Reader: “Christ is the visible image”
Response: “of the invisible God.”
Scripture: Colossians 1:15-20
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.
He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
The passage you just read is one of the most complete and profound summaries of understanding who Jesus is in all of Scripture. Many of the early Christian debates as to the identity of Christ focused on this passage. Pair this pericope with the Annunciation we spoke of yesterday and you have quite a discussion! Let’s dig in. First, I want to walk us through this passage and then connect the end of this to the conception of Jesus.
Jesus Christ is the invisible God made visible in human flesh. God determined this was the best way to solve our problem, someone we can see, hear and touch. He has never not existed and is supreme over everything created. Put another way, he existed when nothing else did. He is God’s agent of creation in all realms of heaven as well as earth. Everything was created through him and for him. He is also the one who holds all creation together. Now, the interesting connection to people. He is the head of the Church, which is his metaphorical body which consists of his followers. Jesus is united with his worldwide disciples (Jn. 17:21). Jesus is fully God in every way. It is through Christ that God is reconciling everything to himself. How does that happen? The concluding sentence of this passage answers the question very clearly―by the shed blood of Christ on the cross.
(I am indebted to Carl Gallups’ book, Gods of the Final Kingdom for some of the following insights.) As many of you know, Nancy and I took care of newborn babies until they went to their adoptive parents. She also worked as a doula (a birth coach) so there is familiarity with pregnancies and birth. Now to some direct questions. Jesus was born as a human being and appeared in human form (Phil.2:7). All human beings have a sin nature. Did Jesus? A phrase associated with the Savior is “only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:16). That phrase means “One of a kind,” monogenés in Greek. “Only begotten” means there are no other humans like this person.
We move on to Gabriel’s visit to Mary. Words are so important. His words were, “The Holy Spirit will come on you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) The Holy Spirit in overshadowing Mary would generate within her womb the conception of Jesus out of nothing. This is the very same language used in Genesis 1:2. The Spirit was hovering over the face of the waters. God spoke creation into being. God spoke Jesus into the form of a human. This does not mean that Christ had not previously existed. Remember what you just read in Colossians. He had not existed in the form of a human.
Simply by his word, God created and placed a human embryo in the womb of Mary, a one of a kind miracle. You may recall that an unborn baby’s blood is separate from its mother’s. Its DNA is different. Its life is completely separate from the mother’s. Neither Joseph nor Mary’s blood was involved in the creation of the embryo that was Jesus. So there is none of the “fallen nature” of humans being passed into the embryo. While nutrition passes from the mother to the baby through the placenta, the circulatory systems are completely separate. The carbon dioxide and waste from the fetus are passed back through the placenta and disposed into the mother’s system for disposal.
In summary, the blood, DNA and the body of the baby are completely and uniquely different from the mother’s. The Spirit of God―Divinity―and the “seed of the woman”―humanity― (Gen.3:15) produced the holy offspring of Mary, the Incarnate Son of God, the Savior of the world.
One additional observation. As we said the other day, the blood of Christ shed on the cross was holy, pure, blood of the sinless Redeemer. The Father could accept the blood of his Son as atonement for our sin because it was pure, untainted, the perfect sacrifice. Therefore, it need never be repeated. Another implication of the significance and importance of recognizing the divine conception of Jesus. The birth of the babe in the manger is deceptive in its simplicity and overwhelmingly profound in its Christology.
Music: “O Magnum Mysterium” Lauridsen Voces8 glorious recording!!!!
Bonus: Morten Lauridsen the composer talking about the composition of this masterpiece. Fascinating! DO NOT MISS THIS
“O Magnum Mysterium” King’s College Choir with video
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the newborn Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
the Lord, Jesus Christ.
O God, who hast proven Thy love for mankind by sending us Jesus Christ our Lord, and hast illumined our human life by the radiance of His presence, I give Thee thanks for this Thy greatest gift.
For His willingness to take the form of a human:
For His willingness to leave the glories of heaven:
For His great love for a broken and fallen creation:
For my Lord’s days upon earth:
For the wonder of the Incarnation:
For His obedience unto death:
For His triumph over death:
For the presence of His Spirit with me now:
I thank thee O God.
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I commit all my ways unto Thee. May this day be for me a day to reflect my love to the Savior. May all my walk and conversation be such as becometh the gospel of Christ. Amen.
―Diary of Private Prayer, p.29, Adapted Daniel Sharp