Topical Scripture: Colossians 1:15-17
This morning we’re going to try a strange experiment. While sitting in your chair, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles. Now, while doing this, draw the number “6” in the air with your right hand. Could you do it? Neither could I. I have no idea why.
The older I get, the less I understand.
Scientists don’t really know why gravity exists, how plate tectonics work, or how animals migrate so successfully. The cosmos bewilders me. But it’s no challenge for its Creator.
This Advent season, we’re going to see what we can learn about the Christ of Christmas. Today we’ll learn about his power and why that omnipotence is so relevant to us today.
Where do you most need the power of God in your life? Let’s learn how to experience such omnipotence today.
The power of creation
Our text comprises one of the most exhaustively studied paragraphs in all the New Testament. One commentary in my library (O’Brien, Word) devotes seventy-one pages to it. This is a single sentence in the Greek, probably one of the earliest hymns in Christian worship.
It begins with this phrase as the title of all that follows: Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (v. 15a). These six words capture the very essence of the Christian faith. This truth claim changed the world. This is the heart of our hope today. Why?
The Bible teaches that “no one has ever seen God” (John 1:18). The Lord told Moses, “man shall not see me and live” (Exodus 33:20).
You cannot look at the sun for more than a second or two without significant damage to your eyes. I’ve read that you’d have to get as far away as Neptune or Pluto before you could stare at it for as long as you like. So it is with the holy God of the universe. Sinners cannot be close enough to him to see his face, or they must perish.
But Jesus is his “image” (icon in the Greek), the exact representation or “mirror image” of God.
St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle is famous as the burial place of Henry VIII as well as the location where Prince Harry and Princess Meghan were married. I have toured it two or three times and am always amazed at its remarkably beautiful ceiling. But staring at this exquisite architectural masterpiece is difficult, so a mirror has been placed on the ground. We can look down to see up.
That’s the idea here—Jesus came down to earth so we could see the God who lives in heaven. However, the Greek word also shares in the nature of that which is reflected. A mirror is not a person, though it reflects one. But Jesus is God, not just his reflection. He is “God made visible.”
What else do we learn about the Christ of Christmas?
He is “the firstborn of all creation,” not meaning that he was born first but that he rules over all creation as the firstborn rules the family.
We next learn: “By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (v. 16). He was the creative agent of all creation.
What’s more, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (v. 17). He rules all that is and holds together all that is.
Our planet is spinning on its axis at 1040 miles per hour. The earth is spinning around the sun at 66,600 mph. Our solar system is moving around the Milky Way galaxy at a rate of 558,000 mph. And the Milky Way is moving through the universe at 660,000 mph. I get dizzy just being on one of those spinning rides at Disneyland. Jesus is holding our entire universe together, right now.
The power of Christmas
And then came the moment when the God who made our universe entered our tiny planet. He folded down all that omnipotence to become a fetus, the tiniest human life form, in the womb of a Galilean teenage girl. He demonstrated his inestimable power not just in making the universe but in making himself a baby.
Then the baby grew up. The Christ of Christmas would walk on water and calm stormy seas. He would open blind eyes and heal leprous bodies and raise dead corpses. He would feed five thousand families and cast out demons and defeat death at Easter.
Now, all the power of the Christ of Christmas is available to those who trust him fully. Here’s what that power means to your life, practically.
First, you have power over temptation: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). There is no sin you must commit, because the Christ of Christmas lives in power in you.
Second, you can overcome Satan: “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14). The power which defeated Satan at the grave will defeat him again in your life.
Third, you have power to take the gospel to the entire world: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The power to win the world to Christ lives in you.
Fourth, you have the power to pray effectively: “We do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
Fifth, you have power to see the sick healed: “The prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:15). God will answer your prayer and give the sick person what you ask or something even better.
In short, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). At Christmas, the Mighty God proved that he could live in human flesh. He still can.
How to experience the power of Christmas
But someone is asking: if that’s true, why don’t I defeat temptation more easily? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers as powerfully as he answered Jesus’ prayers? How do we experience the Mighty God each day? By following the example of his Son, our Lord.
Let me offer some lessons I’ve learned the hard way.
One: Go to God first. We must connect to God’s power to experience it. That’s why Jesus started the day with his Father: “rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). He sought God’s power first, before he would need it.
I often don’t. Most of my problems come when I try to prepare the message or solve the problem in my power. When I fail, I then turn to him. But the car is already in the ditch, and I wonder why I don’t have the victory of God.
You will have the power of Christmas when you trust the Christ of Christmas.
Two: Stay close to God all day. Jesus prayed all night before choosing his disciples (Luke 6:12–13). He prayed before going to the cross. He prayed on the cross. He prays now for us. He stayed connected to the power of God.
Often I don’t. I’ll pray at the beginning of the day, then go hours without reconnecting with my Lord. Meanwhile the battery runs down, the car runs out of gas, and I’m on my own again. I’ve learned to take time all through the day to stop for a few moments of Scripture, prayer, and worship. As Moody said, “I’m a leaky bucket, and must be refilled often.”
You will have the power of Christmas when you stay close to the Christ of Christmas.
Three: Focus on the purpose of God. God give his power as it accomplishes his purpose. We will receive power, if we will be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). The Creator of the universe is no genie in a bottle, waiting to dispense blessings. God is up to one thing on earth: building his Kingdom, because that is best for us all. The most loving thing he can do for us is to make it possible for us to live in his Kingdom.
This is my third problem. I want God to help me succeed, to empower me to teach this message, to lead this church, to fulfill my agenda and ambitions. But he only empowers me when I am dedicated to his purpose. He heals us if such extends his Kingdom. He empowers this message if it is advancing his Lordship and glory. He empowers this church if we will take Christ to our city.
You will have the power of Christmas when you join the purpose of Christmas.
What does Christmas teach us about Christ? We learn that the One who is “the image of the invisible God,” who made and sustains the entire universe, has the power to enter our small planet as a tiny baby.
Now his followers have his power to defeat temptation, overcome Satan, take the gospel to the world, pray effectively, and see the sick healed. If we will go to God first, stay close to him through the day, and join him in taking Christ to our culture, he will empower us and use us for his glory and our good.
Where is such power most relevant to you today?