Teaching Series
Jesus Manifesto
Sunday—Getting Clear About Christ

Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting Clear About Christ
Preacher: Jenniffer Ogden
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Colossians 1:15-23 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: I have a good friend, Dr. Mark Johnson, who has intentionally held back on using the word “awesome” about things that are amazing. He decided some time ago that he would keep that word for God only. Only God is awesome. When he first explained this to me, I was a bit skeptical, but after some reflection the reality of his point of view sunk into my heart and mind. After all, we are talking about God! We are not talking about our favorite pet—though we may sometimes treat God like that. We are not talking about a great experience—though we often connect to God through experiences. We are calling on the one and only God. Only He is worthy to be called awesome. For only He can generate the true power of awe in our lives. So how would you describe God? The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit?

At the time Paul was writing Colossians there had been a deep resurgence in the adoration of Zeus. Zeus was the Greek god who was considered all-powerful above every person. Paul does not mention Zeus here. He simply ignores him and focuses on the overwhelming reality of the true God—the one and only God who is in three persons—Father, Son, and Spirit. In fact, they exist in community, constantly lifting each other up and modeling what we should be as humans. The Gospel of John records this conversation between Philip and Jesus: 

Jesus answered, “Philip, I have been with you for a long time. So you should know me. Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father too. So why do you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9, ESV)

When we see Jesus we see the Father. Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit who points us to the Father and the Father points us back to Jesus. This reality alone inspired Paul to pen the passage we read today—a passage that declares the full supremacy and absolute sufficiency of Jesus. For He is awesome

    He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15)

Perhaps there is more to be discovered in Jesus. All., than we could imagine. Which seems ridiculous. I say “ridiculous” as you would be surprised to find out how many people become upset if you lift up the name of Jesus . . . 

Recalibrate: What is “ridiculous” in this passage? Are Paul’s pronouncements too far-fetched? What have you heard about Jesus that seems outrageous?  

Respond: Offer a prayer of thanks for the revelation of Jesus in your life 

Research: Read the story in John 14

Remember: “Through His power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen” (Colossians 1:16, ICB). 

Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.

Colossians 1:16 tells us, “Through His power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen.” Read This Is For You, with your little one. What can you see? Ask your child What can they see? Encourage yourself and your child to point out all that is good.

Our Words to Remember for this week are, “Through His power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen.” Look around your home inside and out and name what God has made. Somethings may have “Made in China” on the label but where was China made? All things were made through His power. How awesome is God that He has made something as big as the sky and as small as a bug and as wonderful as you!

I have a brother with whom I shared a room most of the time we were growing up. It’s tough sharing a space with another human, especially one who has similar tastes and preferences to yours. Sometimes things that were explicitly labeled as mine, or were purchased for me, or by me, would suddenly go missing. And more often than not, the rat-thief (too strong?) turned out to be my little brother. It got so bad at one point that we decided to make a physical line dividing the room in half. We put a strip of masking tape that stretched from the doorway, between our beds, along the midway point of our shared dresser, and even over the window (because no way we were sharing the view from our side of the glass!) and up to the ceiling. Now, there was no way for my belongings to become his and that would be that. My stuff was just too precious and I couldn’t afford to lose it.

In Colossians 1:15, Paul is talking about something similar to the people of Colossae. They had been told by these “false disciples” that the treasures of life could be obtained by marking off certain places of their lives in order to be saved. If they ate right, didn’t drink alcohol, and went to church at the right place at the right time, no one would be able to steal their salvation. And so people followed, believing they would be saved. 

The problem was . . . faith is invisible. Just like God.

The good news is, so is their treasure! Paul is saying that no one can take away your salvation if you are in a relationship with the invisible God (not even pesky brothers)!

What’s your relationship with Jesus like? Is it real? Or just invisible? What would it take to move it from invisible to real?

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). Jesus once said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). The traits which have not been seen in God are revealed through Jesus. The initial plan and creation of humanity are revealed in Jesus. Everything that was/is meant to be is revealed in Jesus. He came to reveal God’s love for the fallen race. He came to convict the fallen of how worthy the Father is of their trust.

Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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