Who is Jesus? As you can see, you can find a wide variety of answers to that question. That clip that we just watched was taken in Baltimore, USA, but I’m sure if you asked the same question in Red Deer, you’d get the same variety of responses.

We talked last week a little bit about counterfeits and how tragic it is when people get duped – not just out of their hard-earned money – but in matters of eternal consequences. And judging by the wide variety of responses in this video, it’s clear that many people are getting duped about Jesus Christ. They’ve been deceived about who He really is.

And that’s not just in the secular world. If you were to ask that same question – “Who is Jesus” to people who have gone to church for years, I fear there would be many people who could not give a full and accurate answer of who Jesus is and what He’s done.

And this was the exact problem that the church in Colossae was facing in 60 AD. There were people in the church who were being confused and deceived about who Jesus Christ is. False teachers were spreading counterfeit beliefs about Jesus. And so that’s one of the main reasons that Paul writes this letter (what we call the book of Colossians) to the church in Colossae. To address this issue, Paul’s gives them – what I’ve called Christianity in a Nutshell – and He spells out for them in no uncertain terms the truth about Jesus Christ.

And so that’s exactly what we want to look at today, because quite frankly, I don’t want to get duped. I don’t know about you, but I want to know the truth – especially when my eternal future is on the line. I want to know the truth. What does the Bible say? Who is Jesus Christ? So that’s what we’re going to look at this morning.

We want to pick up today where we left off last Sunday – Colossians chapter 1, today starting at verse 15.

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. 

      He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,

 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. 

   He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— 

   such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. 

      Everything was created through him and for him. 

 17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

Colossians 1:15-17

So here’s the first fact that Paul establishes about Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ was not just a man – He was God.

Now most people today have no problem accepting the fact that Jesus existed. There is enough historical evidence around that if you do your research, you would likely conclude that, Yes, somewhere around 30 AD there was a man named Jesus who lived in Israel. But what most people refuse to accept is that that man, Jesus, was God. They’ll say He was a good man, he was a great teacher, he was a prophet of God. But they don’t accept that Jesus was God. And yet that’s exactly what Paul is clearly stating in these verses. Look at…

verse 15:

 He existed before anything was created…

Clearly, Jesus was not created. He existed before anything was created.

verse 16

through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth….

So not only did Jesus already exist before creation, everything was created through Him.

verse 17

He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together…

Paul is not describing ‘a good man’. Paul is not describing ‘a great teacher’. And Paul is not describing ‘a prophet of God’. Paul is describing someone who could be nothing less than God.

And these verses in Colossians sound very similar to the first few verses in the Gospel of John. Let me read those for you. John 1:1.

In the beginning the Word already existed. 

      The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 

 3 God created everything through him, 

      and nothing was created except through him. 

 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,

      and his life brought light to everyone.

Skip down to verse 14

 14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John 1:1-4, 14

So who is Jesus? It seems very clear from the Scriptures that Jesus Christ was no ordinary man. He was not just a good person, not just a great teacher, and not just a prophet of God. But Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God.

And this is a foundational truth of Christianity. Because an ordinary man could not have died in our place. (He would have been paying for His own sins, not ours.) Only God could die in our place.

When you read about the Old Testament sacrifices, you’ll notice that the animals that they would sacrifice had to be without defect. Look at Leviticus 22:21-22.

“If you present a peace offering to the LORD from the herd or the flock, whether it is to fulfill a vow or is a voluntary offering, you must offer a perfect animal. It may have no defect of any kind. 22 You must not offer an animal that is blind, crippled, or injured, or that has a wart, a skin sore, or scabs. Such animals must never be offered on the altar as special gifts to the LORD.

Leviticus 22:21-22

Only perfect animals could be offered as sacrifices to the Lord. And that same principle applies to the sacrifice for our sins. Only a perfect, sinless person could be the sacrifice for our sins. And Jesus Christ is the only qualified person for that. The Bible tell us that all of mankind have sinned. Romans 3:23 states:

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Romans 3:23

But not Jesus. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says…

 “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”

1 Peter 1:18-19

If Jesus was just another ordinary man, he would have been born with sin – just like you and me. He would have been sinful – not sinless – and there would have been no way He could have paid the price for our sins. But praise God that Jesus was not just another ordinary man – Jesus Christ is God. And He did pay the penalty for our sins so that we could have eternal life.

Paul goes on to say in verse 18…

 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 

 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

 21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. 

Colossians 1:18-22

That word ‘reconciled’ – it means brought back together again. That’s what Jesus did when He died on the cross – He brought you and God back together again.

You see, before, you were enemies – your sin kept you separated from Him. God’s holiness and his justice demanded that you be separated from Him forever. God would not be just if He didn’t punish sin in that way. And according to Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death”. That’s not just physical death – that’s eternal separation from God.

But, while God’s holiness and justice demanded that you pay the price for your sins and be separated from Him forever, God’s love and compassion demanded that you be forgiven and be reconciled to God. You see, God loved you so much that He couldn’t bear the thought of being separated from you forever. After all, He created you. He formed you in your mother’s womb. He gave you your unique personality, your talents, and your abilities. You are his special creation and He loves you like crazy. And although you’ve sinned and run away from God, He wants nothing more than to forgive you and begin a new relationship with you. But He couldn’t just ignore your sin either. The penalty had to be paid.

And so the only way for both God’s justice and his love to be satisfied, was for Jesus, God’s Son, to come to earth as a man, and to die on the cross – to pay the price for your sin so that you could be forgiven and be reconciled to God. That’s a crazy love, isn’t it?

And look at the result. Paul says in the last part of verse 22:

As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

Colossians 1:22

Can you imagine! When you accept God’s forgiveness, He wipes the slate absolutely clean. It’s as if you are perfect. Like you never, ever sinned. You are holy and blameless before Him.

Sometimes as Christians, when we blow it, when we mess up and sin, we think, “Man, I am such a loser. God, why do you even put up with me?” But the thing is, when we have been forgiven, God doesn’t see it that way at all. God sees you just as He created you to be – sinless. Faultless. Perfect. Isn’t that incredible?!

Now of course, that’s not a license to sin – to do whatever we want, thinking that God will be oblivious to it all. That’s not the case. God knows your heart. He knows when you’re sincere and when you’re just trying to get away with stuff. But if you’re truly sincere, the Bible tells us….

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9

He wipes the slate clean and He sees us just as clean and as sinless as Jesus. THAT is incredible! And Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, ends this section of his letter basically by saying “And don’t you forget it!”

“But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.”

Colossians 1:23

So I too, want to encourage you this morning – believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He died in your place so that your sins can be forgiven and you can be reconciled with God. If you believe and accept God’s free gift of Salvation, your sins will be completely wiped out and in God’s eyes, you will be perfect and without fault. This is the good news!

And so depending on where you are in your journey with God this morning, you can apply all kinds of  lessons from this passage in a lot of different ways.

If you’ve never made the decision to accept the forgiveness that Jesus has made available to you, why don’t you do that today? There is no reason to put it off any longer. God is waiting and ready to wipe your slate clean and give you a fresh start.

Or maybe you have accepted Christ’s forgiveness sometime in the past, but you know that in recent days or weeks or months or even years, you’ve turned your back on God. You’ve gone your own way and done your own thing. But you know, God hasn’t changed how He feels about you. He still loves you like crazy. He won’t give up on you. For you too, He is waiting and ready to wipe your slate clean and give you a fresh start.

For others, perhaps the lesson for you in this passage is a little different. One of the things that I thought of as I was preparing this message is, how much do I trust really God?

Sometime we doubt the goodness of God. We doubt if God really has the best in store for us. Just like Adam and Eve thought that God was keeping good things from them when He told them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – sometimes we think we know best and we don’t want to do things God’s way.

But if God loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to earth as man – that the Almighty God would give up the glories of heaven and be confined to a human body – for the Creator of the world to be a helpless baby – to be hungry – to feel pain – and then to experience the horrible death on the cross and be raised to life again – all because He loved us and wanted to be with us. Can I not trust a God who loves me so?

If God would go through all that, if God loves me that much – can I not trust Him in every area of my life? Absolutely. Absolutely.

We began today with the question: Who is Jesus? And I hope that the Scriptures that we’ve looked at today have helped you answer that question. But its quite possible that in answering that question, you’ve come up with several more.

Perhaps questions like: If Jesus is God – what does that mean for me? How should I respond to that? How does that impact my life? And I would encourage you, think about and pray about those questions this week – and then come back next week to see what Paul has to say about it in the next chapter.