I had planned for the next few days to focus on Colossians 1:15-20 which speaks so powerfully of the supremacy of Christ, when I read the following in the EMW Daily Devotion and decided to share it as an introduction to the Colossians passage.
What is your beloved more than another beloved, O most beautiful among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you thus adjure us?
Song of Songs 5:9
Those of you who have read Basic Christianity by John Stott will recognise this quotation from Carnegie Simpson as he writes about Christ:
Instinctively, we do not class Him with others. When one reads His name in a list beginning with Confucius and ending with Goethe we feel it is an offence less against orthodoxy than against decency. Jesus is not one of the group of the world’s great. Talk about Alexander the Great and Charles the Great and Napoleon the Great if you will . . . Jesus is apart. He is not the Great; He is the Only. He is simply Jesus. . . .
There is a saying of Charles Lamb that ‘if Shakespeare was to come into this room we should all rise up to meet him, but if that Person was to come into it, we should all fall down and try to kiss the hem of His garment.’
Today, as you mix with men and women and children, and later as you watch the television news, why not pay special attention to people’s words? And then, having done that, why not compare them with the words and actions of Jesus?
You will hear people saying things and then modifying, or withdrawing, what they have just said. Politicians do it all the time. And so do ordinary people. ‘I didn’t mean it like that’, they say. But no word Jesus spoke ever needed to be modified or retracted. He never uttered a half-truth and never exaggerated. Nothing that He said was tactless or ill-considered.
You will hear people apologising. That is what great people do, and what small-minded people cannot bring themselves to do. But Christ never performed an action or spoke a word that required an apology.
Among Christians you will hear people talking about their sin. The more saintly they are, the more likely they are to do this. But, totally unlike Augustine of Hippo or David Brainerd, Jesus showed no consciousness of sin whatever. And those who were closest to Him saw no sign of it either. Nor did His enemies. To this hour the Saviour’s moral reputation remains untarnished.
This being so, He never once asked for pardon. He told His disciples to pray, ‘Forgive us our debts’, but He never took these words upon His own lips. He was as holy on the earth as He had been from all eternity in heaven.
Today you will hear people asking for advice. This is something that was done by many wise leaders in the Bible, and something that is still done by wise leaders today. But Jesus never did it. And on the few occasions when people offered Him advice, He didn’t take it. But was there ever a moment in His life when He was not perfectly wise?
It is estimated by some observers that two-thirds of human conversation is composed of self-justification. There is certainly plenty of it around, and has been since the Garden of Eden. But not in Jesus. Does He appear indifferent to His disciples’ cries when they are panicking in a sinking boat? Is He open to misunderstanding when He delays going to the bedside of dying Lazarus? Jesus is content to do His Father’s will and to leave His justification in His Father’s hands.
There is no one like Him. Isn’t that why we admire Him, follow Him, love Him – and entrust ourselves to Him?
There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin:
He only could unlock the gate
of heaven and let us in.
Stuart Olyott (Liverpool).