The magnitude of Christ Jesus is something we desperately need to understand better.
We need it because seeing him for all that he is will ultimately be the only way we can overcome our temptations to idolatry. In Desiring God, John Piper writes, “I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than…to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God.” And nothing can give us that “superior satisfaction in God” better than a clearer focus on Jesus and his greatness. When we are captured and captivated by who Jesus is, we’ll be empowered and equipped to resist the constant temptations to settle for anything less.
And let me emphasize here that this more intense gaze at Christ is not just some intellectual effort but a matter of the heart’s fascination, something thrilling and glad. Ultimately, it takes this kind of joy to defeat idolatry and sin. As the eighteenth-century Puritan Matthew Henry wrote, “The joy of the lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.”
The Colossians passage where the magnitude of Christ comes through most powerfully is in verses 15-20 in chapter 1. Scholars say these lines may well have been originally a hymn to Christ. Paul breaks out here in songful praise, showing just how immense Jesus is, how mighty to save. One commentator observes that Paul seems to be in a state of controlled ecstasy here, awestruck by our Savior’s vastness.
Even in a passage so brief, notice how often Paul keeps bringing up the allness, the everythingness that’s connected with Jesus Christ:
He is…the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created…all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together… . He is the beginning…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. (Col. 1:15-20)
Paul is making giant declarations about the unqualified totality of Christ’s preeminence. He wants his readers to be swept away by the sheer size of Christ, to savor his infinite supremacy and beauty and brilliance and power and trustworthiness.
The fact is, Jesus owns the concept of “everything.” Paul wants us to be radically impressed by all that Jesus is –and to sense the truth that anything else in our lives must seem remarkably minor by comparison. God wants us to be awestruck by Christ’s greatness, then strangely liberated by a fresh realization of our own smallness.