The Trinity: God the Son
God in Three Persons: The Son (Col 1.13-20)
It was a feeling of joy that I had never felt before. In the fall of 2010 when Bethany first got pregnant. We decided early on that we weren't going to find out the gender for our first; it was going to be a surprise. People kept asking what I’m hoping for, boy or girl? You know the good Christian answer is to say that we will love the baby no matter the gender, thy will be done, and all that, but if I’m being honest, I really wanted a boy. The plan from the start was that if it was a girl, she would be Sophia Anne, and if he was a boy, he would be Alex Jr. Well the day finally came, July 27, 2011. We were at Owensboro hospital, induction, labor, and there he was, our firstborn son.
This is week three of our series on the Holy Trinity. We spent the first week dipping our toes in the historic orthodoxy language of Christianity – we believe in 1 God in 3 persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And then last week Pastor Kevin showed us the glorious work of the Father in the golden chain of redemption. This morning we consider the Son. If the danger last week was that we are too unfamiliar with the work of the Father, the danger this week is that we may be a bit too familiar with the work of the Son. We may be so used to the stories that we miss The Story.
Historically people have become confused about the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, and have even taught much heresy because they impose their understanding of children onto the Son of God. Sometimes, even unwittingly, we end up thinking of Jesus like he’s “god jr.” That is not the picture of Jesus God’s only Son our Lord that we see in the Scripture. There are a billion different things we could say about the Son from the Bible, but let’s look at the picture we’re given here in Colossians 1.13-20.
The Son is the Lord of Creation
Starting in verse 13, He [the Father] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Pastor Kevin mentioned this last week. In his forelove, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification (Rom 8.29-30), the Father has done more than merely save your soul from hell, or enabled you to “live your best life now.” He has delivered you from the domain of darkness. Just like Israel was led out of slavery in Egypt, so too have we been led out of slavery to Satan, sin, and death. We aren’t just delivered from the domain of darkness, but we’re transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son. The Father has taken the initiative to change our reality.
The kingdom of his beloved Son is what Jesus calls the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven. It is the spiritual reality that has been inaugurated with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which will be consummated as a physical reality when he returns to raise the dead, judge the world, and make all things new. It’s fair to ask, why Jesus? Why is he worthy to head this kingdom? The answer comes in the form of a hymn in verses 15-20.
Jesus of Nazareth, the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, is the Lord of creation. Paul says he’s the image (εἰκὼν) of the invisible God. That should harken your mind back to the creation account where Adam was created in the image of God. Jesus Christ is the ultimate image bearer. Not just as a human being, though he was, but as God incarnate. He is truly God and truly man.
He’s also the firstborn of all creation. This is the kind of language that has produced much confusion and bred heresy. What does it mean? It doesn’t mean that Jesus was the first thing created. Jesus isn’t the firstborn like Alex Jr is the firstborn, meaning the first to emerge from nonexistence. He’s not god jr. Remember, we have to train ourselves to read the Bible through the cultural lens of the original audience. The Bible was not written in English in 2019. Colossians was written in Greek in the first century, in a Roman-occupied, STJ Middle East. In that culture the firstborn son was the heir of the family. The rights and responsibilities of leading the family fell on him. He had the power and the burden. The Son is the firstborn of all creation in this sense. He was elected by the Father to lead and care for his creation.
If there was still any doubt in our minds about the origin of the Son of God, verses 16-17 clear it up. 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. The Son is the creator of all things. He created the earth and everything in it. He created all of those galaxies that Pastor Kevin mentioned last week. He created the invisible creatures, angles and demons, and Satan himself. He cannot be created for he created all things.
Not only did he create all things, but also all things were created for him. The meaning of history and the universe itself is the glory of the Son. Every creature that’s ever lived, every event that’s ever happened, from the most insignificant flap of a hummingbird’s wing, to the most momentous event in world history, it all exists and happens for the glory of Jesus the Son of God.
He holds the creation together. I’m not a theoretical physicist, so I can’t give you an explanation in terms of created matter for the fabric of the universe, but I can give you the final answer – Jesus. He upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1.3). He holds all things together.
The Son is the Lord of New Creation
But to stop there would be to have too small a view of the Son of God. He is not merely the lord of all creation, but he is also the lord of the new creation; he is the lord of redemption. Paul makes that point by singing about the glory of the church. And he is the head of the body, the church. How counterintuitive to our thinking. My mind is prone to think the church is less significant, I mean church is cool, but Jesus is lord of creation, that’s the real big deal. That’s not what Paul says. He begins with creation and builds to the church. As he speaks of redemption, resurrection, and the new creation, he begins with the church. The church is the most significant institution in all of history; more significant than any nation because the church is the holy nation. It is the dawning of the new creation.
That’s true because Jesus is the head of this body. Just like your head makes the decisions for your body, so Jesus is our ruler. Just like your head watches out for the rest of your body, so Jesus is our protector. Just like your head eats and drinks to sustain your body, so Jesus is our provider. 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. The Son of God is the head of God’s new people because he was the first of the new people. When Jesus Christ resurrected on the third day he was the first new creation. He is the first born from the dead. On the last day all people will be resurrected, but Jesus already is. He’s the first human who’s walked through the valley of the shadow of death and come out the other side. God did that for him so that he might be preeminent. No one else will ever be the firstborn of the dead. Jesus did it. It is finished. It is his permanent position.
Again Paul reminds us that this isn’t merely the man Jesus of Nazareth who is having miraculous things done to him. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. The Son, the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity dwelt in Jesus. 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 (John 1.1, 14). And through him the Son of God is reconciling all things to himself. Not only his people, though praise God he is reconciling us, but also this fallen world.
And he’s doing it through the gospel. Verse 20, making peace by the blood of his cross. It wasn’t merely Jesus of Nazareth that died on the cross bearing the sins of his people and experiencing the wrath of God. It was the Son, the 2nd person of the Trinity that died on the cross in the place of his people. It was the Son who bore the wrath of the Father on the cross. It was the eternal Son who made peace by the blood of his cross. The golden chain of redemption that we saw last week that is worked out by the Father happens because the Son lived a sinless human life, died as a substitute for sinners on the cross, and resurrected on the third day.
You see, this is not just heady theology. This is life and death. If you have a “god jr” view of Jesus Christ the Son of God, then you don’t really understand the gospel. If you don’t understand the gospel, then you’re dead in your sins. Oh come to the Father through Jesus the Son and give him the glory, great things he has done.