“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” (Colossians 1:15–20 ESV).
Why Was This Necessary?
If Christ was already supreme in eternity past, what did his actions for us do to magnify his supremacy?
Whenever we talk about the Trinity, many people check out and say, I can’t understand it all so I don’t want to think about it. Yet we don’t do that with other things. We don’t look at the ocean and say, because I can’t see all of it, I won’t enjoy any of it. Or if I can’t see all the sky I won’t enjoy the sunset. Can we understand all the mysteries of the Trinity or trinitarian purposes? No. But there is so much that we can see, and it is beautiful. Here is one dimension God allows us to see and understand.
What was pre-incarnation like for Christ? Glory. Infinite glory emanating from him. His character was absolutely perfect in every way. However, Christ had glories or attributes to his character that were known only to the Father and had never had an opportunity to be expressed or worshiped.
- The depth of his love had never been displayed as there had never been enemies to love
- The extent of his obedience had never been known because there was no context where he chose to suffer in his obedience.
- His power and creative imagination had not had an opportunity to be seen like a master painter without a canvas or brush
- His mercy – there were never people who deserved one thing and got another
- His compassion for the pain and suffering of others
- His wisdom and teaching
- His capacity for friendship and relationship even with those infinitely less than he
“So that in everything he might have the supremacy” (v. 18 NIV). So why was all of this necessary? Why all of creation and all of salvation and the saga of the billions of people who have ever lived and all the triumphs and tragedies of human history? Why was all this done? So that the Son would be glorified in all of his perfections and for all his glorious beauty.
So, God the Father (verse 9), acting according to the mystery of his will, purposed in Christ to display the “firstness” of Christ, his preeminence. His supremacy.
This means Christ isn’t worth more on the other side of his resurrection or even after his second coming; he had always been the infinitely valuable Son of God. But his worth and glory was now displayed in a new and beautiful way for which he can be praised.
It’s like The Antique Road Show. You’ve seen this. People bring something that’s been laying around in their attic. They dust it off and clean it up. They shine the spotlights on it, and they get the experts there and they examine the detail of the painting or embroidery and they declare, “This piece is worth $30,000!” Everybody oohs and aahs and heads for their attic to see what might be up there.
Was that antique worth more after the appraisal? No. It was already valuable in the attic. For years that thing had sat in their attic and been valuable. It wasn’t suddenly more valuable when the appraiser declares its worth than it was a few hours before in the attic. It’s just that now it is on display before the world as being a treasure.
The incarnation was God bringing the Son out of the attic. His miracles and teaching and life were the Father fixing his lights on the Son. And the cross was God dusting off the Son and showing him to the world for how beautiful he had always been. To be admired and seen in all of his glory. And now we ooh and ahh at him. And all of it was done for the praise of his glory, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Additional Scripture quotations taken from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
© 2020 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here