He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
For 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.
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
The cross is a pretty big deal.
One time I worked at a church and on a Sunday we baptized 4 people. The following Monday, we looked at the comment cards, a sort of analog version of Google ratings, and read one that said “You don’t even have a cross hanging on the wall. Never coming back.”
The cross is important. But it’s even more important than Mr. or Mrs. Never Coming Back ever suspected.
In many other religions and worldviews, the original founder or leader died. They might have died for the cause or died for his or her beliefs, so I guess figuratively they died for someone else.
But Jesus is the only one that died as a part of the rescue plan. (A rescue plan to bring salvation is another thing that sets Christianity apart from other religions, but we’ll talk about that another day.) From the prophesies hundreds of years before Christ’s birth, He knew that His death would be part of the plan. Isaiah 53 says that He “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” That means that He, Jesus, would carry everyone else’s sin and be the in-between payment for any sinners.
Jesus’ cross was the final step in saving the world. His sacrifice, like the sacrifice on the day of atonement, would take away sin. His sacrifice, unlike the sacrifice on the day of atonement, would take away sin permanently so that no more sacrifices would have to be made.
The cross of Jesus was also unique in that every cross the Romans made killed a guilt man or woman. Sure, they did something against Rome, but even worse they had all done something against God. Born in the line of Adam, seeking to meet our needs for love and worth through earthly means, every one of us has rebelled in our hearts against God – except Jesus.
His life of perfection was all to teach and to show us truth. Eventually, His perfect life would point to the depravity of our sin in that we would be so fallen as to crucify God’s one and only Son. We were so fallen that we would criticize and kill perfection personified.
One step further, God uses what the devil intends for evil to work for our good. Jesus’ death on the cross was how God would bring salvation to all who would believe it.