“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Colossians 1:15
It may come as a surprise to you, but there was a time when Christians believed that Jesus was not God, or was more human than God. Some believed He was not the Son of God as we know Him to be, but a man whom God had given power to; not divine in and of himself, but through God’s doing. Paul may or may not have been trying to counteract those kinds of belief when writing this, but it may have been a consideration.
In verses 13 and 14, Paul says “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Establishing Jesus as the Son of God, of divine origin and with divine power, is certainly crucial to explaining how, exactly, we have redemption through Him. However, to me, the main goal of verses 15 through 18 isn’t to convince us of Christ’s divinity; they also provide an explanation of how we are redeemed through Jesus.
Here is the text of those four verses: “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 preeminence.”
Jesus’s status as the firstborn over all creation is because it is through Him that all things were created. All things exist because of Him, and in Him. He sustains us; he’s in charge of us, of our existence. That doesn’t mean that we don’t make our own choices about our lives, but the fact that we have lives to make choices about is because of Jesus.
Christ is also in charge of the church; His life, death, and resurrection are its foundation, and His Spirit brings us into the fold and leads us forward on the path to Heaven. He was the first to be resurrected as well. He is first in all things.
Because He is first, because He is the source of creation as well as the church, He was able to choose to lay His life down for us, to give us power over sin and death through His blood. When we accept His sacrifice on our behalf, we accept that power, we are forgiven and redeemed. The Holy Spirit may guide us on the path to Heaven, but Jesus is the path to Heaven: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'” (John 14:6).