Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Knowing God by Looking at Jesus

James Meehan - Knowing God by Looking at Jesus

  • Watch
  • Audio
  • Get involved
    James Meehan - Knowing God by Looking at Jesus
TOPICS: Culture Makers

James Meehan: Well, welcome to the first "Switch Uncut" of 2022. Whoop, whoop!

Kaitlyn Caffrey: Let's go.

James Meehan: That's what I'm gonna start saying after 2022 every time from now on.

Kaitlyn Caffrey: Every single time.

James Meehan: Ladies and gentlemen, I am one of your hosts, James Meehan. This is my dear friend, your other host, Kaitlyn Caffrey. And what we're gonna do today is what we've been doing on this series we call "Switch Uncut," which is exploring your questions about faith, following Jesus, and the Bible. Now, specifically what we want to do today is create an episode that builds on what we're talking about in this message series that we just started last Wednesday, Who is God. Because the truth is one of the most important questions we can ask as human beings is, who is God? And then from there, we want to discover and explore what he's like and ultimately what that means for us. And so what we're gonna do today is actually Kaitlyn's gonna read to us a passage of scripture from Colossians 1. She's gonna read it to us from the beginning to the end. We're gonna take some time to explore the context of who wrote it, who they were writing it to, why they wrote it. And then from there, we're actually gonna go back into that passage and just walk through it verse by verse so that together we can all learn better how to study the Bible and draw out these different implications that have radical impacts on the way that we live. So with all of that being said, Kaitlyn, will you take it away and read the scripture for the first episode of "Switch Uncut" in 2022? Whoop, whoop!

Kaitlyn Caffrey: He didn't follow through. That's commitment. Cool, so we we're reading Colossians 1, starting in verse 15.

James Meehan: Love it.

Kaitlyn Caffrey: It says, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him, all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible; whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he's the head of the body, the church; he's 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 of his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross".

James Meehan: All right. So with that, what we're gonna do is explore the context because one of the things that we think is so important as followers of Jesus is to remember that when it comes to reading the Bible, Jesus is king and context is everything.

Kaitlyn Caffrey: Yeah.

James Meehan: The best way to understand what a passage of scripture means is to look at all of the words that come before it and after it. Discover the context that surrounds it and goes underneath the surface that maybe we are aware of as people living 2,000 years after many of these things were written. And so to start with, who wrote Colassians?

Kaitlyn Caffrey: Mm-hmm.

James Meehan: Kaitlyn?

Kaitlyn Caffrey: Paul wrote Colassians.

James Meehan: And who is Paul?

Kaitlyn Caffrey: So Paul was a follower of Jesus. He like, started off as a Pharisee...

James Meehan: Come on.

Kaitlyn Caffrey: ...persecuting Christians. And then he had this radical encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus that just like, completely changed his life. And he started making disciples for Jesus. And he like specifically went on all these missionary journeys to reach the Gentiles. Like, not the Jewish people. That was his original context. Like, God sent him to minister to the Gentiles. So this was like one of the places that he ended up on one of his missionary journeys.

James Meehan: Right, and as Paul is going on these journeys, he's planting these churches, he's speaking truth into these new followers of Jesus, some of whom were Jewish, others who were not. And he's trying to help them understand who God is, what he's like, and what that means for them. And on those missionary journeys, after leaving those churches that he had started, he would write these letters. And so the letter to Colassians is literally that. It's a letter that Paul wrote to one of these churches to remind them of some of the basic fundamentals of Christianity. For some of the people, it would be a really great reminder. For others of them, it would be like the first time they'd ever hear these things. So who wrote it? The Apostle Paul. Who did he write it to? Well, the church in Colossae, this group of Christians who were trying to figure out, how do we follow Jesus, this Jewish Messiah who has invited all non-Jewish people to be a part of God's family? And then why did Paul write it? Well, it's what we've already talked аbout: to help these people understand who God is, what he's like, and what that means for them. So with that context in mind, we're gonna go back into this passage of scripture and just walk through it verse by verse so that we can better understand how to read the Bible wisely and allow the truth contained within these pages to transform us so that we are more and more like Jesus. So with that being said, Kaitlyn, will you read to us again where we started, which is chapter one, verse 15?

Yes. Verse 15 says, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation". A question that kind of raised for me was, what does it mean for Jesus to be the firstborn over all of creation? Like, I thought God existed forever, but now it's telling me that Jesus was born.

Come on.

So what does that mean?

Yeah, it's so good because, you know, one of the aspects of Christianity that is so foundational to what we believe, but can be really easy to miss, understand, or overlook, is the idea of God being a trinity. The word "trinity" literally comes from taking the word "tri" and "unity" and putting them together in the same way that the Christian God is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, three different persons that are all one being United together. And so what we believe as followers of Jesus is that the God of the Bible is God the Father, Son, and Spirit, who are all different and yet are United as one single being. And so when we read these words, that Jesus was the firstborn over all creation, that Jesus the Son is the firstborn over all creation, in our modern context, we think, "Oh, firstborn, it means the first person who was born". It's like the oldest kid in a family. The firstborn in my family is my older sister Allie.


Who's the firstborn in your family?

This kid.

Kaitlyn, the firstborn over all creation. Just kidding, not Kaitlyn. That's Jesus, okay? So coming back, coming back, coming back. So the Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. That's how we think of firstborn. The first one born. Just face value. But the thing that's important to remember is that in the ancient world, in the Jewish context, the firstborn wasn't just literally who was born first, it was a role and responsibility that came with being born first because the firstborn, the oldest son in a family back then, was the one who would get the largest portion of the inheritance from their father, the largest portion of responsibility. They would become the new leader of their family whenever their father would pass away. And so the idea that's being communicated here is that Jesus is the one who has the responsibility, the leadership, and the authority that comes from the Father. And because we believe that God is three in one, that all aspects of God, the Father, Son, and Spirit have existed for eternity together we know that in context, this isn't saying that Jesus was the first thing, person born in creation, but that Jesus has always existed. What's interesting is, actually, the next couple of verses will reinforce this idea; that Jesus being the firstborn isn't that he was born first, but that ultimately he has the role, responsibility, and authority that comes with being the firstborn as a role.

That's good.

Hopefully that makes sense. If you've got questions, make sure you put those in the comments down below because we want to continue to engage in this conversation with you because we know very well how challenging and difficult some of these concepts can be for us to wrap our minds around. Now, quickly, before we go to verse 16, one of my favorite parts of this is the fact that Paul tells us the Son is the image of the invisible God. And I think this is such a powerful reminder for us that even though God is infinite, he is eternal, he is invisible, we cannot see him face to face, God made himself known most clearly through Jesus. And so if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus because Jesus the Son is the image, the picture, the representation of our invisible God. So that's verse 15. Kaitlyn, verse 16.

Yeah. Verse 16: For in him, that is, Jesus, all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible; whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him and for him.

Mm, come on, somebody. So this past Wednesday at Switch, the message was all about God being our creator, and that as our creator, we've got to understand that he wants a relationship with his creation. That God created you and me to exist in relationship with him. And what Paul is doing is he's calling back to that idea, but he's positioning Jesus in that role of God the creator because again, God the Father, Son, and Spirit are all equal. They're all united, and yet they are all distinct. That is the trinity. So what Paul is doing is he's elevating Jesus to the role of divinity, to God. And he wants to make sure that his original audience understands that Jesus wasn't just some good moral teacher. He wasn't just some revolutionary rabbi who showed up to shake things up. He's God in human form.

Yeah, come on.

And Paul continues to say that everything, all things were created in him and through him and for him; everything on heaven and earth, visible and invisible. So again, what Paul is continuing to do is to help us remember that, no matter what, we can trust that God is in charge because he's the one who created everything.

Mm, that's good. Yeah, it reminds me of what John does in introduction of his gospel.

Mm, come on.

Like, essentially the same thing, like positioning Jesus as creator God.


He's like, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Through him, all things were made. Without him, nothing was made that has been made". And it's like, Paul's doing the exact same thing, positioning Jesus that way.

Well, and what's so good about this is even the amount of times the authors of the Bible reinforced this idea, that Jesus and God are one, is an indicator of how important that idea of understanding God as the creator and Jesus being equal with God the Father is to those early Christians. And if it was that important to them, it's probably something that should be important to us.

That's good. That's good. So the question that this, that I have about this verse is it talks about thrones and powers and rulers and authorities. Who are these people? What is trying to be communicated through listing out all of those different things?

Right. Well, I think the big idea comes right before that. For in him, all things were created: things in heaven and on earth. And so the big idea is that everything came through Jesus. Now, the more focused idea here that I think is important to recognize is that, throughout Paul's writings, there are times where, when he talks about powers, rulers, and authorities, he's talking about earthly powers, earthly rulers, earthly authorities. Like the Roman Empire, the emperor, the different governors who oversaw the different provinces of the churches were located at. And there are other times where the Apostle Paul is talking specifically about spiritual powers, these forces of darkness that are opposed to the things of God. It's in Ephesians 6. The Apostle Paul tells us that we are not in a struggle against flesh and blood, against human beings, but we are in a war with the powers and principalities of this dark world. And so what Paul is doing here is he's showing these early Christians that, hey, everything. Even the forces that are opposed to God are still underneath his authority because he created them to.

Yup, yup. I think what's cool and something that you'll notice as we work through different passages of scripture, it's so helpful to bring in other passages from throughout the entire biblical story that lend to the context.

Come on.

And that like, that practice of grabbing other passages to help us explain this one is called cross-referencing.

It's good. I didn't even know what that was called.

It's something that has like, been really helpful for me as I've studied the Bible. So just throwing that one in there.

That's good. Cross-referencing. Love that.

Cool, so next verse is verse 17. I'm gonna read 17 and 18.

Yeah, that's great.

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he's the head of the body, the church; he's the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy".

Right, so verse 17, he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. That's just building off of what we talked about for verse 16. Then in verse 18, there's two things that get introduced that I want to draw our attention to. The first is that first statement in verse 18: that Jesus is the head of the body, the church.


Oftentimes the Apostle Paul would talk about the church, the family of God, the gathering of believers as a body with Jesus as our head. And the purpose of that illustration is to show that when we enter into a relationship with Jesus, we become united to his body. That I am now an elbow in the body of Christ...

Come on.

...and Kaitlyn might be a bicep. I dunno, she's something...

That works for me. the body of Christ.

Every single one of us have a role that we play. And it is only together, in union with one another, submitted, being led by Jesus, that we're able to fulfill our purpose. Because ultimately, I might be an elbow, she might be a bicep, but Jesus is the head. He's the one that's in charge. That's the first idea here. The second thing is that idea of the firstborn. It's coming back here, but here, I think, it's also important to acknowledge that this one is a little bit different contextually than the first one.


Because what Paul says is that Jesus is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that everything he might have the supremacy. So what's interesting, all right, we talked about how the idea of firstborn doesn't just refer to who comes first in order, it also refers to those that come first in authority and responsibility. Now, with this specific part, Paul is using both of those meanings here because, actually, Jesus was the first one to truly conquer death...

Come on.

...hell in the grave. And because he is the firstborn and we are a part of his family, that authority and responsibility that he took on death and won, the invitation to eternal life has now been extended to all of us. Because remember, he's the head, we're the body we are in Christ. We are a part of everything that he does. And so every victory he achieves is passed on to us as his followers...

That's good. that in everything he might have the supremacy because he is the creator who has been here from the beginning. He is the one who has all the authority of God the Father, all the power of God the Spirit because Jesus, God the Son, is one with God.

Yeah. That's good. So in this context, does supremacy just mean authority?

I think that's a way to understand it. It also means other things. You know, a word that gets thrown a lot in Christian circles is sovereignty. And that comes from the idea of a sovereign. What is a sovereign? It's a ruler. A king or a queen as the sovereign of their nation, meaning they are the one that is in charge of their nation. We are familiar with the concept of Supreme, this clothing brand. The word "supremacy" comes from Supreme. And the idea is that if something is supreme, it's the first, it's the best. Everything else is beneath it. And so understanding the supremacy of Jesus that he has is that he is the first. He's the best. He has all authority over everything as the true sovereign of the universe.

Yep. And so in that first reference to Jesus being the firstborn, it says he's firstborn over all of creation. And in that second reference, it said he's firstborn from among the dead or, in other words, firstborn over new creation.

Ooh, come on.

So there's like no part of creation that Jesus does not have that delineated role of being the firstborn, of having the responsibility, and the authority, and the supremacy over creation originally and forever and over new creation forever.

And now at this point, some of you are like, "Okay, a lot of big words have just been thrown out and you lost me". That is totally okay. Both of us in our journey of learning how to study the Bible and understand these things have found ourselves in that exact same situation. The cool thing about this being on YouTube is you can actually pause and rewind a few minutes, and then push play and go forward and hear it again. And even if you still don't understand it the second time or the third time, know that that's okay. As we are going on this journey of following Jesus, there's no expectation that we have all the answers on day one. In the same way that you did not start with calculus in your journey of learning math, right? You probably started with the very basics of counting your fingers. And for some of us, that's where we are on our spiritual journey.

Yeah, that's good.

For others of us, we're in the phase of geometry, or maybe we're on Algebra 3, or we're beginning to explore the math involved in physics. All of us are at a different place in this journey and there's nothing wrong with that. In the same way that I might be an elbow and you might be a shoulder and you might be a thigh, whatever, we all have a role that we play. We all come to this journey from different places. And God is absolutely okay with all of that because he understands it. He wants to continue to help us learn more and more about him.

Yeah. And ask the Holy Spirit to help you. I think one of my favorite things about God is that he makes himself known to us.


Like we talked about God being creator and wanting a relationship with his creation. And that is evidence in the way that he has like, continually revealed himself to us throughout all of history through the way he moves closer and closer to us throughout the biblical story, to the point of literally giving us his Holy Spirit to live inside of us. So like, when you're going through passages of scripture and it's like, you're getting to that point where I don't really know what this means, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand 'cause he wants to.


Yeah. So, okay. I'm gonna read the last two verses in the section, 19 and 20. And it says, "For God was pleased to have all of his fullness dwell in him, and through him", that being Jesus, "reconcile to himself, all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his shed blood on the cross".

God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. Again, what Paul is doing is showing that Jesus is not an ordinary person. Jesus is fully God and fully man. The fullness of God lived in Jesus as he walked on this earth as an ordinary person, who was filled by the power of an extraordinary God. Then Paul says that, through him, it was to reconcile to himself all things. That word "reconcile" is a word that the actual definition I found on Google was to restore friendly relations between. So what it is is it's putting a broken relationship back together. That's what reconciliation is all about. And who is it that God wanted to reconcile to himself?


Well, it tells us all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And what's important to note here is it's not just all people, it is all things. And you mentioned earlier this idea of new creation. The biblical story tells us that God created everything, the heavens and the earth, and it was very good. And then in Genesis 3, we're introduced to the fall, where human beings, these people created by God to serve as his representatives and partners to the rest of creation, sinned; we rebelled against God. And in that moment, sin didn't just infect us, it corrupted all of creation. And so through Jesus, what God is doing is making it possible for all people and all things to be reunited with him. That's why the end of the Bible is this promise that when Jesus returns, he's going to make all things new; that heaven and earth will be remade as we are perfectly united to our heavenly father. And the way that this happens is through the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross. The kind of pivot point in history is the moment when Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, allowed himself to die on the cross for your sins and for mine. He who is one with God most high came low and allowed himself to be killed the same way that a slave, a revolutionary, or a terrorist would be killed. That's the goodness of God; that he would go to whatever length it took to reconcile, to restore the broken relationship between him and humanity.

Yeah. So everything was made by God and made for God and has been reconciled back to God through Jesus.

Come on.

And so something that we want to make sure that we do every time we do an episode of this, every time we look at a passage of scripture, is recognize that the Bible is not just meant to inform us, it's meant to transform us. So when we read through passages like this, the like, questions that I start asking myself are, "Okay, what does this mean for me today? What is God asking me to do with this? What does he want to do in me through these words that might transform me to look more like Jesus"?

Come on.

So as you're reading this, James, like, what are some of the things that are sticking out to you as applicable to life today?

Yeah, I mean, the thing that I always come back to with this passage is that verse 15. It's the Son is the image of the invisible God. Meaning that when I want to know what God is like, or what God would think, or what God would say, my starting place is always Jesus. I always go back to who is God revealed in Jesus? Now, the beautiful thing is that the entire Bible points to Jesus. The entire Bible brings us closer to Jesus. But specifically, we have the four gospel accounts written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that tell the story of Jesus's birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. And so more often than not, I go to the gospels and I allow those writings from these early disciples, some of whom were eyewitnesses of Jesus, to remind me that this is what Jesus is like. And ultimately, this is what God is like. And that starting place is always so helpful for me because again, we live in a world that's crazy, that's complicated. There are things that we deal with that are not the same things that the earliest Christians dealt with.


And so there are things that are written in the scriptures that, while powerful and relevant and applicable to our lives, aren't as clear of a connection as, you know, things like, how do you deal with the iPhone. Right? How do you deal with buying a new house? That's something that my wife and I just had to navigate. And so there's challenges and questions that come up in our daily lives that aren't always clearly addressed in scripture, but the more I come back to Jesus, the more I see the way that his life and his teachings have an impact on every question I ever ask.

Yeah, that's good. Yeah, one of the things for me is it comes out of that verse 17. It says, "He's before all things, and in him all things hold together".

So good.

I love that. And I am just like trying to ground myself in this idea that I exist for God. And so when I have questions about my purpose and making a difference, I'm reminded that like, chief among those purposes is I exist for God. And I can remind myself that he made everything and rest in the fact that he's the one who holds it all together.

That's so good.

And that leads me to a place of surrender. And like that place of like, I don't actually have to try to hold all of the pieces so tightly because Jesus is holding it all together.

It's fantastic.

So that's like, that's a thing that leads me into a constant posture of surrender. And am I grounded in the fact that I exist for God?

Yeah, one more kind of implication I wanna draw out from this passage. Coming back to verse 18, where we're told that Jesus is the head of the body, the church. And I think the thing that's really challenging about this is that everyone who is a follower of Jesus is a part of the same body.


And, you know, we live in a world where a lot of people have very different opinions about very different things that are oftentimes really important things. And so the thing that I always want to remember is that me, as a right elbow, being angry at those Christians who have different opinions about certain things that are the left elbow is just as unhelpful as my literal right elbow trying to get into a fight with my literal left elbow.


Now, this doesn't mean that we don't talk about hard things. It doesn't mean that we don't try to come together and come to the best solution possible. It just means that if I allow myself, as a follower of Jesus, to become more fixated on the things I don't like about those other people that are followers of Jesus, then I'm missing the point. Because at the end of the day, my goal is not to try to change other people, it's to follow Jesus faithfully and trust that Jesus is working on them in the same way that he's working on me. Because there's probably so many things that I say or think or do that maybe I think are okay, but other people would be able to clearly point out, "Hey, James, here's the things that you probably need to change if you really want to represent Jesus well to the rest of the world". And I always want to be open to that because at the end of the day, I'm not the head of the body, Jesus is.

Come on.

And there are other parts of the body that want to form me and shape me and change me to be able to fulfill my role as a follower of Christ to the best of my own ability. And so those are some of the implications that we've drawn out of this passage of scripture. My question is, what is it that sticks out to you?


Because as you're hearing us process and think what you're hearing is what God is showing us. But what we believe is that there's something that God is showing you. And so maybe even take some time right now to comment down below what it is that God wants to reveal to you through this passage of scripture because this is a journey that all of us are going on together to become more like Jesus for the sake of others. Now, we hope that this has been helpful for you as you're trying to navigate the difficult questions about faith, following Jesus, and the Bible. If there's other things that you want us to talk about in the future, let us know. You can just let us know by commenting down below. But just know that what we're gonna continue to do is create a space for us to learn together how to study the Bible wisely. Now, before we close, I know that you've got a couple of verses that actually come right before everything we just read that are just a beautiful tease of the message that's coming up this Wednesday night about God being our redeemer. So Kaitlyn, will you read that?


And then we'll sign off.

Yup. All right, here we go. Verse 13 of Colossians 1 says, "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son that he loves, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins". So get ready.

'Cause this Wednesday night, the message is all about what it means for God to be our redeemer. Hopefully we'll see you there. And like I said, if you've got any questions or there's ways that we can be praying for you, comment down below.

Yep, see you, guys.

See y'all.
Are you Human?:*