[He is] the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created…
Jesus is the firstborn in the family of creation. That is to say has the first rank of all creation. Paul will later tell us that Jesus is also the first rank in the new creation: he is "the beginning, the firstborn from the dead". Jesus is not the first to rise from the dead but he ranks first among God's new creation, just as he ranks first in the old creation.
The idea of Jesus being even ranked among creation is perplexing. Is Jesus not above creation? The answer of course is yes and no. Jesus in his divine nature is certainly above creation. Jesus is uncreated because Paul has already told us Jesus is God made visible : "he is the image of the invisible God". Jesus is the Eternal Son of God.
However, in his humanity Jesus is within creation! He is born in it. So he can indeed be numbered among those created. It is a fact that Jesus the baby was created by God in the womb of Mary. He is a 100% human being. But he is no ordinary human being he is the first rank among all human beings.
Why can't Jesus just be equal to every human being? The answer is found in Paul's next statement: "For by him all things were created…". Jesus is the one who brought all things into existence. The word "by" actually means "by means of" or "in". The total mechanism is the Lord Jesus. Everything has the signature of Jesus written on it. As Paul later says, "all things were created through him [Jesus] and for [Jesus]".
So we have come full circle. The divinity of Jesus is crucial in his positioning among the created. Jesus is certainly a 100% human being in every way, but he is also 100% God. His humanity gives him his "born" status, his divinity gives him his "first" status. By virtue of his divinity he takes the highest place of honour among us. He is ahead of the pack in every way.
In other words in a few sentences Paul again, emphases the two natures ofJesus. Jesus is God incarnate. Jesus is the Creator created! The God who is pleased to dwell among his creation. So the Arian heretics were partly correct to read "creation" into the text, but totally blind for denying that this same text clearly affirms that Jesus is God.
Jesus as the first in rank in his humanity has all the rights and privileges of a firstborn son. He is like the especially son of a monarch who would inherit ruling sovereignty. As the Psalmist prophesies, “I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth” [Psalm 89:27]
What does it mean for us that Jesus is our first rank over all creation? It means Jesus deserves all the highest honour, glory and praise above all things in creation. Nothing must compete in my life against him. This then is the death of all idols. Everyday I must ask the question, is Jesus first in my life today?
We might think of as life as a number. Jesus is represented by the number one. We can represent the rest of life by adding a zero for each blessing we receive from God. A good church , we add a zero (we have 10). A good education we add another zero (we have 100). And we can go on adding many blessings. We may end up with a number such as one trillion trillion that represents our full earthly life! But what happens when we remove the first number 1? We get a bunch of zeros!
No matter how many zeros you manage to accumulate, when you don’t have Jesus as your number 1. It is all worthless! And if Jesus is your number, why doubt, why the self focus, why the panic? We must trust Jesus as the firstborn. The very life of God among us. The God who has become a man for us! God through God the Spirit now lives within the walls of our hearts! And because God is living in us he is more than number 1. He is our everything!