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Discovering Who Jesus Is

From the series Trusting Jesus No Matter What

What would you say to someone who wants to know who Jesus is or why He matters so much to you? In this message, Chip will help us give a good answer as he picks up in his series, Trusting Jesus No Matter What. Learn how understanding who Jesus really is, as described for us in the Bible, helps deepen the roots of our faith in Him.

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Message Transcript

You know, trusting Jesus when everything is great, it’s not too difficult. Trusting Jesus is difficult when circumstances or relationships are really, really hard and either you don’t know what to do or you know what? Trusting God looks like this but, boy, the implications or who you might disappoint or the cost is really high.

You know, I love a quote by Francis Chan I read recently. He said, “Our greatest fear should not be that we fail.” He said, “Our greatest fear should be that we might be successful at things that are a complete waste of time.”

In other words what he’s saying is it’s so easy to be successful or to cop out or not trust God in order to be, like, “Hey, I want this to happen,” only to realize that’s not very important. At the end of the day, walking with God, trusting Jesus means we have to have a clear, high, accurate picture of who He is.

And so, let me just ask you, right now, what relationship or circumstance is the biggest challenge in your life? Maybe you’re not ready to think about that too deeply, but right now, what is the biggest challenge that you’re facing?

And then the second question is: what is your best sense of what Jesus is saying, “This is what it looks like to trust Me in this relationship or in your finances or at work or stepping up and speaking the truth in love,” or to do what He has called you to do, to take the next step to minister to someone. I don’t know what it is, but I want you to really think about that.

And then the other thing I want you to ponder is: where is it possible that the enemy is casting doubt? Where is it maybe that you sort of sense that Jesus doesn’t have your best interest at heart? That He’s not going to come through. Or He’s not really good or He doesn’t have a good plan and you better hang on to this one and do it yourself.

See, those doubts, they begin to erode our faith. And so, that’s why it’s so important. And this is what this whole series is about. An unshakable faith is not about how much you have, it’s about a clear, crystal clear object of our faith, seeing Jesus for who He is.

And so, what I want to suggest is that as we go into the epistles and we are going to look at Colossians chapter 1, if there’s any way you can pull that out right now, either Bible or on your phone to follow along, it’ll really help.

But in Colossians chapter 1, we are going to get perhaps the absolute clearest picture of who Jesus is and what He has done.

Yes, the gospels were wonderful and fantastic and they have the stories and His heart, His compassion, and His miracles – awesome.

Now we are going to get thirty years later, the Apostle Paul, led by the Spirit of God is helping us see, he is going to write to a church to correct a problem, because what has happened is some false teachers have come and they are now mixing a little Judaism over here and a little mystic thinking over here and a little Eastern religion. And they didn’t get rid of Jesus, they just said He’s not God, He’s not all that important, and we have sort of the secret sauce. We know like no one else, we have this higher knowledge.

And so, it began to take people off into, are you ready for this? Spirituality. Does that sound familiar? I’m really, really spiritual but not Jesus-focused.

So, open your Bible if you’ve got it, but if not, just listen carefully as I read Colossians chapter 1. And my focus is verses 15 to 20, but let me give you a little bit of a running start, because it is so powerful. It talks about what God has done for all of us who are followers of Jesus.

Verse 13, “For He,” God, “delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.” And then verse 15 begins to describe, well, who is this Jesus? “And He,” Jesus, “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn from creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the Church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.”

And then there’s this great purpose clause. Why? “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness,” the fullness of deity, “to dwell in Him, and through Him,” Jesus, “to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Through Him I say whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

Now, that is a boatload of content and that is what we would call deep, rich, clear theology. And so, the apostle Paul is correcting what a group of people have begun to believe about Jesus. And before I dig in and ask kind of four very basic questions about His identity and what His goals are and what He has accomplished, kind of what we would in any kind of relationship, I just want to pause for a moment and give you why this is important.

You know, a lot of people have gone to Bible school or you might be where you have really studied things. But the problem is we often miss the connection between this truth about Jesus and how it actually applies to our life. I would say most Christians, you know, Orthodox followers of Jesus, they believe that or at least by “believe” they intellectually agree that what that says is true. But the Jesus that they trust or not trust is a bit different.

And here’s what I want you to get. We are going to find ourselves more and more in a world that challenges our faith. And not just in the arena of morals. It’s going to happen in relationships, it’s going to happen with: what do we believe about life in general? What matters, what doesn’t, what is true, who can you trust, who can’t you trust?

And so, the apostle Paul is writing to the Colossian church, but he’s going to help us understand, “This is who I am.” Right? I mean, I guess right now I could tell you off the top of my head of five people I completely trust, I mean, with my life.

Well, why? I’ve got history with them, they have literally made huge sacrifice for me, they have told me good things about me, they have told me hard, difficult things about me.

In other words, we trust people that are authentic, we trust people that we have a track record with, we trust people who what they say and what they do tells the same story and they come through for us. And we trust people who have the ability to help us.

And so, what we are going to get is the Jesus that comes through, that always tells the truth, that has all power. So, let’s look and find out: who is He actually? And then, I mean, it’s majestic, it’s powerful. And then we are going to talk about an invitation that this almighty God makes to ordinary people like you and me.

And so, where are you from, Jesus?

Answer: He’s the image of the invisible God. Answer: He’s the firstborn over all creation.

Now, for us, we get our word, that word “image,” we get the word “icon.” And in the early Roman world, there was a coin and the coins would have Caesar’s picture on it. And to get what he’s really saying here is if you took a piece of clay and you took that coin and you pressed it in and then you removed the coin, you would have the exact representation of Caesar in the clay.

And what Jesus is saying and what the apostle Paul, filled by the Holy Spirit is saying here in this passage, is that God is invisible but if you took the clay of humanity and you pressed the invisible God into it, it would be Jesus. All that there is of God is now in Jesus. He is the exact image. Now, not the external body, of course. But who He is.

And then He’s the firstborn of creation. Don’t get tripped up on that. I remember as a young Christian, I mean, I read this passage and I thought, Wait a second, I thought Jesus was God and I thought He was eternal and how did He get born? And this is a word that means first in rank. A good illustration in the Old Testament, David will call Solomon his firstborn. Well, I mean, Solomon was one of many sons but he wasn’t the first one born. But Solomon was the first in rank who followed David and later became the king.

And so, the truth is, Jesus is the physical revelation of the invisible God. Let that sink in. Jesus is the physical representation of the invisible God.

And here’s our response, are you ready? We can know Him personally. Is that awesome? You can actually know God personally because Jesus would say, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”

And so, the application for me is I want to talk with Him. I want to get to know Him.

The second question we might ask to discover who Jesus is is: So, what do you do?

Listen to this, “By Him all things were created.” Well, where? “Things in heaven and things on earth, things that are visible that we can see, things that are invisible.”

And then this very interesting, “Whether thrones or dominions or powers or authorities, all things were created by Him and through Him.”

And so, what he’s saying is Jesus has created all that there is, the things that we see, the things that we can’t. And, you know, I don’t know about you but, you know, Genesis chapter 1, “In the beginning God created…” right? Did you realize that Jesus was the instrumental means? You know, you have God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. They are in unison; they are one essence. But it says Jesus was the part of the Godhead that created, that all that there is was created by Him, but notice this, for Him.

See, the apostle Paul, led by the Spirit of God is helping us see there is no one in Jesus’ class. He’s the exact image of God, but more, He’s the Creator, He’s all-powerful. The text here says He existed before all things. Literally, in the Greek text, it’s literally He is before all things. Not He was. He just is before all things. And in Him He holds all things together.

At this very moment, the molecules, the atoms in all the galaxies, in the billions of galaxies, in the stars, down to microscopic things that you can’t see, Jesus, the power of the Son of God is holding all those things by the word of His power.

The truth: Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of everything. Response: We can trust Him completely. Think of that. Jesus created everything. At this moment, Jesus holds all things by the word of His power.

I want to take you back just for a moment before we get back in the text and I want to ask you: What is that challenge? What is that thing that, Lord, I just don’t know. You certainly don’t really expect me to do this or if I do this, you know, what about this and what about that and what will they think? And, you know, that’s a lot of money or if she responds badly or… Pause.

Faith is believing in the character of God and the promises of God to the point of acting.

Obedience is the evidence where you say, God, I trust You. I’m going to step out. God, I trust You. I’m going to put You first in this. God, I trust You. I’m going to have the hard conversation. God, I trust You. My priorities on money are going to get aligned the way I know that You want me to instead of how I have been living. I trust You.

And here’s the thing: You think the God that spoke everything into existence and holds it together right now, if He holds the whole earth, do you think He can handle your stuff?

Do you see what happens? See, that’s not some vague Jesus. That’s not Jesus who is just the loving Jesus. That’s not just the Jesus that if you, you know, read your Bible in the morning, give at least ten percent, and try to be a really nice person, He always does whatever you want Him to. This is the Creator, man, right? This is the Jesus that will take you through thick and thin.

This is the Jesus that you can say, “I’m trusting Him no matter what.” Why? Because of who He is, what He has done, and what He is currently doing.

And our response is: Obey. Trust Him completely. Because I’ve got news for you. I’m probably older than most of you and I have been through challenges with family, financial breakdown, personal betrayal, cancer with my wife, ministry situations that were just absolutely crazy, finding myself in other countries after tsunamis and wondering whether I was going to live or die.

And the Jesus who holds all things in His power who is the Creator and Sustainer of the world, I can bank on that. And He has come through and He has come through and He has come through. The way I want all the time? That it works out for me? Hardly. But, see, there’s one good thing about getting older. I tell all my friends, “I’m not old. I’m older.” Old is people that are decaying and stop living. Older is a lot more miles in your spiritual journey where my rearview mirror, I’ve got mile marker after mile marker after mile marker.

The God that I serve comes through. He just flat out comes through. And He has asked me to do all kind of things. And people that I know and I love that I admire, He will test us. He will allow challenges to come and you don’t know what kind of faith you have until you get a test. And it’s in the test. I mean, we read this Book through these glasses that were never intended. We read this Book through the lens of: What can God do for me?

Jesus wanted the disciples to grow in their faith. So, what did He do? He takes them out on a boat and they think they are going to die. He takes them where there’s a legion of demons and He casts it out. He throws them out on their own two-by-two and they wonder what is going to happen.

He tells them after all, “I’m leaving. Good luck.” Except He doesn’t say, “Good luck.” He says, “You can bank on,” – what? “I am preparing a place for you. I’m going to send you another Comforter. I’ll never let you down, I won’t leave you as orphans. It’s going to be even better for Me to leave.”

Here's my question: Do you believe and trust in that Jesus? That’s what this is all about. It’s putting on new glasses and saying, “What does the Bible actually say? Who is this Jesus that I’m trusting?”

Third question is: What is your role? He’s the head of the body, the Church. The word “head” there means He is the authority and He’s also the source. When He died, He purchased us for the Father. And by His blood we have been forgiven. And now that He doesn’t walk around in a physical body, but we are the extension, we are His body.

And notice it says He’s the firstborn from the dead. In other words, He blazed the trail and if He rose, the apostle Paul teaches us, we also shall rise. And then He’s the supremacy, He has first place in everything.

So, what He did is, yes, He is God. Yes, He has created everything. Yes, He sustains everything. But He was also human and He had to be human to die. And what He did is He came and He lived this perfect life and then He died and He rose from the dead and then He modeled for us, “I am going to overcome death.” You’ll overcome death if you’re a follower of Jesus. “I overcame sin.” You can overcome sin if you’re a follower of Jesus. He overcame Satan and He says to us, “Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.”

Are you starting to get a grasp of the Jesus that You can say, “I’m going to trust Him no matter what."
Third question is: What is your role? He’s the head of the body, the Church. The word “head” there means He is the authority and He’s also the source. When He died, He purchased us for the Father. And by His blood we have been forgiven. And now that He doesn’t walk around in a physical body, but we are the extension, we are His body.

And notice it says He’s the firstborn from the dead. In other words, He blazed the trail and if He rose, the apostle Paul teaches us, we also shall rise. And then He’s the supremacy, He has first place in everything.

So, what He did is, yes, He is God. Yes, He has created everything. Yes, He sustains everything. But He was also human and He had to be human to die. And what He did is He came and He lived this perfect life and then He died and He rose from the dead and then He modeled for us, “I am going to overcome death.” You’ll overcome death if you’re a follower of Jesus. “I overcame sin.” You can overcome sin if you’re a follower of Jesus. He overcame Satan and He says to us, “Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.”

Are you starting to get a grasp of the Jesus that You can say, “I’m going to trust Him no matter what. The cost is immaterial. He is a forever and forever God who is eternal who loves me. My life, eternal life began when I trusted the Lord Jesus and as it began, I may die, but after I die, my life will continue better and better and better as I’m living in the very presence of God in a new heaven and a new earth.”

See, when you have an eternal perspective and you understand who Jesus is, it starts to get a new view of what matters and what doesn’t matter. And if people reject you and what about…money looks differently and risk looks differently.

This is the kind of Jesus that creates a robust faith that is unwavering, that you don’t have to see it, you don’t know how it’s going to work out, but you trust Him.

My biggest concern for much of the Church is we have a group of people that have followed a set of principles or have some sense that if we do certain things and attend certain activities that somehow that is the thing that pleases God. If those things are really what you’re doing in order to express your faith, they are very important and very valid.

My fear when I look at the maturity of the Church, my fear when I see families disintegrating and abandoning biblical morality, my fear when we see the things that are happening all around us, if there’s not a group, it doesn’t have to be big, just regular people like you and me who say, “I trust You, Lord. No matter what. Because You blazed the trail. I will be resurrected. And this life is very short, and I’m going to walk with You regardless of what it takes.”

In the words of the apostle Paul, “My body is a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You. And this is my spiritual service of worship.” I’m on mission and my mission isn’t to be happy. My mission is to follow You with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and to love You and love my neighbor as myself. And the amazing thing is the great byproduct is the kind of joy and the kind of peace and the kind of life that you really want. But it’s a very, very different path.

The truth is, Jesus is Lord over the Church and our response? We must obey Him fully and completely.

You know, it’s back to those Old Testament pictures. You know, they’re at the edge of the water, right? And it wasn’t like, “Okay! Come on, man! Let’s get this thing going. Open it up and when it opens up, we’ll all walk through.” What does the text say? The text says it wasn’t until they stepped into the water that the Lord parted the water.

And, see, faith always involves risk. But it’s not that big a risk if the One you’re placing your faith in happens to have created the world, all things visible and invisible, thrones, dominions, powers, rulers.

And He is currently holding it in the palm of His hand and He has been resurrected and promises that if you follow Him, your future is secure. Is it hard? Yes. Is it challenging? Of course. But it’s Christians living like Christians. That’s just what we do.

Question: Where is God speaking to you that you need to obey? I cannot tell you how many people I have talked to who have said, “You know, I believe in Jesus. But I believe in the Jesus that has only a heaven. I believe in a Jesus that, you know, wants to help me. I believe in a Jesus that, you know, I think He’s all love and so I don’t have any problem with, you know, people living different kind of lifestyles, different kind of morality regardless of what the Bible says because my Jesus would…”

Here's what I’m trying to get you to see. We have reframed and created a different Jesus that then becomes a different gospel. And the apostle Paul says heaven forbid. That Jesus doesn’t hold up when someone you love gets cancer. That Jesus doesn’t hold up when you’re clinically depressed and you don’t know what to do or where to go. It doesn’t hold up when people abandon you or betray you, and you find yourself absolutely alone and afraid. The Jesus who made all that there is, who sustains all there is, who blazed the trail, and who currently, with myriads of angels worshipping and crying, “Holy, holy, holy,” is a Jesus that you can count on, a Jesus that you can put your faith in.

And so, you would ask Jesus, “What’s His goal? What’s His mission?” It says, “God was pleased to have all the fulness dwell in Him.” In other words, His mission is to reconcile all things to Himself, things on earth, things in heaven. Jesus is going to make everything right.

Like you, I struggle, okay? I’m not saying this is easy. I have a very, very close friend whose wife had cancer and we battled through it and prayed through it and then she got cancer again. And, I mean, major, major surgeries and reconstruction of everything under the sun. And his wife has had cancer three different times and now it’s like every six weeks she goes in for a scan. I don’t like that. It ticks me off. And I, reverently, “Hey, God! You know, she is one of the most godly people I have ever met.”

A lot of life doesn’t make sense and I don’t like it. But guess what, I’m not all-knowing and neither are you. I am not all-wise. I don’t see the end from the beginning. And God looks at all things through this lens of eternity and what is the best possible ends for the most possible people in the best possible way?

God knows what He’s doing. It doesn’t mean I like it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not hard in a fallen world.

The truth is Jesus is the sovereign King of time and eternity. And our response is we will reign with Him forever.

The apostle Paul may be the greatest example because, you know, you read what he went through, right? You know, a night and a day in the deep and beat with rods three times and left for dead once; stoned. And, yet, he finishes the faith.

He has this picture that people don’t talk about. “I’m going to receive a reward. There’s actually a real heaven, actually, a new earth that’s coming and it’s actually real.” And he lived his life with, like, this crazy idea that everything Jesus said is true. And even the disciples, remember, the very last night they were arguing about who is going to be the greatest?

And Jesus said, “Hey, if you want to be really great,” He gave them a different way to get there, right? Servanthood and humility and be last. But remember what He said to them? He knew what they were going to go through. He said, “You are going to rule with Me on these thrones in the new heaven and the new earth.

I mean, there’s something about getting that big picture that life isn’t just now. It really begins to cause you to have a kind of faith that is different than the Jesus-make-my-life-work-out-today.

Well, I want to ask you two or three questions and then I want to have a very gentle moment of great encouragement.

In light of what we have been talking about, question number one is this. How would you describe Jesus in your own words after reflecting on Colossians 1:15 through 20? I mean, just right now, right? Maybe you’re jogging, maybe you’re in your car, maybe you’re watching on a screen, TV, maybe alone, maybe with a group. And if you just paused in light of this passage and in your own words said, “This is who Jesus is.” How would you describe Him?

And maybe more important, how is that different than how you thought about Him before we studied this together?

Second question for you is what challenge or difficulty do you think now is beyond His ability to help you to get out of or to get through? I mean, in light of who Jesus is, I mean, the Jesus of Scripture. Colossians 1. You think He can handle this one?

So, if so, I think the last question is: What would it look like for you to trust Him?

And right now, over the years, I have been doing this pastor thing for a long time. And when I get right to here, what I realize is when people get really honest, down deep, a lot of them feel like, Okay, I get, I actually intellectually believe all this is true. But it’s probably true for people like you, Chip. I mean, it’s probably true for our pastor or, you know, those three friends that are super godly. But, I mean, you don’t know. I mean, I can’t remember the last time I picked up my Bible or, you know, people don’t even know about that affair. Or, I mean, my family life and my finances are so messed up and, you know, I don’t even know where I’d begin. I don’t think, I don’t think Jesus is going to help someone like me.

Can I tell you His posture toward you right now, not if you clean things up, not if you take, you know, four wonderful steps that are positive. Jesus’ posture toward you right now is this.

Here’s His invitation. “Come to Me all of you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

You see, what qualifies you to get help is if you’re weary, if you’re stressed out, if you’re burdened, if your life isn’t working. You see, He is so loving and He’s so compassionate. Those are the very things that draw Him to you. He’s not saying, “Work your way to Me. Just come. Today! Now! Just come.”

And then it goes on. He says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly,” or, “humble in heart.” I love that. It’s a – one is literal but the other is a metaphor. He says, “Take My yoke.” In other words, let’s team up together. It’s that picture of, you know, the two oxen and He says, “Let’s get connected together.” “I want you to start following my teaching. I want you to become my apprentice or my follower.”

And so, Jesus is saying, “If you’re weary, your life is not working out, you really feel like no one could care after all that you have done.” I have heard this hundreds of times. But this Jesus that created the world, this Jesus that sustains it, this Jesus that is going to reign forever: “Come. Just come right now just as you are. I’ll give you rest. Your step: Take My yoke.” Lord Jesus, today, right now. I want to get connected to You. I want to go where You want me to go, I want to do what You want me to do. And then I love this. He says, “You’ll find rest for your souls.” That’s the promise. Peace.

So much of our lives are medicating ourselves - trying to find peace, accomplishing things - trying to find peace, going through relationships - trying to find peace. He says, “I’m humble and lowly in heart.” And what He means by that is He is accessible. Yes, He has created all that there is – the heavens, visible and invisible – thrones, dominions. He says, “I am going to descend and I’m going to meet you right where you’re at. I’m going to tell you that I’m here to rescue you. Remember? I’m going to reconcile all things.” That word “all” is big. All things to Himself. And He wants to reconcile you!

You are one of those “all” things. And you might be a follower of Jesus and realize it’s a realignment. Or you may be someone who you consider yourself far from God. And the God of the universe had us meet on this day at this time to say, “I love you and I want you. Come.”

Then the final word is, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” That word “easy,” don’t be fooled. That’s a translation. Literally, it’s, “My yoke is comfortable.” In other words, it will fit you. He knows where you’re at, what you’re going through, what you can handle, what you can’t. And when this was done in the New Testament times, you know, it would be a bigger, stronger oxen, usually with a weaker one so they created it so it fit well and the big one would lead and the other one would learn. And so, the strength of what you need, Jesus is going to carry, but you’ve got to come and you’ve got to be honest and you come as you are. And here’s the result: Peace. Whoo. Peace.

I have had more conversations than you could ever imagine with people with incredible wealth, incredible success, painfully difficult marriages – one, two, or three. Children that don’t talk to them anymore. Spent their life in directions that they thought would bring peace and life and now feel like they are just too far gone. And I want to tell you God wants to give you peace.

If you have never received Jesus as your Savior and you’re thinking, I want the peace. Could you tell me how? It’s an act of the will, it’s receiving what Jesus did on the cross where He died for you and rose from the dead. And like any relationship is you ask. And so, right now. By the way, you don’t have to close your eyes to pray. Jesus says He looked up. You might look up and say, “God, I need You. I have done a lot of things wrong. I’m hurting. And today, I take You up on your invitation. Right now. I come and I ask You to forgive me and to come into my life. I believe today You died on the cross to pay for my sin and You rose from the dead to prove that it’s true. And I’m desperate need for peace. And so, I receive Your yoke today and I want to follow you. So please help me.”

And I would say if you prayed that with me, let me encourage you to text or call the greatest Christian you know and find a Bible-teaching church this weekend and show up and say, “I’m not sure how it all works, but I committed my life and received the Lord Jesus.” And you can even go to our website at Living on the Edge, livingontheedge.o-r-g. And there’s a pretty clear place where you receive Christ, and we have some information we’ll give absolutely free to get you on your way.

If you’re a follower of Jesus and all that I have said is sort of old territory, but you need to put the yoke on because you’re in desperate need of peace, could I encourage you? Turn around. Get back on track. You don’t have to work your way there, you don’t have to feel bad about yourself, you don’t have to whip yourself with wet noodles, “I’m a terrible person.” Just come. Draw near to God, He’ll draw near to you. He loves you, today, right where you’re at and He wants to help you, today. Now the ball is in your court. If you come, He will help you.