He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 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. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 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, 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.
– Colossians 1:14–23
Remember from our last devotion that the Colossians congregation was dealing with the problem of Gnosticism. The Gnostics claimed, in short, that Jesus is a great starting point, but that you must go beyond Jesus. They also seemed to teach that if you did certain things, like fast or worship on certain days, people could move beyond the starting point off Jesus.
But just read through the verses above again. Count/circle/underline how many times Paul mentions “all” or “everything” in connection to Jesus. Seriously, do it before you read any further.
Did you count/circle/underline? Good! Do you think Paul might just be trying to drive home a point here? Of course he is!
You don’t move beyond Jesus! You don’t need something in addition to Jesus! Jesus is all you need and in Jesus you have everything!
It can be tempting to believe that we need to move beyond Jesus. It can be tempting to start to think that the gospel just isn’t quite enough and we need something more…something different.
This is a constant temptation for us to believe too. How can it truly be that Jesus has done EVERYTHING needed for our salvation? Even bigger, how can we believe that in Jesus God has saved not just us but the entire world?
Yet this is the gospel truth! Jesus is over all things, the head of the church, the firstborn from the dead, the firstborn of creation and the one who created all things. Jesus is Lord over all things. Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the embodiment of the fullness of God, and Jesus has made peace for us with God by His blood.
Verses 21-23 are a further exposition by Paul on the reality that Jesus has made peace by the blood of His cross. Take a moment now to read through verses 21-23 and note what it says Jesus has done for sinners like you and me.
In these verses Paul notes that we were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, but Jesus reconciled us to God by His death! And Jesus has reconciled us in order to present us holy and blameless and above reproach.
And yet we come back to that nagging question: But what do we need to do? What must I do in order to be right with God?
We don’t need to do anything. We simply trust in the one who had done it ALL for us. Through Jesus we are reconciled to God. Because of Jesus, forgiveness is ours. Through Jesus, resurrection life awaits.
So don’t shift from the hope of the gospel that you heard in confirmation class! Don’t think that you ever need to move beyond Jesus and His gospel. Rather, seek to be more and more deeply rooted in Christ, not shifting from the hope of the gospel you heard.
Lord Jesus, you have done everything needed for our salvation. You are our all in all. Keep us from prideful thoughts that we can or need to move beyond You and Your work. Instead, help us to rest in Your completed work, knowing that in You and through the blood of the cross we are reconciled to God. Keep us firm in the faith, not moving from the good news of the gospel, but trusting in it more and more. In Your precious name we pray. Amen.
Questions for conversation
- Why do you think it is tempting to think that we need to move beyond Jesus and His gospel?
- What are some ways you have seen people seek to move beyond Jesus and His gospel?
- Bonus point: The Gnostics thought of the spiritual as superior to the physical. How does Paul highlight the necessity of the physical? Hint, see verse 20 and 22 and 2:9