Have you ever ordered food at a restaurant, enjoyed your meal, and then said, “Oh, where is my wallet?” I have. Gratefully my wallet was in my car, but not before the obligatory joke, “I guess you’re going to have to do the dishes” was spoken. The problem is that even though I could probably do enough work to pay off a meal, that is not an option. It is not a form of payment accepted by restaurants.
In Colossians 1:15-23 Paul writes the “Christ Hymn.” This passage was a hymn about the nature of Christ that was either recited or sung in the early church. This method of teaching was critical in an era where the individual believers did not have copies of Scripture. These things were not true because they were repeated, but were repeated because they were true.
This passage should challenge each of us to ask ourselves, “What do I believe? Why do I believe that? What do I do today because of that belief?” We must understand the position of Christ to understand our position in Christ. The Bible teaches many great truths about the life of a Christ follower. We are the light of the world…the salt of the earth…children of God…more than conquerors. These are true because of who Christ is, therefore, they are true of who we are in Christ.
This passage in the usage of the word firstborn and the word preeminent teach the great truth that Jesus is Creator. He is before all things and all things were created by him and through him. Jesus is the Sustainer because all things hold together in him. Jesus is the Lord because everything is under him. He is the “head” of the Church. He is both in control of the church and he is the source of the Church. Jesus is God because the fullness of God rested in him. It was pleased to do so because it is appropriate to do so.
We learn through these great truths about Christ that today everything is from Him, by Him, under Him, for Him, and through Him. Everything in life is seen differently when it is seen in the light of who Christ is. We must know who Christ is to understand who we are in Christ, but we must also learn who we are without Christ to understand who we are in Christ.
I, without Christ, am alienated, hostile, and evil.
I, in Christ, am holy, blameless, and above reproach.
You might think these two statements go too far, but they go just far enough. You, in and of yourself, are evil. I know it is harsh, but it is true. Acts that are good do not smooth the edges of those that are selfish, wrong, and hateful in your life. You might also say, I am a follower of Christ and I know I am to blame for much and am very reproachable. Remember, you have a righteousness not your own. This is true of you, who are in Christ, because (and only because) it is true of Christ.
Verse 20 speaks to why this is true in Christ. “through him (Jesus) to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, made peace by the blood of the cross.” Jesus is the reconciler. The word reconciler is an interesting term. Reconcilers are typically third party people who simply ensure the books match up to the account. Jesus, however, is the bank the account is owed to, the reconciler of the account, and you are the one whose account “over drawn.” This term reconciler reminds us that he reconciles us to himself in himself…through the blood of the cross. In this great transaction of salvation remember that Jesus (when he took on flesh and became obedient to death on a cross) became the currency to make your wrong account right.
Let’s go back to the restaurant. Imagine Jesus is the restaurant owner. He is the waiter and the host. He serves. He cooks. He prepares all that is needed. But in the end you do not have your wallet. It’s actually worse, you have your wallet; the problem is that you do not have any money. You have no way to pay the bill.
Jesus, in being our reconciler, did not just step up and pay the bill. He became the payment for the bill. Instead of requiring you do the dishes for your bill. Jesus, himself took up the apron and the dishrag and became the very currency of your salvation. His blood is literally the work, the payment, and the price for your sin and unrighteousness.
He calls out to us, in spite of knowing the condition of our wallets, in spite of knowing our absolutely inability to pay, and calls out to us, “Open the door to me and let me come in. Dine with me and I with you.” I am the Bread of Life. Eat. And you will never hunger again.
Praise the Lord, he did the dishes!