Combine the busyness of the typical Christmas season with the tension of a national election and the persistence of a global pandemic, and the joys of the season can get squeezed out. In this unique moment, it’s more important than ever to boil Christmas down to its irreducible minimum—Christmas is Christ!
Sometimes, it’s helpful to start with the simplest questions: Who was this child, Jesus? Who is this One who came to Earth as an infant? And how are we to relate to Him who is the eternal Son of God? (John 1:18; Psalm 2:7; Hebrews 13:8). To say Jesus is the eternal Son of God means He has always existed in relationship to the Father as the Son. It does not imply a biological connection between the Father and the Son (for God is spirit—John 4:24) but rather, a relational connection, one that places the Son in a position of supreme authority.
A word comes to mind that describes the uniqueness of Christ: matchless. Jesus Christ is peerless and unrivaled—He has no equal as Revealer, Creator, Sustainer, Director or Redeemer. Jesus is the matchless One! That idea is clear in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians. As we look through the lens of Jesus as the eternal Son of God, we get a fresh perspective of the Baby in the manger.
The Matchless Revealer
The Baby wrapped in swaddling cloths is God Himself. Paul called Jesus “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). The Greek word for image is eikon; it means “a likeness or portrait.” If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. In the days of film photography, there was a phenomenon known as the latent image. When you pushed the camera button and light entered the lens, it formed an image on the film that you couldn’t see. If you took the film out at that point, you’d only see a colorless, creamy emulsion. The image is there—the silver bromide crystals have been excited—but it’s a latent image; concealed, hidden. When you put that film in a liquid developer, the latent image becomes a visible image.
God is invisible. But Jesus has made God known: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son … has declared Him” (John 1:18). And in Jesus “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). No one reveals God to the world except Jesus—not Buddha, not Muhammad, not Moses, not Paul. The Father’s express image is only revealed—developed if you will—in the Son!
Only Jesus demonstrates God’s nature and character—His omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence were all wrapped up in that tiny bundle in Bethlehem. When Paul called Him “the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15), he didn’t mean Jesus was created by God and then He created the rest. He was referring to Jesus’ status, His rank as the highest in honor and supreme ruler over all creation. Simply put, the best picture of what the eternal God is like comes by studying the picture provided by Christ, the eternal Son of God.
The Matchless Creator
Paul next makes a threshold statement about Jesus: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible. … All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). That single word, creation, often becomes the dividing line between calm and irrational conversations. You can talk about your religious ideas, even share the Gospel, and a few may even nod—until you say you actually hold to a literal creation.
The naturalist will immediately scoff at this, while maintaining an even more absurd position that no one plus nothing equals everything. To eliminate God from the equation is to invite bigger problems: If the universe came about randomly by an explosion of extant gases in space, where did the space and gases come from? Regressing an infinite number of years doesn’t help to solve the problem. This intricately designed universe had a designer. That designer is Christ. As John also said about Jesus, “All things were made through Him” (John 1:3). What a wonderful design He has made!
Paul also wrote that Jesus “is before all things” (Colossians 1:17). Jesus as God existed before anything was made, and He was there at the beginning—the Word who was with God and was God Himself (John 1:1-2). Plant your flag for the age of the universe as far back as you’d like and Jesus will step out of eternity to meet you! Micah said, “[His] goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). This is Jesus—the eternal Son—the Alpha and the Omega!
The Matchless Sustainer
Not only did Christ create the universe, He is holding it all together: “in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17). He took chaos—unformed matter—and made cosmos—our ordered system. Science can’t explain the forces that hold an atomic nucleus together—the protons and neutrons should repel each other but don’t. One scientist considered the wonder of subatomic particles and asked, “Why doesn’t it fly apart? And therefore, why do not all atoms fly apart?” Physicists for years have toyed with the quantum chromodynamics theory, the notion that particles are bound with a sort of atomic glue. Jesus Christ is the real powder behind gravity, centrifugal and centripetal force.
What science can’t answer, the Bible does—Jesus Christ. Here again is the wonder of Christmas: The Baby who needed feeding and changing was still managing to hold the entire universe together.
What would happen if He let go? Everything would fly apart. The verb tense Paul uses for consist indicates that Jesus continues to hold all things together, and the full picture of Scripture tells us that one day, He will let it all go (2 Peter 3:10). But until the end, Jesus will hold it all together, because He wants as many as possible to receive the gift of the Christmas Child.
That first Christmas night, the Baby that Mary and Joseph held was also holding them together. And He is holding you together today. Have you placed your trust in the Baby, the eternal Son of God that angels praised and shepherds worshiped?
The Matchless Director
One of the major results of Jesus coming to Earth was the formation of a special group of people that He called His “church” (Matthew 16:18), often referred to by Paul as the Body of Christ. Paul writes, “He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).
Follow the apostle’s thought process: Jesus existed as Creator, then revealed the Father to the world through His incarnation—and now we as the church take up that task under His oversight. Jesus as the head of the Body gives directions to all the parts. He uses diversity within the Body, in terms of personalities, gifts, callings and locations, to reveal His majesty to the world. God’s life lived out in us individually is what brings unity out of that diversity. This new society, the church, was intended to be the base of operations through which God heals the broken world.
Paul reminds us that, since Jesus is Creator, Revealer, Sustainer and Director, He should have “the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). In other words, He should occupy first place in our lives the way He does in the universe and the church. “He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding” (Colossians 1:18-19, MSG).
Jesus was Mary’s first child, so of course He held a special place in her heart—both as her son and as her God. There must have been times when she wondered which to prioritize, and yet, God clearly chose her to be Jesus’ mother because God held first place in her heart. As Gabriel told her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). Jesus was first in her life; is He first in yours? It’s a perfect time of year for a priority check!
Is Jesus first in your marriage, your parenting, your friendships? Is He first in your time management, your work ethic and your pursuits? Is Jesus still first when no one else is looking? Christmas is a great time to focus on Him. If you put Him first, He’ll hold you together, the same way He does the universe.
The Matchless Redeemer
Jesus’ status as “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18) means He is the highest ranking among everyone who has risen from the dead. That includes those resurrected in the Bible—Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, the son of the widow of Zarephath and the deceased saints who rose at Jesus’ death. No one else could have done what Jesus did to redeem mankind, and no one else could be the head of His church. The Baby in Bethlehem was born to die, to rescue from eternal damnation any who believe in Him.
And in typical fashion, Jesus came to Earth on a perfect timetable. God’s rescue plan was set in motion the instant Adam and Eve fell. The tension grew as prophets foretold the arrival of God’s Messiah—the One who would rescue His people from slavery to sin and death.
It reached its climax at the cross, as Jesus grew up to become the perfect sacrifice—fully God and fully man—for all mankind’s sin. He met God’s requirements—the blood of an innocent for the life of the guilty—by living a perfect, blameless life that began in “the fullness of the time” (Galatians 4:4). That’s Paul’s way of describing the matchless timing of the Redeemer’s advent.
Jesus came when the ancient world was at a peak of religious fervor, people empty and disillusioned by the inability of their beliefs to meet their deepest needs. He was born in the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s great Hellenization of the world—to give it a common tongue in Greek, which meant the Gospel could go out with a greater reach than ever before. And it would go out on Roman roads that connected the world in unprecedented ways. Finally, Jesus came in fulfillment of 330 prophecies about the Messiah, against all odds, at a time when expectation in the Jewish nation had never been higher. Mary’s Baby was born center stage, to bring redemption that would lead to relationship with the one and only God.
As we celebrate Christmas, we are to rejoice in the God who gave Himself for us—the perfect and eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ. We celebrate Jesus as the One who created everything we see and don’t see, the Child who revealed God’s compassionate love, the Sustainer who holds all things and us together, the Director who mobilizes His people to share the best news the world has ever heard, and the Redeemer who came at the perfect time to rescue us from ourselves and from the bleakest of futures. The matchless Jesus is the perfect match for us! ©2020 Skip Heitzig
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. The quotation marked MSG is taken from The Message, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Skip Heitzig is founder and senior pastor of Calvary of Albuquerque, a Calvary Chapel Fellowship in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Above: Night falls in Bethlehem, in the Palestine region of Israel.