By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scriptures: John 15:4-5; Colossians 1:14-19
Sunday 10th April 2016
Today’s message titled ‘Unveiling Christ’ is the second of the series – Living a Super Abundant Life. Here is John 15:4-5, ‘Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing’.
These two verses reveal Jesus’ identity and what the disciples were meant to do in response to this revelation. As the branches cannot survive without a main trunk, (in this case the vine), so his disciples and by inference, the church cannot subsist without abiding in the vine. In other words, Jesus declared himself as the source of life without which we cannot survive. Nothing else in this world can replace Him. We may try other inceptions, but nothing works quite like Him. He is our provider, nurturer and life. Without Christ, life becomes empty – no victory, success or achievements. Hence, the vine defines the branches. The significance of the branches is rooted in the vine.
Let’s unpack the reason why Christ spoke the words in John 15 to his disciples. We find a good account of this reason in the story recorded in Matthew 16:13-19. It points to the exclusive and significant impact that Christ's followers have on their world, once they catch a revelation of who he truly is. ‘When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
The revelation of Christ as depicted in these verses changed the perspective of the disciples about who he was, and their understanding of their identity in relation to his person. Besides, the church was established as a result of this same disclosure. Lastly, this story also blazoned the authority we have as Christians to bind and loose all that heaven has authorized.
St Paul also caught a revelation of Christ at his conversion as recorded in Acts 9:1-6. In summarizing his conversion, he wrote in Philippians 3:5-11, saying: ‘Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ’ (Verse 6 NLT). He goes further to write in verse 10: ‘I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death’.
The church in Colossae had been distracted from the right doctrine and teachings, embracing superstitions and religious falsities. It was against this backdrop that St. Paul wrote to them emphasizing the supremacy of Christ. He writes in Colossians 1: 14-18, ‘in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And 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 pre-eminence’.
Before these words, St Paul had mentioned the marvelous inclusion of Gentiles in the salvation story of God. He writes ‘Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light’ (V12). However, we must be connected to enjoy these blessings being offered by Christ.
Here are some attributes from this description of Christ in Colossians 1:
(1) Christ is the firstborn of all Creation: He is the originator, the creator and consummator of all creation.
(2) Christ existed before time: He is aware of all that is going on in our lives, and can handle all things. He lives outside of time and space and He is unrestrained by them. We can effect that same authority as we abide in Him.
(3) Christ is not only before all things, but the entire universe is held by Him: He is the cohesive force holding the entire universe together – planet, stars, galaxies and all. He holds us all together, despite the vicissitudes of life.
(4) Christ is the meaning of the universe: Without him, the entire universe exists without meaning, purpose or relevance.
(5) When creation revolted against God, Christ stepped in to reconcile the world back to God: His life on earth began with when he took on flesh. He lived and died for humanity for this sole purpose. By His death and resurrection, he put an end to the old and made all things new. It was from this new creation, that the church – Ekklesia was expressed, with Christ being the head, authority and source of the body.
(6) Christ triumphed over the greatest enemy – death: He conquered death, extinguished its sting and dismantled the fear that was associated with it.
(7) The totality of God dwells in Christ: Colossians 1:19 sum this up this way: ‘For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell’. Colossians 2:9-10 also reads: ‘For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power’. With Christ in us, we have hope of a better tomorrow.
In rounding up, we can reflect on some of the narrations in the gospel, including the story of the woman with the issue of blood. The scripture records that she drew her healing from Christ in the midst of a thronging crowd, by touching the hem of his garment (Matthew 9:18-26). The same was recorded of the centurion who requested that Jesus speak the word to his paralysed servant (Matthew 8:5-13). Lastly, we can also recall the faith of the four friends who brought the paralytic man to Christ, lowering him via a rooftop, eventually leading to his healing and life transformation. As Christians, we can be encouraged by these stories and enjoined to connect to our Lord, the unveiled Christ.
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