He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 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. 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 and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 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. (verses 15-20)
This is one of the great Christological passages in the New Testament, revelling in the awesome wonder of Jesus himself. It raises our sights, fixing our eyes on him, drawing us to worship, causing us to submit to his lordship and to yearn for the full extent of his glory to be experienced in all creation.
There is simply too much in this passage to absorb in a brief devotional, or even two or three, but we’ll linger for several days, soaking up as much as we can.
So, let’s start with the broad brushstrokes. These verses (six in total) are all part of one, gloriously long, run-on sentence. There’s a certain breathless wonder as Paul piles title upon title, concept upon concept, to give expression to the vastness of our Lord’s person.
In this mile-long sentence, there is one little word that does huge work, pushing the boundaries outwards and capturing something of the magnitude of Jesus’ position. It’s a little word that Paul writes in Greek – “pan,” translated into English as “all” or “everything.” We’re very familiar with this little word as it appears in the English word “pandemic” (meaning a disease that touches “all-people”), plus “pantheism” (“god in everything”), “pan-American” (involving “all the Americas,” North and South), and “pandemonium” (as if “all demons” were breaking out).
The word is used eight times in these six verses. Let me give you a concentrated taste:
(1) He is “over all creation.” (2) By him “all things were created,” and again, (3) “allthings were created by him and for him.” (4) He is “before all things.” (5) In him “all things hold together.” (6) The intent is that “in all (everything) he might have the supremacy.” (7) God was pleased to have “all his fullness dwell in him.” (8 ) And also, to reconcile “all things” to himself through him.
“All” is utterly expansive. It excludes nothing, but, instead, is vast and inclusive. In every dimension that “all” stretches out, we find that Jesus Christ the Lord is supreme. He is before all, above all, over all, holding all together. In the incomparable dimension of divinity, we discover that all the fullness of infinite God dwells within him – the fact that he even has capacity to accommodate such fullness convinces us he is truly one with the Father. He has supremacy in all things, which will be fully recognized in that day when every knee bows. Then, all will be reconciled to him, brought under his lordship, whether bowing the knee in eager, willing obeisance or under the undeniable weight of his sovereignty.
So, praise his name. Jesus Christ is Lord. Join with “all” in worship.
Lord Jesus, in view of your awesome majesty, I simply say, “Praise your Name.” I marvel at your greatness, exalted above all things in heaven and on earth and under the earth, before all time, now, and forevermore. Yet you embrace me in your love. I bow to your sovereignty. Thanks be to your name.
Reflect: Take one of the aspects of “all” and meditate on it today. Stew on it. Roll it over in your mind, again and again. Give him thanks. Sing his praise.