We need to know and be reminded of the truth that Jesus Christ holds everything together, and that includes us. If we really understand that in our hearts, then we will be different and we will see differently and we will live differently. And that difference will not be a small, insignificant difference. It will make all the difference in the world.
Links to the scriptures can be found at our bible.com event
Most of you know by now that I am a Star Wars fan. I don’t pay much attention to the critics of the movies because I love the story, and I will go see every movie just because of that. Some of you may not love or even care about Star Wars. Some of you may confuse it with Star Trek. I understand that, so I don’t want to bore you with a Star Wars example for too long. However, there is one scene in the first movie that replays in my mind every once in a while. The Millennium Falcon is under attack by enemy fighters and they are fighting for their lives. Han and Luke are stationed at the guns shooting back at the enemy when Leia comes on the intercom and says that the Falcon has lost her lateral controls. Han quickly responds, “Don’t worry! She’ll hold together.” Then under his breath he quietly adds, “You hear me baby? Hold together.”
I think that many times we feel like Han Solo and our lives are like the Millennium Falcon. It’s like we are under fire, and we are hoping and praying that everything holds together. But we’re not 100% sure. We may put on a brave face for the public, but inside it feels like we are about to become space dust.
We need to know and be reminded of the truth that Jesus Christ holds everything together, and that includes us. This morning I want to focus our attention on the Lord Jesus and just who exactly he is. It’s all about him. When we forget about that is when we forget that he does hold everything together. Sometimes we hold on to our beliefs about God, but we don’t really understand what that means for us where we live. If he really does hold everything together that means that he does hold our lives together. If we understand that in our hearts, it will make a difference today and tomorrow and this next week and this next year. If we get this in our hearts then we will be different and we will see differently and we will live differently. And that difference will not be a small, insignificant difference. It will make all the difference in the world.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God
Imagine that you have a relative that you have never seen before but have heard about in family stories. Someone in your family going through the archives of pictures comes across a picture of that relative, and all at once you have a face to go with the name and the stories. You have an image of that person who previously had been invisible to you.
For those who knew and walked with Jesus when he walked on earth they were given the image of the invisible God. They, in the words of scripture, captured his image and passed it along to all of us. In the gospel of John chapter 1 verse 18 it says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” So then the apostle John agrees with our verse in Colossians that the invisible God was made visible through the person of Jesus Christ.
There are two ways in which the invisible God was made visible. Of course, the first is physically. “God is spirit”, (John 4:24) so we humans cannot see him with our natural eyes. Yet God in the person of Jesus came to earth and was incarnated in human form. This is of course the awesome miracle that we celebrate at Christmas.
The second way that Jesus makes the invisible God visible has to do with the impact that sin has on every person’s ability to know and understand God. Because of sin the image or the picture that we have of God has been warped from his true reality. We see a broken, inaccurate image of God. Although we were made to see spiritually just as easily as we can see physically, sin destroyed the clarity of our vision. In his life on earth Jesus gave us the accurate image or picture of exactly who God is. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”
Now we have to carefully understand what Paul means by “image” in this verse. He is not saying that Jesus is a junior partner of the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To use math language, Jesus is not a sub-set of God. He is fully God. We can say, instead, that Jesus is the image of God because in Jesus we can clearly see the God who has previously been invisible to humanity. As I said before, that invisibility was both physically and spiritually.
Here is the bottom line: if you want to know God, you must find him in Christ Jesus alone. The world seeks to know God, and it searches in every nook and cranny blinded to the fact that without seeing Christ we cannot see God. Every search for God outside of Jesus leads to one and only one destination – the worship of idols.
Idols are not just sculptures of metal or wood that people bow down to in worship. Idols are anything that distorts the true image of God. They may appear to have qualities that are worthy of our affection and attention and our praise, but only in Jesus do we clearly see God’s goodness, righteousness, wisdom, grace. This quarter in our grow groups we have been studying the Reformation, and one of the leaders of the Reformation was John Calvin. Here is what he says about Jesus as the image of God. “[God] is revealed to us in Christ alone.”
Jesus is the firstborn of all creation
When you first look at this verse and see that Jesus is called the firstborn of all creation, you might be tempted to think that he was the first thing that was created. But if you just read the next phrase, you know that it’s absolutely not true. It says, “by him all things were created.” (v.16) Jesus was not made. He always has been. So what does it mean for him to be the firstborn?
The first few verses of John chapter one say, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) So God, Jesus to be specific, spoke and the universe was created. Prior to Jesus speaking words did not exist. Therefore the first creation was the manifestation of His Word.
To get an even better understanding of this, we have to know what the word “firstborn” means in scripture. The firstborn didn’t just mean the first child of a family. It had a greater meaning. It was the one who had a special place in the father’s love. It also meant that the firstborn had the highest rank. So therefore, when we apply this to Jesus it means that he is both prior to and supreme over all of creation. Then because Jesus is the Word and as the Word he is first and supreme over all of creation, the Word of God holds the highest place of both power and authority.
Let’s stop there for a moment and think about what this means for us. We have heard that Jesus holds the universe together and that includes our own little universe. I mentioned Hebrews 1:3 earlier. The second part of that verse says, “[God] upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Therefore, God upholds our own little universe by his word. If God can create everything we see by his spoken word, then one little word from him is able to do far more in our lives than we can possibly imagine. In truth, we are more often than not blinded to the fact that God is holding our lives together right now. If he wasn’t then we would have already spun out of control and into oblivion. It may not feel that way, but that is what the Word of God says – the Word which is first and supreme over all things. If you are in the middle of a great struggle where you feel like you are falling apart then you say this out loud to yourself, “God is holding me and my world together by his all-powerful word.” Nothing can break the power of God’s word. It is over all created things.
But you might say, why then does it seem like this world and my own world is falling apart when God says he is holding it all together? Because our scripture goes on to say that “all things were created through him and for him.” (v.16) We’ve already talked about how Jesus created all things, but what does it mean that all things were created for him? Essentially it means that nothing has any purpose outside of its purpose in God. The Lord owns his creation. It is his property. He made each and everything for his own purpose and pleasure. As such he has the right to do with it whatever he wants to do.
Take human beings for example. The Bible says this about those who have placed their trust in him, “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7) It says we have been created by God, on purpose, and that purpose is for his glory. His glory is revealed both in the good times as well as the times when things seem like they are falling apart. It is when you spend time in the desert that you really, really appreciate a cold drink of water. It’s when you don’t have money to spend on Christmas presents that you really, really appreciate the times when you do. It’s when the cupboard is bare that you appreciate the times when you have plenty of food. So therefore, when the world seems like it’s falling apart is when we have the opportunity to most clearly see the glory of God. God doesn’t need to see His glory. He already knows all about it. His purpose and plan is for us, His creation, to be able to see more of his glory, and that means how incredibly awesome he is.
So then God created the visible and the invisible world for himself in order to show forth his glory. Colossians 1:16 says that God created the things “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.” Everything was designed by him for this purpose, even the angelic spiritual beings. Let this thought blow your mind. Satan and the angels who rebelled against God which we call demons were made in such a way that they had the opportunity to reject God and rebel against his authority. Who designed them with that ability? God did, and God did this knowing full well that Satan would rebel against him. How do I know that? Revelation 13:8 tells us that Jesus is the “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” God knew that his creation would need a Savior because he knew that Satan would rebel, that Adam and Eve would sin and that their sinful nature would be passed along to all of humanity.
But God created the world anyway in order to reveal to those who have been given his great gift of salvation just how amazing and awesome he is. Nothing that Satan can do or any demon or any person in any seat of power, dominion or authority, can throw God off of his position as Lord of all creation. Any authority that is rightfully received or even unjustly taken has been set in place by the Almighty so that his magnificent glory can be seen and understood. His glory is the invisible thing which through Christ Jesus he is making known to the whole of creation.
Let me give an example. In the movie Finding Nemo, there is a tense scene where Marlin and Dory find themselves on a dock underneath dozens of seagulls. The seagulls look at them as their next meal, so they begin to say over and over again, “Mine.Mine.Mine” Marlin and Dory are then rescued by a sympathetic Pelican named Nigel who knows where Nemo is.
This to me is a great picture of the invisible spiritual world. Evil spirits look at us like the seagulls look at Marlin and Dory. They want us for themselves. Their only intention is to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) for their own selfish purposes. They care nothing for the purposes of God our creator. But God has a different purpose in mind for each one of us, and He uses even the evil spirits of the world accomplish that. Even though evil spirits make every attempt to destroy our lives, we can rest assured that God is holding us together. His purposes will be accomplished. His Word cannot be broken. As Romans 8 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
Jesus is before all things and in him all things hold together
Before means existed previously, but it also means having the place of prominence or authority. Before all things also implies that Jesus is the prime mover in all history. He is the initiator of events. He did not just create the world. He is moving it forward toward its destination. That includes our history as a church and your history as God’s creation.
It is by the Lord’s hand that the planets keep their orbits and the sun and stars don’t explode. It is by his hand that the atmosphere doesn’t spill off into space and that the earth’s core doesn’t erupt over the entire planet. Whatever fantasies depicted in the movies or books which highlight human ability to keep our world from destruction do not reflect the reality that God is in control holding all things together. Nothing can happen in our world that does not come from his permission or command.
Just as God holds our physical world he holds together. He also holds our inner world together. We don’t realize just how fragile we are as people. Some who do realize this give in to fear and anxiety. However, there is great peace to be found by understanding the truth that our Creator and Almighty Sustainer of the Universe also holds us together. No one escapes His notice and care. Until we begin to realize that it is all about Jesus, we will struggle with trying to hold our own world together. You can try, but life will insure that your world falls apart. That is a good thing because then the Lord will show you how He holds your world together.