Christ the King Sunday

November 24, 2019

Colossians 1:13-20

Our Supreme King!

 

 

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  (NIV1984)

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

As you are reading through the Old Testament Scriptures— especially books such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel— it is nothing short of miraculous to see how God’s Plan of Salvation for this world includes both the rise and fall of not only individual kings but also entire kingdoms.  Take King Nebuchadnezzar for example.  King Nebuchadnezzar ruled over the Babylonian Empire— the empire that conquered the Nation of Judah and carried God’s people into exile.  To this day King Nebuchadnezzar is known as a brilliant soldier and a phenomenal builder.  (Think of the hanging gardens of Babylon)  And yet, what became of King Nebuchadnezzar?  He died and his empire eventually fell.  After King Nebuchadnezzar we learn about King Cyrus.  Cyrus smashed the Babylonian Empire and established the empire of the Medes and Persians.  And yet, what became of King Cyrus?  He died and his empire eventually collapsed.  After Cyrus came a man by the name of Alexander the Great.  With an army of just 30,000 soldiers Alexander the Great conquered the Medo-Persian Empire in just twelve short years!  At the ripe old age of 30 Alexander became master of the world.  His Greek Empire would control and influence this world for hundreds of years.  And yet, what became of Alexander the Great?  He died and his vast empire was carved up by his four generals.

 

What point am I trying to make here, my friends?  My point is actually very simple.  There have been a number of men who have attained the goal of becoming what some might call the “supreme king.”  Humanly speaking they ruled with absolute power and control.  Humanly speaking no one could stand up against them.  And yet, what happened to every single one of those so-called “supreme kings”?  They died!  And once they had died their empires fell or collapsed or were carved up by others.  Look back over the course of history, my friends.  Eventually every king dies.  Eventually every kingdom collapses— except for one!

 

As you and I gather together on this last Sunday in the Christian church year our goal is to focus on the fact that there is only one King who truly is supreme!  On the basis of these words of Scripture let’s see how our Brother Jesus is:  Our Supreme King!  There are three things we want to see from this text.  First, let’s see that our Brother Jesus will always be our Supreme King because He is the Creator of all things.  Second, let’s see that as our Supreme King our Brother Jesus will always be the Head of the Church.  Finally, let’s see why it is important for us to believe, teach and confess that our Brother Jesus will always be our Supreme King.

 

Let’s start with verses 15-17 of our text.  Paul says concerning Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

 

In John chapter fourteen one of Jesus’ disciples said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” (John 14:8)  Do you remember how Jesus responded to that request?  In part He said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)  That is the exact same point that Paul has in mind when he says that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God.”  If you want to behold the “invisible God” you need to behold Jesus.  If you want to behold the compassion and the concern of the “invisible God” you need to behold the compassion and concern of Jesus.  Ever since Jesus came into this world no one needs to wonder who the one true God is.  No one needs to wonder what the one true God is like.  Jesus is the “image of the invisible God.”  When you behold Jesus you behold the one and only true God.

 

At the same time Paul tells us that Jesus is not only the “image of the invisible God,” but He is also the “firstborn over all creation.”  Now, there are people who misuse this passage to claim that Jesus is the “firstborn over all creation” in the sense that Jesus is the first thing that Jehovah created!  You not only have to torture Scripture to make is say such a thing but it is outright blasphemy!  The Greek word that is translated here as “firstborn” does not emphasize sequence but rather it emphasizes superiority!  Jesus is “superior” over all creation.  Jesus is “preeminent” over all creation.  Why?  Because Jesus is the “image of the invisible God.”  If you have your own study Bible with you today write John 3:16 in the margin next to Colossians 1:15.  John 3:16 proves beyond any doubt that Paul’s reference to Jesus as the “firstborn over all creation” equals the fact that Jesus is God’s “one and only Son.”

 

The “superiority” of Jesus over creation is not only due to the fact that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, but it is also due to the fact that Jesus was not only actively involved in the creation of all things, but to this day Jesus is holding and preserving the entire universe in the palm of His hand!  Paul says, “all things were created by him and for him…and in him all things hold together.”   If Jesus were to withdraw His hand then the entire universe and everything in it would collapse.

 

The fact that Jesus is the Supreme King over heaven and earth because He is the Almighty Creator is a truth that you and I will want to hold near and dear to our heart each and every day.  Why?  Because there are any number of people today who would like to think that they are powerful.  They would like to think that they are in control.  But are they?  Absolutely not!  Like Nebuchadnezzar, like Cyrus, like Alexander they will die.  Their “kingdoms” will collapse.  On the day they die they will kneel before our Supreme King Jesus and receive what they deserve.

 

Now let’s look at verses 18-20 of our text.  Not only is our Brother Jesus our Supreme King due to the fact that He is the Almighty Creator, but Paul also reminds us that as our Supreme King Jesus is the “Head of the body, the church.”  History bears witness to the fact that there have been (and still are) mortal sinful human beings who have made themselves “head” of the church.  Only one Person has the power, only one Person has the right to be called the “Head of the Church.”  That Person is our Supreme King— Jesus!  Jesus’ right to be the “Head of the Church” is based upon the fact that He is the “firstborn from among the dead.” Jesus’ right to be the “Head of the Church” is based on the fact that Jesus willingly served us by “making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”  Jesus’ victorious resurrection on Easter Sunday— a resurrection which guarantees that through the precious blood of Jesus we are “at peace” with the one true God— that victorious resurrection from the dead is the very foundation of the entire Christian Church, my friends.  If Jesus had not willingly shed His blood in order to pay for our sins, if Jesus had not risen on Easter Sunday as the “firstborn from among the dead,” the Christian Church would have no reason to exist and we would have no hope whatsoever.  That is why it is so important for us— both as individuals and as a congregation— to stay focused on the cross.  (Pointing to the cross)  This cross is a powerful reminder to us that as our Supreme King Jesus is the “Head of the Church.”

 

Finally, let’s go back now to the opening verses of our text for today to be reminded on a very personal basis of why we need to believe, teach and confess that Jesus is our Supreme King.  Paul writes, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

 

Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve into sin this world and everyone in it— including you and me— have been “shrouded” in the darkness of sin.  Picture if you will a world with absolutely no light of any sort.  Millions upon millions of people are stumbling around completely unable to change the situation they are in.  They learn the hard way that this world is filled with rocks and cliffs.  They can sense that there are dangerous predators lurking somewhere in the darkness, but by the time their suspicions are confirmed— it’s too late!  That, my friends, is what I picture in my mind when I hear Paul talking about the “dominion of darkness.’

 

In His grace and in His mercy the God of heaven has reached down and “rescued” us from that “dominion of darkness.”  Through the gift of saving faith in our hearts— a gift that was given to us at the time of our baptism, a gift that is strengthened each time we approach the Lord’s altar to receive His true body and blood and every time we read and study God’s holy inspired Word— through that precious gift of faith we were brought out of the “dominion of darkness” and into the light of the glorious kingdom of God’s Son, our Supreme King!  In this Kingdom of Light we have the confidence of knowing that we have been redeemed.  We have been “bought back” from the power of sin, death and the devil.  In this Kingdom of Light we know, yes we know that we have the “forgiveness of sins.”  No matter who we are and no matter what we have done our Supreme King, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, the Head of the Church, our Brother, Jesus has recorded our name in His Book of Life and behind our name He has written that one all-important word:  Forgiven!

 

As we look around in our world, my friends, we see that kings come and kings go.  We see that empires rise and empires fall.  But as we gather together here in God’s house on this last Sunday of the church year this cross (Pointing to the cross) reminds us that there is one King who will never pass away and there is one kingdom that will never collapse.  That one King is our Supreme King, Jesus.  As you and I close out this church year and prepare to enter into yet another, my encouragement to you is this:  Stay close to your Supreme King!  Stay close to your Brother Jesus!

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen