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. (Colossians 1:15-20)
Let me remind you of a couple other verses…
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:2)
Who is the Creator of all things? Jesus is.
It is said that Jesus is the Agent through whom the world and all that was created came into existence. Without Jesus nothing was made that was made.
Jesus holds the highest rank over all created things (“firstborn of all creation”) because He is the creator of all things. And as creator of all things, He has a right to rule and reign over all creation in whatever way He chooses to do so. All created things are under His domain. That understanding, that truth is one with which many struggle. Some will say, maybe we have said, “What right does He have to tell me what to do, or to rule over me?”
Some of you like video games. I don’t really share that with you, if you do. That is not a statement of judgement, just of taste and preference. But in those games, in some at least, you get to build sort of your own world. Minecraft. Who likes Minecraft? What do you do in that game? You create things. Not like Jesus creates; He created out of nothing, in your game you create out of what is available. But even in that there is a certain sense of accomplishment, of being like a creator, you are building your own things, ruling over what you have made. You can control your environment. You can build, and if you choose, you can destroy. Now I know I may be losing some of you here! If you are old like me you may not have any idea what I am talking about. Just think about building with blocks, wood blocks, making things how you want them to be and then deciding what you will do with them. We find ways to rule over things, to be in charge, even if it is just pretend.
The Bible talks about this and does so by using an example of a potter and clay, an artist and his creation. A potter is someone who makes pots, or cups, or a vase using a potter’s wheel. And in Romans 9 we see this analogy used by Paul as he is describing God. Paul is trying to answer those who are questioning God’s right over creation.
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ” (Romans 9:14-26)
The Creator has ruling privileges, the Creator rules over His creation.
Probably for most of us, we think of Jesus in His incarnate state. By incarnate I mean in His human flesh as He walked on the earth. We think of His miraculous birth, born of a virgin, we think of His ministry, His miracles, His compassion. We may think of how He confronted the hypocritical religious leaders. We cannot help but think of His heartache over humanity, weeping over Jerusalem, and over the death of Lazarus. And we focus on His willingness to be arrested, beaten, punished, nailed to a cross, mocked, ridiculed and left to die. We think of the cross and of our sins, even particular sins for which He died. We can envision the tomb that held His body, and then the empty tomb, His resurrection, His ascension, going up into the clouds. We may think of His coming again – I hope we do. He is coming again, not to take everyone with Him to glory, but to take those He has redeemed. Those that He purchased with His blood at the cross.
We think of His life on earth, His work on earth, His death and resurrection and ascension. And it is easy for us to only think of Him in these ways. If we do that, we may miss out on thinking of His power, His wisdom, and His right to rule and to reign, not just over you or me, but to rule and to reign over everything. What right does He have? He has every right because He created all those things! He created this world before He came to it, and He created the heavens before He ascended into them. “For by him all things were created.” This is Jesus.
I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to enter this world and to rub shoulders with those He created and for them to act like and believe that they were somehow superior to Him. It is really a testimony of His humility and patience with people. I think of us. We say things like, “I own that land that my house is sitting on,” and we think we can control that piece of property. And you know, it really is not ours, sure we have some limited use of it for a while and we paid money to use it, but it is not really ours. It belongs to Christ. It is His, over which He reigns.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine. (Psalm 50:10-11)
Whatever we think we own, we don’t really own it, it belongs to Jesus. He is the potter and we the clay. He is the owner of all that He has created, and He has created everything that has been created – “all things were created through him and for him.”
I want to, in a few minutes, talk about some implications of this truth, like, “Where does this leave us as His creatures? What should be our response to this truth that He has made us and has rights over us?” We will do that in a few minutes because that is really important, but first let’s look more specifically at how Paul drives home his point about Jesus as creator.
After saying, “For by Him all things were created,” he elaborates. It is as if Paul wants to be sure we understand what is meant by “all things!” And so he goes on to be specific.
He says all things “in heaven and on earth”…
The imprint of Christ is all over this world in which we live. The beauty of creation tells of His glory. The person next to you, the ocean, the mountains, everywhere we look we see His creation. Even the things that may bother us, mosquitoes, stinging creatures, or what we may call pests, each is wonderfully made and uniquely so by an all-wise creator. All the materials that we have from this world that we use to make new things, all were made by Him.
His creation goes beyond this earth to the heavens. It has been said that there are as many stars in the heavens as there are grains of sand on all the beaches of the world. Each one, the billions of stars and the billions of grains of sand, all created by Him. The heavens contain the sun. The sun is incredible, but not even close to the largest known star. The sun could hold 1.3 million earths inside it. Its power is immense, and it was created by Jesus. We know such a small amount about the heavens and all that is in the universe. But what we do know about its size and complexity gives us a glimpse of the majesty of the One who created it. The fact that we cannot fathom it marks out in our minds the truth that the Creator is immense and powerful, and we in comparison are very small.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun, (Psalm 19:1-4)
Paul goes on to include all that is “visible and invisible.”
What we see, He created, and what we do not see, that really does exist, He created. Much of our world is invisible to us. I cannot see those chiggers that have been torturing me all summer long, but I know they are out there. The Ebola virus, I cannot see. We can see its terrible effects, but with our eyes alone we can’t see it. Bacteria, both good and bad, we cannot see. Spirits, angels, we don’t see them around us, but they are there, and they were created. Molecules, atoms, wind, small creatures, all were created by Christ and He will do with them, as with all creation, what He wills.
Paul continues, “whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.”
These last words about creation – thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities – all flow from his mention of the invisible world. These are spiritual, invisible creations. And they are most likely references not to good angels, but fallen ones, demons, dark spirits that are real but cannot be seen by us. These too were created. They are creatures created by our Lord Jesus Christ.
We should know that, but it may be our tendency to not really think that, to think of evil beings as somehow outside of Christ’s created realm. Like they were mistakes, or came from somewhere else, or whatever, but they too are created beings.
Now we can debate as to why Jesus would create such beings, but in the end we have to understand that in some way they reveal His glory more fully. The contrast certainly does; we can better understand good having seen and understood its opposite, right?
But here is one way in which these evil spirits are reduced to a more proper dimension and understanding for us: remembering that they are merely creatures of God, created by Christ, so they owe their very existence to Him, and as such He rules over them and never do they rule over Christ.
We know this is true of Satan himself. When Satan wanted to get at Job, what did he do? He took instruction from God as to what he could do. God set boundaries for Satan, and has not given up His prerogative to rule over him. We know too that in the end, God will take Satan and throw him “into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophets were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
And so it is our Lord who created all that is in heaven and on earth, all that is visible and what is invisible, and even all powers that stand in opposition to Him. This is Jesus.
I want to mention one general truth about Christ as Creator, and one important practical implication of that truth for us.
The general truth is that this mighty, all-powerful creator deeply loves us as His bride.
Why is this important? Well, when we begin to think of one being who has ultimate control over all things, that can either be very frightening or very comforting. For most, I think it is frightening. Because what we are saying is that as creator, He can and does rule. And so we can sit back and get really worked up over things like, “What might He do then? How will He treat me? Can I trust this powerful being, this all-powerful being?” I mean, we have seen dictators in history, powerful people, who let that power begin to control them. We’ve seen how they begin to rule with arrogance, pride, and for themselves, even at the expense of the well being of other people.
Is this frightening that Jesus has created all things and rules over all things? It can be unless we, as His children, chosen by Him, take seriously His deep love for us. He doesn’t rule in hate and anger with us as His bride, He does so in love and with patient mercy.
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25)
He is not a harsh, cold, distant, self-serving dictator, but is instead a benevolent, loving husband who has given Himself to His bride, to you and me, if you belong to Him. He is the one who has invited us into His love. He said…
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Do you hear that? An invitation to enter into His rest, into His love?
Or how about these words from the all-powerful Creator, ruler of all things, in John 17. Notice the desire on the part of Christ Jesus, this all-powerful Savior, to have unity not just with His Father, but with you if you belong to Him.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:22-26)
The Creator who rules is the One who perfectly loves His bride, the church!
Now, one important implication of this truth that Christ Jesus created all things and rightly rules over it all: we have nothing to fear regarding creation. This is a huge implication for us.
For instance, Christ, the Creator who loves us deeply, gave us these bodies, He made them. Does He not rule over what He creates? Yes. Who is in control of your body? Jesus is. And who loves you? Jesus does. What might happen to our bodies? I don’t know, but Jesus does. Will our bodies fail in some way? Will they cause pain to us? Will they stop functioning as they did in the past? Maybe, but our loving Savior will let it happen or not. Whatever may happen, it cannot happen outside of His ruling authority. It is His. And He does promise to give us comfort, peace, and to renew this body, make it new some day.
What about things around us, even evil spirits around us? He created those too, and so He rules over them. Nothing can touch you or me apart from His willingness to let it be so. And if He lets it happen, it is for His glory and for our good. He will work it for our good, but it is not out of His control. If Christ is the creator of all, then He is the ruler of all, and as His bride we have nothing to fear.
Our Lord and Savior reigns. Do we live in the comforts of that magnificent truth? The one who creates is the very one who loves us most.
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. (Colossians 1:15-16)
My prayer is that we can live as His bride with great trust in His loving will in all things!