Firstborn over Everything and the Church
Christ our Saviour is born today! This is the day that many Christians around the world have chosen to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many Christians and even non-Christians who would hardly ever step foot into a church will make the effort to attend a church’s Christmas service. In a typical Christmas service, the message is generally centred around the peace, hope, or joy that we can have in Christ. However, today in our reading, let us focus on the glorious person and work of Christ himself.
He is the image of the invisible God. This is Paul’s expression of Christ being the “Word of God” as John described him in John 1:1. The Son is the “exact representation of [God’s] being” (Heb 1:3). Moreover, the Son is the firstborn over all creation. Jehovah Witnesses often use this verse to support their argument that the Son of God is the very first “god” to be created by God, which then the Son goes on to create everything else. That is patently untrue as the very next verse mentions that this Son created all things, and not “all things except himself”. “Firstborn” refers to his status over all of creation – he has pre-eminence and supremacy for all creation. Why? Because he is the one who created all things! In fact, all things have been created through him, for him and in him, it all holds together.
Not only that, he is also the head over the church and firstborn from among the dead. “From among the dead” is a strange phrase. To help us understand that phrase, we have to remember that when Christ was raised from the dead, he ushered in the new creation that has been promised in the Old Testament – the new creation that arose from the dead. Thus, this means that Christ also has pre-eminence and supremacy over the new creation! Those of us who are in Christ, “the new creation has come” (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). Both of these points, taken together, show us that “in everything, [Christ] might have the supremacy.” (v18)
That is because God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Christ. That baby born in a manger that we are celebrating today, is God. However, this is not just any “god” that we see/read that mankind made up, but one who reconciles to himself all things, and he does that by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
That last point is ultimately why we celebrate Christmas. There have been plenty of martyrs throughout history that have died for noble causes, but none has garnered such praise or worship like Christ. None has reconciled us back to God, only Christ. We don’t celebrate Christmas because a baby boy was born 2000 years ago. We celebrate Christmas because that baby boy is God incarnate, supreme over all things, in heaven and on earth, and he has come to reconcile us back to God through his death and resurrection.
“This is the Gospel that we have heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven”. This is the Gospel that has been celebrated by millions throughout history, and this is the Gospel that we celebrate on Christmas. Hallelujah and all glory to God indeed!