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Jesus is our Real Father

Colossians 1:15-29

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Please turn to Colossians 1:15-29, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. 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. And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ. For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me.” May God help us to understand these words.

I’d like to share about the consequences that I can see of the things that we’ve shared over the past few weeks and the first is this – I’m sure none of us have any trouble thinking of our dads or our mums and immediately their dear faces spring to our eyes, and we know exactly and I can smell my dad’s tobacco and so we all have no trouble thinking immediately of our dads and our mums. And that governs a great deal of our living even after we’ve married and we’ve our own children and all that kind of thing. Still, that governs a lot of our lives and what I can see is that that’s not reality. That isn’t reality.

So I’d just point you to some of the verses that we’ve already dealt with in the past but Ephesians 2:10 is an obvious one. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship,” that’s God’s, “Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” That’s the reality. We were not first created in our mum’s womb, but we were created first in Christ Jesus. And please, I’m with everybody here that things, “But that’s metaphor, metaphor, metaphor, that’s just a metaphor.” Well, you know, as we’ve studied it, it isn’t just a metaphor.

Right throughout the Bible you read, “All things were created by him and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men.” [John 1:4] So repeatedly in the Bible we see that it is true, everything was created in Jesus, not least of all us, ourselves. It’s very easy for us to take the attitude, “Oh yes, you mean the first little amoeba on the first little pond was created in Jesus, and of course, we eventually came from that somehow.” Well no, according to what God has told us, it’s a much more personal thing than that.

And it’s back in Psalms 139 which we looked maybe about a month ago almost most. Psalms 139:13-16, “For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame was no hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret.” You know which is obviously different from my mother’s womb. “My frame was no hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance.” Not talking about embryo or anything but an unformed substance, “Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

And you can see the whole thrust of that is that God saw each one of us long before we appeared in our mother’s womb and long before we appeared on this earth. God saw us and saw us made and it should be no surprise to us with the computers and our own ability to foresee things that he foresaw what was likely to happen. It’s quite interesting I found a bit in one of the old church fathers that Barth quotes. It is Athanasius, whom some of us know him from church history studies, and he says, and puts it really as some of these old guys do very simply, later on I’ll read his complex abstract statement first, “The God of all things who created us by his word knew what should befall us better than we ourselves. And he foreknew that after our first righteousness which should transgress his commandment and that because of our disobedience we should be expelled from paradise for that reason in his loving kindness and goodness he prepared beforehand in his word by which he created us, a provision for our salvation. He did this so that even if we fell deceived by the serpent, we should not finally be destroyed but possessing the redemption and salvation prepared beforehand to the word should rise again and live forever.” [The Incarnation of the Word, Athanasius]

And then he has this little example, “Now wise master builder when he undertakes to build a house, considers at the same time how he may repair that house should it fall into decay after its erection. And weighs up what preparations must be made for that purpose, supplying the foreman with the materials necessary for such repair and thus making all the preparation for renovations even before the house is built.” And we know fine well ourselves, you prepare, Yeah, “I’ll fly to the States in June, but if Continental goes bust I’ll…” and we line up the contingencies. And so it’s not remarkable that our God who has an infinite mind, who can see far beyond where we can, that he would, when he first conceived of his only begotten Son and conceived at that same moment of bringing about our existence in his Son and created us in his Son that he foresaw that if he was going to give us the same freedom that his Son had then we could abuse that freedom and then all would have to be done again. Then he determined that his Son, and his Son was pleased to agree with his Father, that whatever we did he would hold us inside himself whatever the cost. Even if it brought about the agony that was expressed on Calvary.

You know I have likened it to us having a virus inside our own bodies or a cancer eating away inside all the time. That’s really what he bore. It’s in that sense that he bore our sins, he kept us inside himself whatever the costs and he still at this moment does. Even for the guy that murdered somebody yesterday in New York, he keeps him inside himself and bears that in order to do everything to give him a chance of coming into heaven with him. But, God foresaw that and he created us in his Son. You can see what I mean — you’ve guessed it at times yourself — I’m sure you’ve thought as I have thought, I mean my dad and mum are dead now but I did think, “What would happen when they die?” I thought the world would end when they died but then when they die and then their memory is very vivid. Then I used to think of my dad when he was my age, how did he forget his mother and think of

me so much. And of course, it’s just a fact that as the time goes by they fall into the right place. They fall into the place that God gave them. They were God’s method of bringing us to earth. That’s all they are.

And when we see them again, well we’ll still know them as dad and mum but we’ll all be the same age, or we’ll all be beyond age and so in that sense, just as there’s no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven, so there will be in a sense no father, and mother, and son, and daughter. We will all be the children. Ridiculous though it sounds because you’re – well, you know better than to say, “Yes of God,” we will all be the children of Jesus. We will all be the children of Jesus . I’d just remind you of the piece there, I think it’s in Isaiah isn’t it, it’s Isaiah 9:6, that remarkable piece of Isaiah that is used in Handel’s Messiah and we all sing it confidently, gaily ignoring its meaning, of course.

Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name,” this is Jesus we all know that, he is the son that was born. “And his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor,’” and we agree with that, “Might God,” and we agree with that, “Everlasting Father.” No, no, God is our everlasting Father. But no, in God’s inspiration of Isaiah he expressed the reality that Jesus is the Everlasting Father. You know, wherever God is Jesus is and wherever Jesus is God is wherever the Holy Spirit is God is. You know, the trinity means that wherever one is present they are all present. Of course Jesus is our Everlasting Father because we were created in Christ.

So that’s a different way to think. If you, and I know you do want to live in reality and I want to live in reality, I can see that I have to live in that reality that Jesus is my Father. That Jesus is my dear parent. That he is the one who has begotten me and the things that I have are the things that he has. They are not the temporal things, some of them weaknesses that we inherited from our dads and mums. They are not even the strengths, some of which we inherited from our dads and mums, but we are Jesus’ children. He is our dear Father, we owe him everything.

So, I don’t know about you but I certainly always wanted to please my dad, you know, and I wanted him to be proud of me and all that sort of thing and I’d imagine you’re the same with mum or dad. And please, I’m not saying that the Savior did not show some of himself through them, I’m not saying that they aren’t as precious as we are, but they’re precious because of Jesus in them and Jesus is our Father even above them. I remember, having a real struggle, I was a dumb guy, I mean, I was not as mature presumably as I should be, but as I came up into the teens I felt it was a real competition to have a girlfriend. I mean, how could I love my mother and have a girlfriend at the same time. I was not a mommies’ boy by any means, I was dad’s boy probably if anything. But I felt great loyalty, you know, to my parents.

Well, now you couldn’t divide your loyalties and so when I began to try to think of God and my parents then I saw, “How can you divide your loyalties?” How can this be your dad, your dear father and how can Jesus be your dear Father? But in reality that is the truth. Jesus is the one who has begotten us he is our real father. He is the one to whom we owe everything. And can you see what I’m saying that he in a way, it is reality that he takes the place of our Father in not only our affections if you’d like to put it, but in our efforts in this life. It’s to please him. It’s to make him proud of us. It’s even more than that and I’ll try to come to that in a moment, but he is the one under whose influence and care we live, and under who’s upbringing and education we exist, and he is the one who’s praise we want, and he is the one whom we want to be proud of us, and he is the one we want to please. And that is actual reality.

Please, I’m not advising you to do this. I’m just telling you the best that I can understand of this book [Bible] and of this presentation of reality is that that is reality, that we are actually Jesus’ children and every moment of our life is lived in reality if it’s lived with him as the over shadowing over sheltering surrounding person who loves us. I still remember, I mean, we all have so many funny little things about our dads and I think I’ve told you before, it was wonderful to fry, fry in Ireland, everything was fried. And of course that fried breakfast I told you – oh Shelia I should remember that there’s someone here to corroborate or contradict me now because my wife wouldn’t dare.

But we used to have for Sunday morning fried soda bread, fried pancakes, fried potato bread, fried plain bread, fried pan bread, fried vita, everything fried plus the bacon and the eggs. But to me there was nothing as wonderful my stuff was okay, but if dad, you cut soda bread you’d cut it in strips and then we would put bacon on it and tomato ketchup and it was just wonderful and to eat my dad’s sandwich was more wonderful than mine could ever be. And so I know what we all probably have felt about our mums and dads, we have all kinds of dear things that we respect them for tremendously but after all that’s said and done I know that those of them who are in heaven at this moment are saying the same thing to us, “Yes, Jesus is your Father. He is everything to you. He is the one who gave you life. It is his blood that flows through your veins. It is his air that you’re breathing. It’s him that holds everything together at this moment.”

And that seems particularly strong to me in that piece in Colossians where, “In him all things hold together.” [Colossians 1:17] In him at this moment our bodies hold together, our brains hold together, the air around us, the bricks of this chapel, everything holds together in Jesus. It is in him that everything has existence and so reality is living with him as our dear Father.

Now, the other side that I saw was that we have not only thought of our fathers and our mums as the people we should please, but of course, ourselves. And indeed they in their innocence often encouraged this because they said, “Now son,” or I don’t know that they called you daughter but they called us son, “Now son, you’re going forward into life now it’s up to you to make of it what you can and you’ll have to plow out there yourself, get a good education, good job, and do well. But you’ll have to stand up for yourself and you’ll have to make something of yourself.” And they did that in good faith.

But of course, after we get through our high school years and our teenage years we have converted that all into me, me, me, me, me, me. I mean, everything is judged on the basis of me and how it affects me and am I going to fulfill myself in this job? Am I going to be totally fulfilled? Are my brilliant talents going to be used properly to the benefit of society and me and we all think in terms of me, me, me. And even those of us who think of ourselves as unselfish find that our thoughts are always judging how do I feel this morning? How will I enjoy this day? What am I going to do this afternoon? It’s all from the point of view of me.

Now of course, what we’ve been seeing is that in a way there is only one human being and that’s the importance of that, what to me seemed a ridiculous verse, I would just ask you to look at it again because I ignored some of these verses for years. I just ignored them because what could you make of them? They didn’t make any sense. It’s Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God,” and that was no trouble because I was always taught Jesus was the son of God and was the revelation of God. But the next phrase, “The first-born of all creation.” I just couldn’t make sense of it at all. Jesus, the first-born of all creation? First of all, if you think of him born as a little

baby and 4 BC or 6 BC or not BC, whatever it was, that wasn’t – he wasn’t the first born. There were thousands and thousands of years of humanity before him so, how could he be the first-born of all creation?

Yet that runs right through you know, in Verse 18, “He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning.” He is the beginning. “The first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent.” And so you’re eventually driven to see that, if you like there was a millisecond when God was, then the next millisecond he conceived of his Son, his only begotten Son and that same millisecond he conceived of him as being a man. As being a man who would live on earth and not a man who would live on earth for a short time as we all kind of thought but a man who would continue to be a man even after he came back from earth. So that when the Bible talks about judgment day it says, “Not when the Son of God comes in his glory and all his holy angels with him before him will be gathered all the nations and he will separate them as the shepherd separates the sheep from goats.” But, “When the son of man comes in his glory and all his holy angels with him.” [Matthew 25:31]

So, obviously, Jesus is a man forever. He’s the son of God he’s the complete and only begotten son of God in a way that you and I never can be but he is a man forever. He is a human being. He doesn’t just come down visit us, and then go before his Father and say, “I represent these human beings.” But he himself is the human being. He was the first-born human being. Abraham was not our original father, Jesus was our original father not only before the creation but as the first human being. It was in him that all human beings were born on earth.

I agree with you, he appeared not to come to earth until 6 BC but even that is questionable because you remember Daniel walking in the lion’s den they say, “We beheld somebody that looked like the son of man.” So often we talk in the Old Testament of times when there are these appearances of God that are unknown. There are these remarkable figures that we cannot identify. So Jesus himself was the first-born of all creation and out of him came all human beings. In a sense God sent his son to complete the creation that he and his son came first as whoever Adam was and then came as Adam’s son, and then came as Adam’s grandson, etc., etc. Then he showed who he was by coming as himself in Galilee for 33 years and then left the earth and continued to live in different men in his spirit. But he is the great human being and we are his body. That’s it.

That’s what the Bible says so clearly. You are the body of Christ and individually members of him. Individually limbs of him. And I sympathize with everybody here that has been taught as I was taught a kind of a team idea. We were taught the body of Christ is a kind of community, it’s a kind of a church, and it’s a kind of team. We’re all on a team, that’s the way you’re the body of Christ. You’re part of not this club or that church but you’re part of this club which we call the body of Christ. Except that’s not what the Bible says. If it does say that, it’s ridiculously literal in its interpretation of the metaphor because it goes on in detail in 1 Corinthians 12 to say, you know, “The eye can’t say that it has no need of the hand and the hand can’t say it has no need of the foot.” Well, if this was just a general kind of metaphor then of course it wouldn’t deal with it as literally. But in fact, it’s very clearly stated that Jesus himself is actually in each one of us.

You know that’s in several places but you can find it certainly in John 17:23. Jesus talks about his life before the world was. Verse 22, “The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me.” “I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them

even as thou hast loved me.” But that Jesus is in each one of us and we are his body here on earth and that’s it.

That it’s not you plowing out trying to prove yourself or trying to do something worthwhile that will make your wife proud of you or will make your mother proud of you. It’s not you here on earth trying to fulfill yourself. Each of us is part of Jesus. It is him who has a work to do here on earth that can only be done through each of us. What makes sense to me is I can see why we are all different. We can see why we’re all different. I mean, it is quite remarkable that even identical twins are different from each other in some way that even their mother and father at times can’t see, but everyone of us is different because Jesus himself is so glorious and so many faceted that he can only show himself as he is which is what showing his glory is. It’s showing him as he is. He can only show himself as he is through millions of people like us who will express a part of him that nobody else can express. So, of course, reality is that Jesus is in each of us and that we are here to do works, actually that that Ephesians passage says, “He has prepared beforehand for us to walk in. For you are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

And so you and I come here with an agenda that Jesus has and things to do that he has planned to do from before the foundation of the world. Of course it transforms all we do because if all you do throughout your whole life is brush the floor of this chapel, that is a work that God prepared beforehand for you to do. That’s why it makes sense to me, Apinya or Ada, when I think of the millions of little ones, they’re here in England too but it’s just in China or in Asia we think of them more. There are millions, and millions of little ones but nobody knows what they’re doing and they’re doing all kinds of things, they suffer all kinds of things, they bear all kinds of things that nobody knows, that nobody talks about. There are no psychologists to ask them if they’re being fulfilled, or there are no sociologists that are tabulating them. There are all kinds of little hearts all through the world that live and die and nobody seems to care or know them. But they have fulfilled a work that God prepared beforehand for his son to do.

And so each one of us are in that situation. That we’re here not for ourselves and it’s not me, and it doesn’t matter actually anything about me. Would I rather be me, a miserable little creature that does some of the things that thousands of others could do or would I rather be a tiny little cell in the one unique person in the universe? Well, I know what I’d rather be. It’s obvious you’d far rather be what God has made us, a vital part of his own son.

I’d just say one more thing, I think it’s very easy for you to sit, and me to sit, and me to stand and listen to this and think, “Oh yes, you mean I kind of do something that Jesus wants to do?” No. You are something that Jesus himself is. You are a part of Jesus. You are not just a tool, an extension of his hands, you are a part of him. That’s what it says. He says, “Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself neither can you unless you abide in me. If you do not abide in me you have no life in you.” Barth says, “He lives and I live also.” That’s it. Jesus lives and because he lives I live also. If he would cease to live I would cease to live. I am part of him.

If you say, “A cell in his body?” Well, that’s the way I’ve put it but that’s not enough because we are not conscious of every cell in our bodies. So it gives you a wrong idea. We are – more if you’d like to say an eye because we’d know if we lost an eye. In other words, we are dear in Jesus. We are a dear part of him. Indeed, we are more than that because we can think a cell doesn’t apparently have a brain or emotions but each one of us have all that Jesus has. So we are in a

sense a full replica of Jesus and yet we’re only part of his beauty and part of his wonder. But it means that each of us here exists for him to speak and do what he has planned to speak and do in us. So, of course, it just, it just blows you out of the whole egotism stuff you know.

All I could say to you is the best that I can see is that is reality and all I can see is each of us, if we want to live in reality, need to be willing in every little detail no longer to think of ourselves but only of him. And though we have kind, and loving, and grateful thoughts towards our mums and dads, in a sense see that they are older brothers and sisters, but that he is our dear Father and we owe everything to him. And reality is living like that. Living in that certainty that he is our dear Father and he is watching us and looking down upon us, proud of us, watching every step and providing all that we need and he himself is in us and has things to do today that we alone can do.

Let us pray. Holy Spirit, without you we see no hope. Our minds are so small, our habits are so engrained, and without you we see no hope of living in this reality. But with you, we know that that is possible. We know Father, blessed Lord Jesus, we know that you do not mock us, you do not create a reality in which we cannot live. We know you are all wisdom, and reason, and order, and whatever you have created as reality you’ve created it so we would live in it.

Holy Spirit, we can only throw ourselves before you. We can only open our hearts and our whole lives to you and say, “Holy Spirit, you who are Jesus, because we know the Lord is the Spirit, you are our Lord Jesus in us.” Holy Spirit, will you lead us into this life of reality so that we live it every second of every day and through the night hours as we begin to discover the wonder and the safety of having you as our dear Father Lord Jesus. You who have begotten us, you have borne us inside yourself at great pain and you who continue to lovingly keep us in your arms even as we smash you in your face. And then Lord Jesus, that we begin to live in the reality that this is your life not ours. That this is your body, and your fingers, and your eyes, and not ours. And that you have something to do through us in our life here on earth and something to be that you cannot be or do through any other person.

Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the dear Holy Spirit be with each of us today and throughout this week. Amen.