Why Jesus?: The Mirror Changed

“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Colossians 1:22)

Remember the ugly mirror from yesterday? It showed us exactly how we looked without Christ – rebellious, alienated, evil enemies of God. We were against him, and the self-made ugliness broadcast itself from our reflection.

trees_350But then God took action. He did the only thing that could be done to bring us back into a loving, meaningful, growing relationship with him. He mysteriously and bafflingly allowed his Son, the all-powerful God in a physical human body, to die for our ugly choices – and God allowed for all of Christ’s goodness to be counted as our own. How could that happen?

I don’t know, but the image in our mirrors transformed on the day we believed. We’ve been reconciled and changed from enemies to sons, from ugly to beautiful, from sin-ravaged to “holy in his sight.” The glass no longer screams out the shame of the sins keeping us from the Father; now it glows with the flawless complexion of newborn creatures. The old has gone; the new has come.

Think: Have you noticed this transformation happening in your life? Is it ever hard to believe that God sees you through the perfect righteousness of Jesus because of your faith in him? What helps you to believe it?

Pray: Ask God to help you to become more and more convinced that Jesus’ goodness is far more powerful than your sin, that your faith in him is all that is necessary to make you acceptable to the Father.

Do: Think about this transformation for a minute the next time you look in a mirror.

Why Jesus?: The Ugly Mirror

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” (Colossians 1:21)

For the first time this week, we take our eyes off of Jesus in his natural state as fully God and in his completely human state as the perfect sacrifice – and we take a good look at ourselves in our natural form. And what we see is ugly.

trees_350We were alienated from him. He created us, but we rejected him. Why? Because we wanted to do whatever we wanted to do whether he liked it or not. We chose sin. We chose self. We did evil and became his enemies. We were hopelessly lost, and we didn’t want his help.

Why didn’t he just let us get what we deserved, what we earned with our evil choices and arrogant thoughts? He had every right to give up on us. He didn’t owe us a thing. Why pour his only Son into a body and into time and into pain and suffering and heartbreak for us?

Thank God he did.

Think: If someone exploring Christianity asked you the questions above – why would God sacrifice Jesus to save people who were rejecting him? – how would you answer that question?

Pray: Thank God that he did. Ask him to help you to be honest with yourself about the fact that you did nothing to earn a moment of eternity in his presence.

Do: In your favorite dictionary, look up and personalize the words “alienated,” “enemy,” and “evil.”

Why Jesus?: Peace through Blood

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20)

Even more gargantuan ideas about Jesus as both man and God:

trees_3501) All of God’s “fullness” lives in Jesus. Not only is Jesus the image of the invisible God, he is full of God on the inside, as well. In other words, Jesus is what Bible scholars call “fully God” – God inside and out.

2) Jesus is the agent God used to reconcile “all things” to himself. Another way of saying it is that Jesus was (and will be) the way God chose to fix all the broken things in the universe – to end every conflict forever.

3) God fixed (will fix) every broken thing by breaking Jesus, by crushing him, by allowing him to bleed as the sacrifice in place of all who deserved to bleed, instead. He brought peace by killing his Son.

Think: Would Jesus have qualified as the ultimate sacrifice for sin – the peacemaker who fixed every broken thing – if he had not been fully God? Could he have been the reconciler of “all things” if he was not also fully man? (Hint: No and no.)

Pray: Thank God that he was pleased to have his fullness live in Jesus. Thank him that he will eventually bring peace forever through what Jesus did on the cross.

Do: If you started a list yesterday of all the things we’ve learned about Jesus this week, add today’s 3 points to it.

Why Jesus?: Firstborn from the Dead and the Head

“And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” (Colossians 1:18)

Two more huge ideas about the Jesus who is fully God:

trees_3501) Paul often described the church – all of us who believe in Jesus and follow him – as a body. We are one thing with many parts. Your part is based on your spiritual gift or gifts. I’m a toe. You’re a spleen. We’re all one body.

Paul now identifies the above-the-neck portion of that metaphorical body. Jesus is our head. We are his arms, legs, toes, and spleens. He is the brain in the skull that signals us to action. Or reaction. Or inaction. It’s his call.

2) He is the first graduate of death. He is the bandleader marching out of the tomb with an army of future resurrectees following from our own graves. Because he lives, we will, too.

He rules. All.

Think: How is Jesus’ supremacy over the universe the same or different from his “headship” over the church? How is a body’s connection to a head different from any random citizen’s connection to a king?

Pray: Thank God that Jesus is the head of the church and the first of all those Jesus-believers who will also be resurrected.

Do: Quickly review the Colossians 1:15-22 in your Bible and make a quick bullet-point list of what it tells us about Jesus as God.

Why Jesus?: Holding It All Together

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

Every verse we read this week seems to double and triple my small-minded ideas of the power and glory of Jesus Christ. It’s mind-numbing enough to realize that “all things” were created by him and for him. I can’t even begin to process that.

trees_350But today’s verse piles on: All things “hold together” in him. It’s not just that he made it all or that it all had his name on it. His power is active right now. In this exact moment. Holding it all together. Without him, in other words, “all things” would fly apart in an instant.

No wonder we’re more comfortable with Jesus with his sandals and his disciples and even his hard words. His “other” identity is terrifying. We need to see his humanity so we can start to believe that a God like that could care about momentary specks in the cosmos like us.

Think: What must it have been like for Jesus, as God, to be trapped in space and time and flesh and blood like a regular person? Imagine the perfect patience it would take to put up with all of our sinful human foolishness and frailty.

Pray: Thank God for Jesus’ power in holding all things together and for the love he showed in living and dying as a mere human.

Do: Make your mental picture of Jesus even bigger.

Why Jesus?: It’s His Universe

“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

Have you ever heard or used that expression: “It’s so-and-so’s world; we’re just living in it”? It’s a way of saying that someone appears to be completely in control of everything in their world.

trees_350Of course it’s true for only one being: Jesus. He made everything. Every living thing. Every non-living thing. Everything you can see or can’t. Every being that breathes or exists somehow without breath. And it was all made “for him.” It’s literally his universe; we’re just living in it (because he made us and put us here).

Hearing that can either make you feel jealous and small and angry about the inequality of a universe where one being has all that power – or it can make you feel deeply grateful that such a being is also a person who would willingly sacrifice himself on a cross to include you in his plans for that universe.

What’s your response?

Think: How much power would it take to create everything in the universe? How much control would the Creator have over all that exists in his universe? Why, again, would Jesus let himself be mocked and killed by a handful of his tiny, weak creatures?

Pray: Thank God for letting you live in his universe and then thank him again and again for including you in his family through your faith in the Creator Jesus.

Do: Read more about this big idea in Romans 11:33 – 12:2.

Why Jesus?: Seeing God

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Colossians 1:15)

Could anyone else have done what Jesus did – dying for our sins on that ugly cross and rising from the dead to secure the victory? Nope. It had to be Jesus. Period. He is unique in all of the universe; without him we would be lost. We’re going to find out this week what makes him so special.

trees_350First, you can’t see God – but many people saw Jesus. We know him though the Word and so we have seen the Father. Jesus is the exact essence of the Almighty. Nobody else is God.

Second: Jesus existed before one molecule of creation came into being. He is everlasting. He has priority over everything and everyone because he was here first.

More tomorrow.

Think: How well do you know who Jesus really is? Does the idea of knowing him better excite you or does it feel like homework? Why?

Pray: Thank God for letting you know Jesus through faith and through studying him in the Bible. Thank him that Jesus allows you to “see” the Father – and that Jesus has always been.

Do: If you’ve got a minute, go back and read all the verses linked to above.