“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” — Colossians 1:17
“Who is Jesus to you?” A complete stranger asked me this recently at my local Walmart. And I have to admit, even though I’m a pastor’s wife and Bible teacher, it took me by surprise. For one thing, I was in the middle of smelling deodorant. Weird? Yes. But I never can seem to remember the right name of the one my husband uses without my nose. So there I was, deodorant in hand, when this older woman approached me and asked:
“Who is Jesus to you?”
I thought to myself, “How do I answer that question in the middle of the personal hygiene aisle at Walmart and do it any justice? I could spend hours, days even, telling you about who Jesus is. Not just who he is, but who he is to me. Jesus is my heartbeat, my anchor, my light, my dearest and most constant friend. He has walked with me through every dessert, shown me mountain vistas, and lit my path through deep woods. Jesus has held my hand in hospitals and met me prostrate on the floor. Jesus is my everything, my very life. Without him, I am void of every good thing, without hope and without God in the world."
But, I didn’t say any of that.
I merely said, “Jesus is God. He’s my Savior and the Lord of my life.” She agreed with me, and moved on fairly quickly (l saw her shortly after talking to a man looking at vitamins). It was odd, to be sure. But as I’ve continued to reflect on that interaction, I realize that while the timing was strange, that woman was asking a good question—one that is both based on facts and deeply felt, one I want to ask you today:
“Who is Jesus to you?”
Actually, don’t answer that yet. Before you do, I want to first remind you who Jesus is, not just personally, but universally. Because this isn’t a question any of us really can answer experientially without first grounding our answer in the truth of who Jesus actually is—the Jesus we see revealed in Scripture. In our memory verse and the surrounding passage, this is exactly what we see. It’s one of the most beautiful, compact, and even poetic examples in all of Scripture of the majesty and wonder of Jesus, the Son of God. I want to read it together, consider it, and in light of it, ask you that question one more time. Here’s Colossians 1:15–20:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 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 and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Who is Jesus? The tangible, visible image of the invisible God.
Who is Jesus? The firstborn heir and rightful owner of all the things he created with the Father.
Who is Jesus? The one for whom all things were made—everything you see and everything you don’t, every furthest planet, every unseen spiritual creature, and every human heart, all of it was made for him!
Who is Jesus? The one holding all of it together, sustaining and maintaining, intimately and infinitely upholding all things by the word of his power.
Who is Jesus? The one who deserves only worship and wonder. Yet, we did not give it. Instead, we spurned the one who made and sustains all things, and we broke it all.
Who is Jesus? The one who could have started over, but didn’t—he entered his creation not to condemn it, but to serve and sacrifice and spill his blood to make all things right again.
This is Jesus—who brought us peace and offers it to all who would believe in him. So let me ask you one more time:
Who is Jesus to you?
If Jesus is all of this, then do you really live like it’s true? Has Jesus, who entered into creation, entered into your heart? Do you live like Jesus, who is Lord over all things, is Lord of your daily life? Do you live for the one whom you were made for? If he is before all things, do you put him before all things in your own life and heart? Do you ask the one who holds all things together to hold all of your things—your worries, your fears, your hopes and dreams?
For me, the answer is no. And yes. And sometimes.
I wish I could say, “Yes! Emphatically! Without reservation and all of the time.” But honestly, I can’t. What I know is true and how I live don’t always match up. But even in my failure and trying, Jesus meets me with mercy, with the offer of reconciliation and renewal, with the power of the Spirit to help me live out what I believe to be true.
Friend, I hope as you meditate on and memorize Colossians 1:17 this month that Jesus himself would meet you in it. I hope that it would not just challenge your heart but comfort and encourage you. Jesus, who is Lord over all, holding all things together, is offering to hold you, to help you, and to give you peace. May it be that we would take him honestly and gratefully at his good word, allowing it to change us one day at a time.