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Reasons for Awe

Published: 5 months ago- 31 December 2023
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If there’s been just one standout lesson from being a parent this past year, it’s been the reality of ‘lost awe’ and ‘lost wonder’. As Ava has grown and developed, she has continually reminded me that the ordinary is actually extraordinary. For her, everything is constantly “wow” or “waa” or “aww”. Whether it’s when Ava sees a Koala at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, or the beauty of the colour yellow in a colouring book, or watching the intense lightning and storms from her bedroom window, or the wonder of magpies pooping on my back-deck-it’s all “wow!”

All of these moments have reminded me of how easy it is to lose a sense of wonder, a sense of awe. It’s so easy to lose ‘awe’, isn’t it? Whether that’s because of familiarity, a busy lifestyle, stress, negative experiences, overstimulation with screens-it’s so easy to under-appreciate and under-value truly extraordinary things.


As we approach the new year together, my prayer for both you and I is quite simple. It’s that we don’t lose our ‘awe’ for Jesus, God the Son.

You see, lost awe for Jesus is so easy to come by, isn’t it? And I’m certainly not immune to any of this! As our prayer lives shrivel up, so does our awe. As our time in the Bible gets trumped by time on social media, so does our awe. As frustration and anger over human relationships consumes us and grabs our attention, we can say goodbye to awe. As we get self-centred and self-obsessed, worrying about or even treasuring created things, we lose any space for awe. In fact, for some of us, even just hearing about this pursuit of awe for Jesus has become dry and unappealing! You see, lost awe for Jesus is so easy to come by. And so my prayer is that we won’t lose our ‘awe’ for Jesus this new year, but that it will grow (bit by bit).

And what better way for us to start, or to restart, or to continue growing in awe for Jesus, than by spending the “Summer in the Son”? To spend the next four weeks, looking at and treasuring who Jesus is by hearing from four Christological passages in the New Testament-(today) Colossians 1, (next week) Hebrews 1, (then) John 1, and (then) Revelation 1. It’s a Summer in the Son.

Now, you might be sitting there thinking “Seriously, more about Jesus!” “How could this possibly benefit me in the year ahead?”. Well, it just will. In the New Testament, divine Christology (the study of the person of Christ) always has a significant function or purpose for the church. More often than not, it’s to strengthen faith, to bring about assurance and perseverance during difficult times, to bring joy and awe, and also to reorder our worship. You see, gazing upon the beauty of Christ is meant to bring about healing and sustenance for our hearts and lives.

In his sermon on The Person of Christ, Charles Spurgeon actually gives a short parable about this issue-he tells a story of a hospital, its patients, and its doctor. He writes:

[Imagine… ] If we had here a vast hospital full of sick folk, it would be the best of news for those who are weak and feeble… if I could tell them that a great physician had devoted himself to their healing. And the more I could extol the physician who had come to visit them, the more would there be of good news for them. If I could say to them, “The physician who is coming to heal you is possessed of infallible wisdom and unerring skill, and in him are united loving tenderness and infinite power”… … [Oh] how they would smile upon their beds! Why, the very news would half restore them!”.1

You see, just as knowing who your doctor is can bring you joy, certainty, and hope-so also a deep knowledge of Christ. So, what better way to start the new year!? A Summer in the Son-growing in awe of Jesus.


That brings us to today’s passage-Colossians 1.

Here in Colossians 1, the Apostle Paul gives us three identity statements about who Jesus is. Effectively, they’re three reasons to be in awe of the Son. And this morning/evening, we’re going to move through each one, and then we’ll consolidate at the end.

So, here we go.


Reason for awe: The Son is “the image of God”.

In verse 15, the Apostle Paul begins by speaking about the Son’s relationship with God. He writes this:

Col 1:15 The Son is the image of the invisible God…

Throughout the Bible, God is described as being non-material, invisible (cf. 1 John 4:12; 1 Timothy 6:16). God is a unique substance, distinct from the universe. Unlike human beings, God is neither material or dependant on material. God is formless, un-embodied, invisible. Therefore, Paul is saying is that the Son, Jesus Christ, makes the character and nature of the invisible God visible to human eyes. He is the image of God.

To be an ‘image’ of something, basically means to be something that looks like, or represents, something else.2 In the first century AD, this word ‘image’ (literally: icon) was used for the portraits of Caesar that were stamped onto Roman coins.3 Essentially, Caesar was represented by this coin. But there’s another echo here, that goes back much further in history. It’s the echo of Genesis 1, from the creation story: “Let us make humankind in our image”. In the beginning, God was represented by human beings. But.. notice… here, in Paul’s soundtrack, he claims that the Son is the image of the invisible God.

What Paul is saying is that the embodied Son, Jesus Christ, makes the character and nature of the invisible God visible to human eyes. Everything that is God is present and on display in the Son, Jesus Christ. As one person said:

The Godness of God is in Jesus”.4

Reason for awe: The Son is “the image of God”.


Reason for awe: The Son is “the firstborn over creation”.

In verse 15, the Apostle Paul goes on to speak about the Son’s relationship with creation. Paul says that the Son is the inheritor of all things. He writes this:

Col 1:15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

In just these words, we’re told that Jesus has a unique relationship to the created order. The Son is the “firstborn” of everything. Now when you hear “firstborn” don’t think that the Son was created or is part of creation. No, think “inheritance” or “possessor” or “ruler”. He’s more like the firstborn of a family, Paul’s saying that the Son is the inheritor of all things. Everything belongs to him. He owns it all!

I’m not sure what you’ve been up to over the summer, but I’m sure that you’ve been taking part in the Son’s cosmos. As you’ve swum in the ocean, as you’ve caught a wave, as you’ve sat on the beach, as you’ve ate ice cream, as you’ve seen family and friends, as you’ve lived and breathed-you been doing all that (and more!) in the Son’s cosmos.

The Son is the inheritor and owner of all things.

But, then notice, that the Apostle Paul expands on this thought. In verses 16-17, Paul unravels this thought, he gives it more meaning, and depth. The Son is not just the inheritor of the cosmos, but he is also the creator, the sustainer, and the end of all things. Paul writes:

16 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. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

“All things” Not “some things”, not “a few things”, not “this thing or that thing” but “all things”. “All things” are created “in”, “through”, and “for” the Son! What Paul’s saying is that there is ‘the creation’ and then there is ‘the Son’. Whilst the creation has autonomy to move, develop, and grow, the creation is never remote from or independent from the Son. The Son is the beginning of the universe. The Son is the continuing of the universe. The Son is the end, the telos, the goal of the universe. All things are created “in”, “through”, and “for” the Son, Jesus Christ.

Reason for awe: The Son is “the firstborn over creation”.


Reason for awe: The Son is “the firstborn over the new creation”.

In verse 18, the Apostle Paul makes a shift. He now speaks about the Son’s relationship with the new creation-his people, the church. Paul says that by the Son’s death and resurrection, the Son also rules over a new order. Paul writes this:

Col 1:18 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.

In conquering death, the Son now rules over it. Such that he is “the beginning” of a new order, a new people, a new existence. This ‘new people’ are called “his body”-they are united to Christ and they receive all life, sustenance, and growth from Him (who is their head).

The Son is supreme over the new creation, the church!

But, how does the Son acquire this position? How is everything restored to the Son? Well, notice that God makes peace through the Son’s blood, shed on a cross. In verses 19-20, the Apostle Paul goes on to write this:

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell [in the Son], 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through [the Son’s] blood, shed on the cross.

In these verses, Paul speaks about the Son as if he were like a ‘temple’ and a ‘sacrifice’.5 Now, that sounds a bit weird, so let me explain.

In the Old Testament (the first half of the Bible), the temple was the place where God dwelled. God would dwell amongst his people in a building, a temple. And also in the Old Testament, the temple was the place where sacrifices, blood-animal sacrifices, were made for the guilt of the people. The blood of the animal would reconcile the person and their God when there was conflict.

So here, Paul speaks about the Son as if he were like a ‘temple’ and a ‘sacrifice’. The Son (v19) is the place where God dwells (“All the fulness of God was pleased to dwell in him”). But more than that, the Son is also the sacrifice (he’s the one who “makes peace by the blood of his cross”). What Paul is saying is that God is reconciling all things to himself through the Son and his cross.

In the 1st Century, when Jesus was betrayed by his followers-he was making peace. When Jesus was judged unjustly as a criminal-he was making peace. When Jesus was whipped, insulted, and humiliated-he was making peace. When Jesus was then nailed to a wooden cross-he was making peace. When Jesus breathed his last-he was making peace. And it was not a mere man who died and who spilt his blood, but it was the divine Son in whom God dwelled-the God-Man.

Reason for awe: The Son is “the firstborn over the new creation”.


Here in Colossians 1, we get such a beautiful and glorious picture of Jesus, don’t we? We see the Supreme Son in whom is the image of God, in whom rules the created order, and in whom redeems all things through his cross. This is a Christ, a divine Son, in whom we cannot yawn at!6 He is one whom we cannot be tired of, or get too familiar with, or ignore, or replace, or reject, or know too well.

So, what do you think of Christ? What have you been thinking of Christ, lately? Do you see beauty? Has his glory broken into your view? Has it beamed into your mind? Has his majesty impacted your heart? Is it causing you to say “I need this kind of saviour”? Are you in awe?

In his sermon, Christ’s exaltation, Thomas Watson reminds us of the response that Christ’s glory should have upon our lives. Watson says that passages like Colossians 1 should make us “exalt” Christ in our hearts, and with our lips, and throughout our lives. He writes:

Let us exalt Christ in our hearts. Believe! Oh, adore and love Him! We cannot lift Christ up higher in heaven, but we may in our hearts. Let us exalt Him with our lips: let us praise Him! Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, our tongues must be the organs in these temples. By praising and commending Christ, we exalt Him in the esteem of others. Let us exalt Him in our lives by living holy lives… this makes Christ renowned and lifts Him up indeed, when His followers walk worthy of Christ.”.7

How should you respond when you see the glory and beauty of Christ? Well, effectively, be in awe. Watson reminds each one of us to exalt the Son-in your heart, with your lips, and in your life.

So, what could that look like? Well:

  • Got a big decision to make? Let the Son be the centre of your decisions and your priorities.
  • Anxious about things in your life? Acknowledge the Son’s supremacy in everything.
  • Unsettled by suffering or a change of circumstances? Well, rest in and experience the profound security of being held together by the Son.
  • Wondering whether God likes you? Receive and embrace the peace of being reconciled to God through the Son’s cross.
  • Feeling distant from God? Remind yourself that the Son shows us the invisible God.
  • Upset with the church or how its going? Tell yourself that the Son is the head, and we’re the body.
  • Wondering what to do with your life? Feeling purposeless? Consider how you’ve been created ‘for’ the Son.
  • Doubting your salvation? Rest in the knowledge of the Son’s blood spilt for you.
  • Face with death? Know that Christ is the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler of a new creation.

To be in awe of the Son, is to exalt Him-in your heart, with your lips, and in your lives.


Awe and wonder can be easily lost, especially as followers of Jesus. But it is gained and grown as we gaze at the beauty of who Jesus is. So let’s ask God to give us such wonder and awe for his Son, so that (in this new year) we might exalt him.

1 Spurgeon, The Person of Christ from a collection of sermons in The Glory of Christ, 11.

2 Moo, Colossians, 120.

3 Moo, Colossians, 120.

5 Beale, Colossians, Chapter 3

7 Watson, The Exaltation of Christ from a collection of sermons in The Glory of Christ, 33.