Refresh & Restore – 5/7/2020

Colossians 1:15-23 —

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. 19 For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

            Over the past few weeks, we’ve begun looking at what it means for “times of refreshing to come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:20). We’ve looked at the surpassing beauty and worth of God’s Word and the vital necessity of us being in it daily. And, last week, you accompanied me through my personal struggles into the Word and, hopefully, were able to see that the “refreshing” is a real thing and much to be sought after.

            Today, we get to dive in one of my favorite passages of Scripture. This passage is known as one of the greatest Christ-focused passages in the Bible. It was even sung as a hymn in the early church. It’s absolutely foundational for our understanding of who Jesus is. And we get to know Him better through it.

            I’ve included the entire passage, but there is no way – at least in my ability (and excitement) – to get through it in one devotional. Yet each week we look at this passage, I will put it in its entirety. Because no matter my ability, the verses are part of Him – the living, active Word of God. You’d do better with more of Him and less of me.

            Today, I urge you to stop now and re-read the passage again. We’ll dive into verses 15, 19, and 20 when you’ve finished.

            Verse 15 describes Jesus as “the image of the invisible God”. It always takes some effort for the English teacher in me to get past the oxymoron – “image of the invisible”. Let me help you understand why this is so significant.

            You won’t often find me citing Greek to you, but I feel it’s important here. The word we see translated as “image” is the Greek word eikon (εἰκών). Our word “icon” (same pronunciation) comes from it. It simply means image or rendering a likeness of something. To understand it, look at the pictures – the icons – below:

           These are various icons that one would click on to access the internet. They are just pictures that are attached to some sort of technological interface that connects one to the Internet. It doesn’t matter if you are PC, Mac, or reasonably unaffiliated. Each picture connects a person to the wealth and vastness of the Internet – the good, the bad, and the endless stream of memes.

           This is where verse 19 comes in: “For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”, meaning all of God dwelled, lived, resided in the person of Jesus. Just like the icons above are images that lead one to the vastness of the web, Jesus is the “image” of the infinite holy vastness of the Most High God – all of Him wrapped up in human flesh!

           Look at other examples from Scripture that back this up:

  • Colossians 1:9 — For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily….
  • John 1:1, 14 — In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

There are others, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. This is the point: Jesus is God!

            I realize that, so far, this has sounded a bit more academic than usual. But all of this is to serve a purpose. King Jesus is so much more than we could ever hope to know or understand. There is such a wealth of knowledge in His Word that can help us know Him more. I want you to see the depth and the vastness of Him. I want you to look at Him with fresh eyes and see how complex and out-of-this-world He is because that moves you to worship and awe of Him. And that is a good response.

            You need to see that He is big and you are small. You need to see that He is holy, perfect, and righteous, and we are not capable of such glorious things apart from Him. But after you step back – or hopefully are brought to your knees by the realization of Him – there’s something so much sweeter. He loves you.

            That’s right, “the image of the invisible God”, the “preeminent” One, the King of kings and Lord of lords, God Almighty loves you! That’s good news!

            I love the way that Peter writes about it in 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” He. Cares. For. You.

           The imagery here is so beautifully rich. Encountering the sovereign God of the universe absolutely should be a humbling, life-altering experience. It should drive us to our knees and cause us to look deeply at who we are. But this personal God does not leave us to grovel in the dirt (which He would be perfectly right to do). His “mighty hand” does not cast us out or beat us down (as it could).

           Instead, those mighty hands reach out – still bearing the scars of the nails where they were pierced for our sake – to pull us into His loving embrace. The same hands that formed Adam from the dust reach into our lives and take that which was dead (Ephesians 2:1-2) and bestow new life (Ephesians 2:4-5). I’ll say it again: that’s good news!

           Those mighty hands and that powerful embrace are enough to keep us from all harm. Not only that, the same voice that spoke everything into existence still echoes down through the years offering us comfort, even today (Matthew 11:28-30):

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

            I’ll close with a look at how this is all accomplished in verse 20. The peace, comfort, rest, and love we find in Him was paid for on the cross and guaranteed by His resurrection. Verse 20 says, “…and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.”

            God in all of His splendor (vv. 15-18) stepped out of heaven and into our world (v. 19) to make a Way for us to have Life everlasting through Him (v. 20). This is not a hypothetical. He’s with us still today just as He promised (Matthew 28:20).

            So, do you find yourself at a low point? Are you wondering how you will ever get out of whatever situation (sin, struggles, depression, Covid-19, murder hornets) you find yourself? Look to Christ and accept His mighty hand reaching out to save and comfort you, and find times of refreshing in His presence.

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