Today’s Reading: John 18:1-19:42
And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, 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, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:18-20)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus is the firstborn. But wait, that sounds like a Christmas statement, not a Good Friday statement. But it is also a Good Friday thing to say. Not only was Jesus the firstborn of the Virgin Mary; but He is also the only-begotten Son of God. Colossians refers to Him as the firstborn from the dead. Revelation 1:5 says that Jesus is the “firstborn of the dead.” Jesus is the firstborn, and Jesus died. The only-begotten of God, who is God in the flesh, died. Those are powerful words that don’t always make a lot of sense to us. After all, how can God die?
That’s not something that can be explained rationally. It can only be confessed. God took on flesh, and according to His human nature, He died. That doesn’t mean that just the “human part” of Jesus died: Everything that is true of the human nature of Jesus is also true of the divine nature of Jesus. Jesus died. He is the firstborn of the dead. He is the most important person, who died for you so that you are His dear child. Colossians uses the word “preeminent” to say this. “Preeminent” can be understood as “most important” or “in the most important place.”
Exodus 13 talks about the sacrifice that needed to be made for a firstborn son. It was necessary to redeem a firstborn son by the sacrifice of a lamb. You are now all the firstborn who have had the Lamb of God sacrificed for you to redeem you. That’s what’s necessary for you.
That promise is unchanging. From the day that Jesus hung on the Cross until now, to the day when Jesus returns in the resurrection, nothing will change the fact that He is the One who was and who is and who is to come. As you observe Jesus’ death today, remember that this reality is for you, now and always. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Your cords of love, my Savior, Bind me to You forever, I am no longer mine. To You I gladly tender All that my life can render And all I have to You resign. (“Upon the Cross Extended” LSB 453, st.6)
-Rev. Peter Ill is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Millstadt, IL.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Learn more about your favorite hymns and find the deeper meaning behind the text with Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns. The book includes devotional commentary and historical facts from forty different contributing authors on fifty different hymns. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.