Our study this month centers upon the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the world celebrates its understanding of “Christmas” and “Santa,” there is a contrast with Christian believers. We welcome the Child in the manger not as the center of a quaint rustic scene or an excuse for partying, but as one of the two greatest interventions of Deity in human history.
Our sin had created eternal separation from our Creator. Jesus changed that. He redeemed us from that destiny. First His birth, then His crucifixion and resurrection, offered the human race a way back home—a way back to God.
The great historian Kenneth Scott Latourette said, “Jesus has had more effect on the history of mankind than any other of its race who ever existed.”
Nothing in human history comes close to the events of Jesus’ birth and His sacrifice to offer forgiveness and redemption. But most people today miss it, unaware of the deep meaning of our celebration.
Why in Christian churches and homes do we see all the decorating and the candles, hear all the music and the children’s performances? Because of who Jesus is.
This study will help strengthen and solidify your understanding of the uniqueness of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, that baby in Bethlehem we sing about.
If you are looking for the authentic, genuine Son of God, you will not find Him in a store window but in the pages of Scripture.
In Colossians 1:13-22, Paul establishes in just a few words the unique position of the Lord Jesus Christ. This passage will be the center of our study today.
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: 17 And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. 18 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. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled 22 In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight:
Christians may be guilty of getting caught up in the commercial chaos of what the world calls “the holidays,” but beneath the tinsel is the bedrock of our faith: The Second Person of the Trinity took on human form to come to earth, live a sinless life, and offer Himself as the atoning sacrifice to cleanse us from sin and restore our relationship to God.
1. Turn to Philippians 2:5-11:
One of the most beautiful descriptions of who Jesus is can be found in this passage. Majesty rose from His place of honor seated beside God the Father, laid aside His glory, His dignity, His divine power, and the worship of angels—and lowered Himself to step into human history in a smelly barn, cradled on a bed of hay.
In this passage, there are two paths: the path down and the path up. Notice that Jesus, in humility, took the path down. Then God the Father exalted Him.
THE PATH DOWN
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, 7 but ________ Himself of no _______________, and took upon Him the form of a ________________, and was made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in fashion as a man, He _______________ Himself and became _______________ unto death, even the death of the cross.
THE PATH UP
9 Wherefore God also hath highly ________________ Him and given Him a name which is ____________ ____________ name, 10 that at the name of Jesus __________ _______ should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, 11 and that __________ tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is __________, to the glory of God the Father.
2. To better understand the full meaning of this passage we will look at it in the Amplified version with its clearer language:
5 Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility]: 6 Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, 7 But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. 8 And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! 9 Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, 10 That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
a. The phrase “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” is unclear until we see in the Amplified what it’s actually saying (see Amplified, verse 6).
“…did not think this ______________ with God was a thing to be eagerly ___________ or _____________.
b. From verses 7 and 8, what ways do you see that Jesus Christ humbled Himself by coming to earth?
1. First, He set aside all the privileges and dignity of being God (v. 7)
List some other ways:
3. Turn to 2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
a. Who is the first “He” in this verse?
b. Who is the second “He” (Him)?
We have looked at this passage in previous studies. It describes the transaction known as—
The Great Exchange
In His birth, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ—the only sinless person who ever lived—took upon Himself all the sins of every person who had ever lived, was alive then, and would live in the future, and bore them to the Cross. There He paid the penalty, because He was the only sacrifice possible to cleanse our sins—the only sinless human being who had ever lived or would live. He exchanged His majesty for our fallen-ness, His beauty for our ugliness, His robe of righteousness for our dark cloak of sin. Taking upon Himself our sin, He paid the ransom required to free us from the bondage of sin and redeem us for eternity back to Himself and to God the Father.
4. Turn to Ephesians 1:7:
In whom we have ________________ through His ____________, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace;
Now that we’ve looked at these three companion Scriptures, Philippians 2:5-11, 2 Corinthians 5:21, and Ephesians 1:7, we’ll turn our attention back to Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, specifically chapter 1, the center of our study.
5. Turn to Colossians chapter 1. In verses 13-22, Paul is going to lay it out for us and answer the question: Who was Jesus?
a. See verse 13. Paul asserts that God has…
13 …______________ us from the ___________ of ________________, and hath translated us into the______________ of His dear Son:
Some time ago in a televised interview, Bryant Gumbel asked Larry King, “If you could ask God only one question, what would you ask Him?” King answered, “I would ask Him if He has a son.” The Apostle Paul answered that question 2,000 years ago.
Atoning Sacrifice; Savior
b. 14 In whom we have ____________________ through ______ ____________, even the forgiveness of sins.
He is the One through whom we have redemption—Jesus alone was the atoning sacrifice for our sin (v.14).
Exact Image of God
a. 15 He [Jesus] is the image of the ______________ God…
God the Father is invisible. Yet Jesus is the very image of God—“image” meaning the exact representation and likeness. Sometimes when we get our picture made, we lament, “Oh, that’s not a very good picture of me….” But God says Jesus is the very image of Himself (v. 15), not in His physical body, but in His nature.
b. Now turn for a moment to John 1:18. John, “the beloved disciple” and one of Jesus’ inner circle of three, states:
18 No man hath ________ God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.
Writing 25 years later, John states this yet again, this time in a letter to the believers.
1 John 4:12:
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.
c. Do you see a little tension here between these two ideas: that Jesus is the very image of God, and yet no one has seen God at any time? ______________________
d. Can you think of a way to resolve this seeming conflict? _______________________
No one has seen God the Father. People saw the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus. But no one has seen the face of God the Father.
How do we know this?
e. Turn back to Exodus chapter 33:
If you read the entire chapter, you learn that God was about to remove His presence from among the people of Israel. We are amazed that Moses was even having such a conversation with God. We see that God is so outdone with the people that He says to Moses: “This people that THOU (Moses) has brought out of Egypt…”—like Moses could have done this on his own! God is so put out, He’s saying “This is your people that you brought out.” It appears He is at the point of washing His hands of them. Yet Moses appeals to Him. In fact, Moses said, “God, if you’re not going, I’m not going!” And God agrees that He will not substitute an angel for His presence, but He Himself will indeed go with them into the Land. Later in this wonderful, dramatic chapter, Moses makes a request of the Lord:
“God, may I see your face?”
Begin reading in Exodus 33:15 and continue to verse 23:
What does God say in verse 20?
When Jesus Christ arrived on earth and became a man, He made it possible for us to “see God”—by seeing His express image in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
f. Colossians 2:9 sums it up:
For in Him dwelleth _____ the _______________ of the Godhead bodily.
If you want to know God, you must know Jesus. All of God was in Bethlehem’s babe. Jesus is the exact image of the invisible God, God in human flesh.
The Exalted One
a. 15…the _________________ of every creature
Don’t get the idea that “firstborn” implies a beginning. This doesn’t mean that Jesus was created first, then all other creatures followed later. Jesus never had a beginning. There never was a time when Jesus was not. Jesus said in the Gospel of John: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Not “I was,” “I AM.” He is the great I AM. He never had a beginning. He has always existed in a state, never a start. He didn’t have His beginning at Bethlehem.
Then what does “firstborn” mean? It speaks of honor and privilege, of His exalted position.
Jesus Himself could not be “created.” Why? Because all things were created by Him. a. Look at verse 16.
16 For ____ _____ were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: _____ __________ were created by Him, and for Him:
God says it was Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, at work during Creation.
Whether things in Heaven or things on Earth, everything was made by Jesus and for Jesus.
b. Turn to Isaiah 40:26:
Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number [Isaiah is referring to the stars]; He calleth them all by name, by the greatness of His might, for that He is ____________ _____ __________; not one faileth.
Astronomers estimate there are 200 billion stars our galaxy. To go from side to side, rim to rim, in our galaxy would take 100,000 light years. Who did that? His name is Jesus, and He named each one.
c. Jesus it the purpose of creation.
16-b …for all things were created by Him, and ____ Him:
“For” is a preposition that speaks of direction. The Bible is linear. We’re moving to the time when “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.” That’s the reason He taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, even as it is in Heaven.”
Friend, it is all headed to Jesus. It is all for Him, for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the key to the mystery of history.
d. 17 And He is before all things, and ____ Him all things consist.
Do you know what the word consist means? That they stick together. Jesus Christ is the glue of the galaxies. What is it that keeps it all from falling apart or coming apart? Jesus. Jesus is the One who feeds the sun with its fuel. Jesus is the One who guides the planets in their orbit around the sun. Jesus is the One who has set out all of the stars. Talk about natural law. There is no “natural law”—they are the laws of Jesus that nature obeys. It is by Jesus that all things consist. By Him, all things hold together.
Head of the Church
a. 18 And He is the_________ of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead…
Compare this verse with Ephesians 5:23— “…as Christ is also head of the church….”
Interwoven throughout the Bible is the message of who Jesus is.
The Preeminent One
a. Continuing in verse 18:
18 “…that in all things He might have _______________________.”
Jesus doesn’t want “a place” in your life. He doesn’t wish for “prominence.” He deserves and demands pre-eminence.
Peacemaker, Reconciler, Redeemer
a. In verses 19-22, a beautiful passage, the earthly work of our Lord is summarized:
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him [His Son] should all fullness dwell, 20 and having made ____________ through the blood of His cross, by Him to _________________ all things to Himself, by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He _______________ 22 in the body of His flesh through _____________, to present you holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in His sight…
Left to our own devices, we cannot make peace with God. Jesus made peace with the blood of His cross. We enter into that peace by faith and trust in the Lord Jesus.
Revealer of the Father
Without Jesus Christ, how are you, a human being, going to know God? God is Spirit, invisible, unfathomable, unapproachable. How are you going to know Him? Not by reason. Not by religion. Not by ritual. Only by revelation—as God chooses to reveal Himself to you.
a. Look back in verse 15. Jesus is the image of the _____________ God. Jesus reveals the Father. Jesus is the exact representation of the invisible God. The visible Jesus makes the invisible God known.
You can never fully know God the Father apart from God the Son.
Do you want to know God? Friend, Jesus Christ has cornered the market. He has a monopoly on revealing the Father. The only way you’re going to know God is through Him. Jesus Himself said:
“All things are delivered unto Me of My Father, and no man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father except the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” Matthew 11:27
Let’s review: Who is Jesus?
Actually, Paul has set you up in Colossians 1:13-23. He’s saying, “Look, He is the One who made everything. It all belongs to Him. How great and mighty and awesome He is, yet He hung naked on a cross.”
When Jesus created the universe, He did it with His Word. He said: “Let there be,” and it was. The universe sprang from His fingertips. But when He saved us, it took every drop of His blood. He didn’t have to do that.
He’s the Son of God revealed in the pages of His Holy Word. He’s the One that took my sin, your sin, our sin to the cross, and there made peace with the blood of His cross. And on His cross He took sinful man with one hand, holy God with the other hand, and reconciled God and man.
This is who Jesus is.