SECOND READING COLOSSIANS 1:15-23
15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers - all things have been created through him and for him. 17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
21And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him - 23provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.
GOSPEL READING MATTHEW 3:13-17
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness." Then he consented. 16And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."
[I apologize for not sending out the devotional yesterday. Just completely drained from the Azusa Now and the red eye back to MD. A lot to reflect upon and pray through!]
I decided to include for today's devotional both readings from the New Testament. As you can see, both passages are about Jesus! That really shouldn't be surprising in a general way since most of the NT is about Jesus. What is surprising a bit is how Jesus is described in each passage.
The reading from Matthew is the narrative of Jesus' baptism. The sequence in this episode is simple to follow. Like a snippet of a movie, you can picture what's going on. The elements in the sequence are not all natural; some important supernatural elements are included in this sequence, all of which having significant theological meaning.
The reading from Colossians, on the other hand, is not a narrative at all, but identity statements about who Jesus "really" is. The 'really' in double quotation marks indicates that Jesus cannot be understood in merely human terms. Jesus was certainly human -- a man who lived in Palestine, who carried out a ministry of teaching and doing miracles, a man who eventually died on a cross. (These characteristics of Jesus are simply traits of the "Jesus of history," as New Testament scholars in more liberal circles call Jesus. They distinguish this "Jesus of history" with the "Christ of faith." And according to these scholars what we get in Colossians is the "Christ of faith" -- beliefs about Jesus that were superimposed on him by his early followers in order to make Jesus worthy of worship.)
But from a biblical standpoint, the "Jesus of history" is the "Christ of faith." There is no bifurcation into a "Jesus" and a "Christ." The New Testament -- inclusive of the Gospel narratives and the NT letters -- presents a seamless testimony about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God incarnate.
When a "voice from heaven" [God the Father] says, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased," we are to understand this Sonship as an eternal one. There is no other "son" like Jesus to God the Father. This is an absolutely unique relationship that the Son has with the Father. This unique relationship is the foundational truth for the early followers' thinking about the Trinity -- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.
In addition, in the powerful and beautiful passage from Colossians we learn much more about the nature of the Son of God having come in the flesh of Jesus the Messiah. You want to see what God looks like? You want to "see" the invisible God? There's an answer: look at the Son, look at Jesus; he is the "image" of the invisible God. As profound as this answer is, however, there is a more profound truth that Paul expounds right after this verse. In the Son of God, all things are created. Created through the Son. And creation itself is created for one final purpose -- that is, creation is created for the Son. For the Son's Glory! This glory also includes creation which we know is fallen. Thus in the redemption of fallen creation and in the reconciliation of fallen creatures to God, the Son is further glorified!
And we have come to know this magnificent Son of God, as members of His Body! To begin to know the profundity and beauty of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, is a journey of knowledge, love, and worship which an infinite length of time won't be long enough to fully comprehend.
May your journey of discovering the depths of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, enrapture you to such an extent that a holy fascination with the Son of God becomes your number one obsession in life!
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, Son of God, capture our thoughts and hearts today. May we see more of you in our daily life and from the pages of scripture and from our interactions with your people and others and with creation, which were all created in you, through you, and for you! Amen!