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What Child is This?

In a memorable scene from a well-known comedy, a family is seated at the dinner table, and the father is saying grace. He says, “Dear tiny, infant Jesus . . .”

His wife interrupts and says, “Hey, um, you know, sweetie, Jesus did grow up. You don’t always have to call him ‘baby.’ It’s a bit odd and off-putting to pray to a baby.”

“Well, look, I like the Christmas Jesus best, and I’m saying grace.”

He continues to pray to baby Jesus, and then the grandfather interrupts: “He was a man! He had a beard!”

The father argues, “Look, I like the baby version the best, do you hear me?” And then everybody starts talking about which version of Jesus they prefer.1

Now, I’m not endorsing the movie, but this particular scene illustrates a great truth: there are a lot of people who believe Jesus is whoever they want Him to be. Some people think of Jesus only as a tiny baby. But while the Jesus of the Bible came into this world as a baby, He is much more than that. Who is this child who was born in a feeding trough in Bethlehem two thousand years ago?

The best answer is found not in Luke 2, the traditional nativity account, but in Colossians 1. The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church at Colossae, which was being influenced by false teachers who distorted the gospel message.

Some of these false teachers distorted the person of Jesus. They said that Jesus was God, but not man. Or they claimed Jesus was man, but not God.

Other false teachers distorted the work of Jesus. They said Jesus’s death on the cross wasn’t enough for salvation. To be saved, they claimed, you also needed to obey a set of behaviors, or you needed some deeper knowledge that was reserved for only a few people.

Paul combatted all these heresies in his letter to the Colossians, and his theme is this: Jesus Christ is sufficient for every need you have. He is sufficient to save you. He is sufficient to secure you. He is sufficient to sustain you through whatever problems you are facing.

Jesus Christ Is Sufficient

How can we know that Jesus Christ is sufficient for our every need? Paul explained in Colossians 1:15–20 that Jesus is central in three specific realms of this universe. As you see the centrality of Jesus Christ in these three areas, you’ll become convinced that He is sufficient for you.

Creator of the Universe

A lot of Christians believe that Jesus first came on the scene at Bethlehem. No, the Bible says Jesus Christ is eternal, just as God is eternal. And in Colossians 1:15–17, Paul showed the central role Jesus played in the creation of the universe.

First of all, Jesus was preexistent to creation. Verse 15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God.” The word “image” in Greek can refer to a symbol, a lesser representation of something. But it can also mean “manifestation,” the full expression of something. For example, if you and I were talking about Tom Hanks, and suddenly he appeared in front of us, that physical presence would be the full manifestation of Tom Hanks. That is the sense in which Paul used the word “image” here. Jesus Christ is the full manifestation of the invisible God. Hebrews 1:3 says Christ is the “exact representation” of God. He’s not lesser; He is equal to God. As Jesus said in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” If you see Jesus, you see the invisible God.

Paul added in Colossians 1:15, “[He is] the firstborn of all creation.” The word “firstborn” in Greek is prototokos, from which we get our word prototype. When people try to argue that Jesus is not God, they often point to this verse and say, “See? Jesus was born. He wasn’t preexistent.” That’s not what Paul was saying here. Prototokos does not refer to chronology but to Jesus’s place in relation to all creation. Jesus is superior to everything that has ever been created.

Second, Jesus was the cause of creation. Colossians 1:16 says, “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible.” Everything that exists in this universe was created by that baby born in Bethlehem. The cross on which Jesus later hung was made of wood from a tree that Jesus Himself had created.

And notice the word “all” in verse 16—all things were created by Jesus. Think of the vastness of this universe. Do you know the average distance between each star in the Milky Way galaxy? Thirty trillion miles. To give you an idea of how far that is, Norm Geisler wrote, “If you could get in the Space Shuttle and speed through space at nearly five miles per second, it would take you 201,450 years to travel 30 trillion miles! In other words, if you had gotten into the Space Shuttle at the time of Christ and begun traveling from our sun toward another star an average distance away, you would be only one-hundredthof the way there right now.”2 And that’s just the distance between two stars in one galaxy. There are billions of other galaxies in the universe and millions of stars in each one. Where did it all come from? That baby in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ.

Third, Jesus is the heir of creation. Look again at verse 16: “All things have been created through Him and for Him.” The purpose of creation was so that Jesus could reign over this universe. Everything was created for Him. And guess what? If you’re related to Him by faith, it was created for you as well.

Finally, Jesus sustains the creation. Verse 17 says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Jesus not only created this world, but He also holds it together. As the writer of Hebrews said, Jesus “upholds all things by the word of His power” (1:3).

Let me illustrate that for you. Our earth is tilted on its axis at 23 degrees. If that tilt changed in the least amount toward the sun, we would burn up. On the other hand, if that tilt changed the least bit away from the sun, we would freeze to death. In fact, Oxford researchers recently said they believe intelligent life is “likely to be exceptionally rare” because all the conditions that had to be exactly right for intelligence to exist on earth are unlikely to be duplicated anywhere else.3 What Oxford calls exceptional the Bible calls Jesus Christ. He is the one who created this world, and He is the one who upholds it.

If Jesus Christ is powerful enough to uphold everything in this universe, then don’t you think He’s powerful enough to uphold every detail of your life? There is nothing that comes into your life without purpose. There are no random people or random circumstances. Nothing is out of His control. Jesus Christ is sustaining you and upholding you by the word of His power.

Generator of Eternal Life

Not only is Jesus Christ the Creator of all things, but He is also the generator of eternal life. Colossians 1:18 says, “He is also head of the body, the church; and . . . the firstborn from the dead.” That word for “head” in Greek can mean Jesus is the authority over the body—that is, Christians. There is no doubt about that; Jesus is in charge of our lives. But the word “head” can also refer to the source of power. I think that’s what Paul had in mind here. Jesus Christ is the power source for all Christians.

What kind of power? Certainly, He gives us the power to overcome sin in our lives as well as the power to sustain us through life’s crises. But the primary power that comes from Jesus Christ is eternal life. Look at that phrase “firstborn from the dead.” Again, we find the Greek word prototokos. Jesus is the prototype of the dead. Does that mean He was the first person ever raised from the dead? No, Elijah, Elisha, and other Old Testament prophets raised people from the dead as a sign of power. Jesus Himself raised Lazarus from the dead.

But here’s the key difference: those people all died again, but Jesus is still alive. He is the prototype of a new kind of resurrection and a new body that will never die. Millions of Christians will one day inherit the same kind of body Jesus inherited. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” Jesus is the generator of eternal life for everyone who trusts in Him. If you are a Christian, one day you are going to receive a brand-new body from Jesus that is free from pain and suffering and sin and heartache.

This time of year, you may be grieving the loss of loved ones. You wonder, Will I ever see them again? All you have to do is look at Jesus and His resurrection body. As John wrote in 1 John 3:2, “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him.” In His resurrection body, Jesus knew and fellowshipped with other people. That means our relationships, too, will endure beyond the grave. The Bible says if your loved ones knew Christ as Savior, you will enjoy fellowship with them in heaven forever.

Jesus Christ has the power to deliver you out of the grave and give you a new body, one that will last for eternity. And if He is sufficient for your eternity, then He is sufficient for your here and now too.

Reconciler to God

Finally, Jesus Christ is our reconciler to God. Look at Colossians 1:19–20: “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” The reason God poured all of Himself into Jesus was so that Jesus could fulfill His primary mission on earth, and that is to reconcile us to God.

Every problem you face right now, whether it’s a financial problem, a health problem, or a relationship problem, is the result of a world that is not at peace with God. What the world needs—and what you and I need—is reconciliation with God.

There’s only one way for us to be reconciled to God, and that is to be forgiven of our sins. But we can’t forgive ourselves; it is only “through the blood of His cross” that we are forgiven (v. 20). The blood of Christ is the only thing sufficient to reconcile us to our heavenly Father and ensure eternal life. That’s why Peter said in 1 Peter 3:18, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.” Jesus Christ is sufficient to save us and to secure our place in God’s presence for eternity.

The Central Issue

Whatever problems you may be confronting in your life right now, remember who Jesus is: He is the Creator of the universe. He is the generator of eternal life. And He is our reconciler to God.

That baby born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago is the central issue in this vast universe He created. He is sufficient to sustain the universe, and He is sufficient to sustain you now—and for all eternity.

1. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, dir. Adam McKay (Columbia Pictures, 2006).

2. Norman L. Geisler, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 109.

3. Elizabeth Howell, “Intelligent Alien Life Is Rare in the Universe, Study Concludes,” Forbes, December 8, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/elizabethhowell1/2020/12/08/intelligent-alien-life-is-rare-in-the-universe-study-concludes.

Originally published on PTVtoday.com

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