SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 31 October 2021
Sermon Text: Colossians 1:15-23
Sermon Series: “What (Who) is?” (#2)
I. Jesus’ words on the temple
II. People’s delusion about Jesus
III. Jesus is the fullness of God dwelling among us
Who is Jesus? This is the question the whole world must pay attention to and know the answer. That’s because this question, ‘Who is Jesus?’, asks about the very foundation of everything that is – I mean, both the living and the dead as well as things visible and invisible. Someone might disapprove what I’ve just said, but it is true, and my intention for today is to help you see why Jesus is the very foundation of everything.
So, who is Jesus? I believe all of you know Jesus. He is the Christ – in another word, the Messiah, Saviour. He is the Son of God; He is Lord; He is God with us or Immanuel; He is the Prince of Peace, just to name a few of His names and titles introduced in the Bible. Someone searched the Bible and listed more than a hundred names and titles of Jesus. People seem to know Jesus well.
The best people who could answer this question, ‘Who is Jesus?’, would be Jesus’ disciples. They were together with Jesus for three years and learned directly from Jesus. Simon Peter, one of the twelve, nailed it one day and said, “[Jesus is] the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
But that wasn’t the case when they met Jesus first time; they had little idea of who He really was. Their ignorance continued almost to the end of their time with Jesus, and they knew little about their Master.
Unfortunately, that seems to be the same with many people in our generation. I’m not talking about the unbelievers; I mean Christians of the present day and age. Many church goers and worship attenders of our days seem to have little interest in knowing who Jesus is. People seem to feel comfortable with calling Him as the Saviour and Lord, but that’s the end of their interest in Him. Such is almost exactly like Jesus’ disciples who followed Jesus for more than two-third, if not ¾ or even 99%, of their time with Him, calling Him ‘Master,’ yet not knowing His true identity.
So, this question, ‘Who is Jesus?’, is a truly important and fundamental question for all Christians. We must know who Jesus is in order to come to Him and worship Him, in order to follow Him and commit our life to Him. After all, knowing His true identity is the key to our life both here and beyond; knowing Him, one can truly appreciate the love of God the Father and the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
I. JESUS’ WORDS ON THE TEMPLE
Before we move on, let me take you to Jerusalem, especially to the moment of Mk. 13, where Jesus spoke about the temple. It was one of the early visits to Jerusalem Jesus made. The words of Jesus on the temple surprise us because He pointed out our delusion about Him and what must be done to it in order to clearly see Him who is the Lord and King.
Having completed their purpose of visiting the temple which King Herod refurbished and completed about 20 or so years earlier than this visit of Jesus and His disciples, they walked out of the temple buildings and, looking back, one of the disciples says as recorded in Mk. 13:1, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” The temple was believed to be adorned with a golden roof and white marble pillars and facades. This unnamed disciple was overwhelmed by the beauty and grandeur of the buildings. So he said, “Look, Teacher!” I believe all other disciples felt the same and overcame with national pride as that temple was the symbol of the nation Israel and God’s promise for them.
Hearing it, Jesus answers and says this – and listen carefully what He says – “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” On the one hand, Jesus talks about the temple buildings and prophesies, first of all, of the life and religion of Israel that will take place in around 70 AD and, then, of the final judgment that is to come at the end of the age.
On the other hand, Jesus conveys in these words His true identity and nature. What I mean is this; the temple had always been to Israel the symbol of God’s presence in their midst. Whether in the form of tabernacle or building, it was the indicator of God’s dwelling with His people. As the people of Israel looked at the tabernacle earlier in the wilderness or the temple building later on in Jerusalem, they were facing the God of Israel and remembered the covenant God had established with Israel.
But, the true Temple of God is standing there in their midst in the form of man with flesh and blood. As Jesus Christ is there with them, no longer does the building have any meaning. As the Lord Himself is there, speaking to them and having His being in their midst, the temple building which is simply a symbol of Jesus and His presence in Israel no longer has any further purpose. So, its removal was necessary; it must be removed so that the eyes and hearts of Israel could be upon Jesus who is God with His people!
II. PEOPLE’S DELUSION ABOUT JESUS
This takes us back to the point I mentioned earlier, that is, people’s disinterest in knowing who Jesus truly is. Like those disciples whose eyes and minds were fixed constantly on the temple although they were with the true Temple, the God Incarnate, people in this day and age tend to remain satisfied with their own version of Jesus, showing no further interest in the Lord of the Bible. This individual’s ‘temple,’ so to speak, must be removed in order to know the true Temple, Jesus, thus, fix their eyes on Him alone.
Some examples of people’s delusions about Jesus can be like this. Some people often consider Jesus as a ‘friendly warlord or chieftain.’ They pray to Jesus, seeking help for their rugby team or soccer team to overcome the opponent. Ironically, those of the opposing team pray to the same Jesus asking the same help. This happens not only on rugby fields, but also in real battle fields with flying bullets and artillery shells.
Some others regard Jesus as a wise ‘venture capitalist’ or ‘finance advisor.’ They are after their Jesus’ superpower in finding dollars and cars and properties. So many of us are categorised in this group, and it seems that there are plenty more to join.
If another group’s perception of Jesus is not as materialistic as these people but more on spiritual side, still they view Jesus as a ‘salesman’ who wishes to convince them to accept his offer of salvation. Another circle of Christians think Jesus like a ‘hippie saviour’ – and, although I use a word like this to describe some people’s view on Jesus, it still shivers me as it is a blasphemy! Those who consider Jesus in this way say that Jesus accepts everyone disregarding their sins because Jesus is love.
Those are rather radical in their view on Jesus; but some, if not many, conservative Christians are not much different in terms of their delusion about Jesus. For these people, Jesus often remains within the walls of their church; sometimes Jesus leaves the church building and comes with them after the Sunday worship service, but he doesn’t intervene in many aspects of their daily living.
These are just a few simple examples of people whose understanding of Jesus shows little agreement with the Bible’s picture of Him, the Son of God. In a word, these are their delusion about Jesus; these are their own ‘temples’ that need to be – that must be – removed and destroyed.
III. JESUS IS THE FULLNESS OF GOD DWELLING AMONG US
Having said, we again face this question, ‘Who is Jesus?’ Who must we say Jesus is? Col. 1:15-23 answers to this question. But if I may boil down this passage and pick up its very extract or essence, it’ll be ‘the fullness of God’! Jesus is the fullness of God.
If you have your Bible, please open it to Col. 1 and follow vs. 15-23 again. This passage says that Jesus is, first of all, ‘the image of the invisible God,’ that is, in another word, ‘the fullness of God.’ Also, Jesus is ‘the firstborn of all creation,’ meaning not the sequential process of creation, but the nature of the Son as the One who beholds all things of God the Father, thus, once again, He is ‘the fullness of God.’ After all, this is what v. 17 means when it says, “He is before all things.” Moreover, v. 17 also says that ‘in Jesus, all things hold together’ and this means Jesus is surely and perfectly ‘the fullness of God.’
Simply put, this means that whatever you know about God from the Bible, Jesus reveals that in full measure and achieves that in full measure. Moreover, Jesus who is the fullness of God brings you and me to God the Father and reconciles us to Him, binding us to Him for eternity through His own blood shed on the cross. His purpose of binding us to the Father is to ‘present us holy and blameless and above reproach before the Father’ as v. 22 points out! In fact, this expression sums up both the plan the Father had for redeeming His elect and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the elect. So, again, Jesus is ‘the fullness of God.’
And Jesus’ being the fullness of God is not limited to the spiritual side only. Rather, His fullness of God covers all things of the world. Even all thrones, all dominions and rulers and authorities were created by Jesus, thus, belong to Him. The WA’s McGowan government belongs to Jesus who is the fullness of God. The N Korean regime and its authority is from Jesus and the origin of the United States’ political, economic and diplomatic dominion over the present world is Jesus who is the fullness of God.
He is, therefore, not at all a ‘friendly chieftain,’ nor a ‘hippie saviour’! Jesus is not a wise ‘finance advisor’ either. He neither tries to sell eternal life to anyone, nor remains within these walls or comes and visits Christians on Sundays only – No, that is not who Jesus is! He is over all things; He is over all beings; He is over all dominions and authorities! He is the fullness of God, the true image of the invisible God! He is not a ‘concept or idea’ but the transcendent power behind the universe and the ultimate reality of all things.
What makes us shiver further and greatly in awe and wonder is the fact that this Jesus is the God Incarnate who dwelt among us! John’s Gospel 1:14 tells us this, saying, “the Word became flesh and DWELT among us.” The Greek word translated into English as ‘dwelt’ here means literally, ‘pitched His tent among us.’ This again reminds us of the account of the temple we considered earlier and proves our understanding as true. He pitched His tent among us!
What does this mean? It tells us the scope of His love and grace toward us. It reveals to our limited mind the immenseness of Jesus’ care for you and me and all God’s elect! God pitched His tent in our midst! To speak to us and be our Friend and Saviour, to be our Protector and Leader as much as our Redeemer! What a marvellous and massive idea this is!
For this reason, the Apostle John says that this is His ‘glory,’ and continues in Jn. 1:14, saying, “glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”!
John is not the only one overwhelmed by the glorious truth of Jesus, Peter the Apostle too was amazed and thrilled. So he says in 2 Pet. 1:16 this: “we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” He continues in v. 18 of the same chapter, “we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain.” He points out the occasion he, James and John witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain and heard the voice coming from heaven, saying, “This is My Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.”
The truth that encourages as much as amazes us is that this Jesus is with us, with you and me! He who is the fullness of God calls us ‘brothers and sisters’ or in another occasion ‘friends’! This Jesus urges us even now to ask all things to the Father in His name, and the Father will answer us and give us what we ask! This means that you’re and I am now the heirs of the God’s kingdom. The Father gives us according to our request, not because we importune by Jesus’ name, but because we ask what belong to us now in Jesus! Do you get the picture?
So, if anyone has asked God anything in Jesus’ name, but does not receive it from the Father, that doesn’t mean he lacked in fervour in his prayer, but what he requested is not of God’s kingdom. But all things of the Father’s kingdom will be given to us through Jesus who is the fullness of God, yet, pitched His tent among us!
Let me conclude and answer once again to the question, ‘Who is Jesus?’ He is the fullness of God. In this fullness of God, He is our Saviour and Lord and King and even Brother! In Him, we come to the Father; in Him, we live heaven on earth, and where we’re and go, there is an extension of heaven, God’s eternal kingdom! How could this be possible? Because Jesus who is the fullness of God is with us, speaks to us, dines with us, and have His being with us!
So, come to this Jesus and worship Him. Be joyful always in Jesus, your God and my God! ***