Our Gospel readings this month cover most of the first half of Paul’s short letter to the church at Colossae. This includes a key passage (Ch 1:15–20) believed to be a quotation from a hymn used in worship. Certainly a poetic work in the broadest sense, it speaks of Christ in relation to creation, before focusing on the resurrected Christ and what he has done.
As Robert Warren puts it: “If you have any questions about what Jesus is, this passage ought to clear it up. These six verses … paint a picture of Jesus that is higher and loftier than most of us ever consider, they make claims that go beyond any easy understanding of Christ, and they challenge us to make a stand for Christ that goes beyond any easy decision.”
The church in Colossae – a small band of believers struggling to find their place as a new sect in the midst of a culture that was potentially dangerous for the young church – was facing a lot of confusion as to who and what Jesus is. “There were some people who were telling the Colossians that Jesus was not really God. Others were saying that Jesus had never really come to the earth in human form. Still others were saying that salvation came from something other than Jesus Christ: they believed that we could be saved by our works. All of these teachings are false and they lead to false beliefs and false practices. So Paul makes it very clear … exactly who Jesus is, because everything else in our faith follows.”