, and self-abasement. Here is a church needing to hear again about Jesus, to stress the inclusiveness of the Christian gospel which is for every person, to be reminded that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a global cause becaus of the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ.

When a church forgets Jesus, it is always in danger. But this forgetting is so subtle it surfaces as mere misdirection. Long before Christianity came into world, some loathed the physical body. These saw the body as a tomb. Plato speaks of the prison house of the body. Seneca refers to the detestable habitation of the body. Such ideas issued in a distinct dualism--the separation of body and spirit. Among those adopting some version of dualism were the Monastics, Ascetics, Stoics, Epicureans, and Cynics.

Where does evil come from? The answer one gives has a serious effect on one's Christology. It is impossible to believe in the incarnation if the physical body is evil. Thus the Gnostics held to a limited incarnation. Ultimately, dualism in the early centuries of the Christian era wrecked morality, destroyed fellowship, and decimated Christian joy.

The church is always imperiled when misunderstandings of Jesus occur, for such alter our faith and life. Paul could have taken the negative approach of arguing and contradicting the various false teachers, but instead he chose the method of restating the Christian gospel in all its splendor! Let me tell you about Jesus! Our text may hold reflections of an early Christian hymn.

1. Consider the person of Jesus (Col. 1:15).
He is the very REFLECTION of God. He is the image or character of God, the visible manifestation of the invisible. He was before all things--both by position and in point of time. He is the firstborn, preeminent, creator--thus God. He is the cohesive, adhesive that holds the world together. In response, we worship.

2. Consider the position and preeminence of Jesus (Col. 1:18).
He is the REIGNING one. He is the head of the church, the beginning, the firstborn, the one overcoming death. He is the bonding power as we share loyalty and allegiance. He is supreme. He is the very fulness of God in physical form. In response, we share fellowship--with one another and with him. We seek to grow in him and he in us.

3. Consider the power and purpose of Jesus (Col. 1:19ff).
He is the RECONCILING one--redeeming, reconciling, making peace, through his blood. He is eliminator of alienation, the undoer of enmity, the solution to evil. He reconciles us, raises us to be God's, presenting us holy/blameless. In response, we share good news.

Paul concludes this great Christology by urging the Colossian church to "hold on and continue" (Col. 1:23ff) Hold on to faith, hold on to hope, hold on to the gospel--glorious, global. The mysterious is now known. The glorious riches of the gospel are for all. The reflecting, reigning, reconciling one is present in our lives. Not only so, but our very hope of glory is that Christ is in us, among us, through us. This we proclaim, for all, admonishing, teaching, seeking wisdom, presenting all in Christ, struggling with total energy from him working in us and through us.

Have you seen Jesus? Let us proclaim him!

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Last updated February 21, 2001.