Tuesday, April 5, 2011


George Goodman

The Pre-eminence of Christ

“That in all things He must have the pre-eminence.”—Colossians 1:18

That the Name of Jesus is the widest known, the best loved, indeed the outstanding name in the world, not even the bitterest opponent can deny. Its praises are sung without ceasing day and night. From every quarter of the globe ascend songs of gladness from the lips of those whose lives have been lightened with the knowledge of that Name.

It is in very fact the “Name that is above every name.” The press never stops printing books and tracts of which He is the theme; poets sing His praise in sacred poetry and in solemn hymns; artists find inspiration in the incidents of His life and death for their greatest masterpieces; daily tens of thousands of teachers and preachers go forth, often asking no reward, to proclaim His name and speak of His dying love. Martyrs triumphed in the flames or endured patiently in dungeons, and unnumbered hosts have suffered the loss of all things for love of His Name, desiring only the privilege of spending and being spent for His sake. There is no sphere of human life or activity in which His Name is not the one of greatest influence and power for righteousness and goodness.

Even science must confess Him as the One Who taught it to love truth and hate hypocrisy and superstition, to judge righteous judgment, for on these does all true science depend.

It is a tremendous claim that in ALL things He must have the pre-eminence, but the wonderful truth is that it must be accorded to Him. Nothing noble, beautiful or worthy in the world exists that must not ascribe to Him the first place in influence and power.

He is the Outstanding Figure in History; the Greatest Person in the World of Men; He is, to use His own words, which express better than any others this exalted claim, “the Light of the World.”

Where is any rival? Who will come forward to dispute the fact that even now in this sin-troubled world that rejects Christ’s claim, He is the First, the Pre-eminent One?

But His pre-eminence is something far greater than all this. True, His place of influence in the world is assured as the first and the highest, but there are glories far beyond this in which He stands out pre-eminent and alone.

1. The Dignity of His Person

As John Bunyan wrote: “This One hath not His fellow,” for though He is spoken of as “God’s fellow” (Zech. 13:7) and also is not ashamed to call His people brethren, yet none can claim as He to be both God and Man.

This was the outstanding wonder of all God’s purposes, His greatest work, the great Mystery of Godliness, that He who was Himself God should be manifested in flesh, should be found in fashion as a man.

There have been great men in the world who have won fame and renown and whose names are honoured and beloved; but all must give way to Him Who is more than Man, the Lord, the Heir of all things, the Creator and Upholder of the universe.

2. His Sinless Life and Perfect Character

He must be accorded pre-eminence in this also, that in a world of sinners He alone was without sin. The holiest of the sons of men have been the first to acknowledge their sinfulness and how far short they fall of the glory of God, for “there is no man that sinneth not,” and “in many things we offend all” except One, and He stands out preeminent in holiness and sinless purity.

Though meek and lowly in heart, He never confessed to sin nor apologized for failure. He only could face His fellow-men and say: “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” His character was perfect in all virtue. We do not think of Him as we do of other men, as being distinguished for some particular quality. He had all in perfect balance.

If a circular disc be painted with the colours of the rainbow in equal proportions, when it is spun round it will appear white, for the rainbow is but a pure white light split by a prism into its component hues. So in Christ all the virtues are in such perfect proportion that as seen in Him none stands out above others; all are merged in perfect white—the beauty of holiness.

3. The Nobility of His Death

Many men have died noble deaths, have laid down their lives gloriously, and their memory is precious to us; but which of them will we place in comparison with the solemn scene on Calvary?

There was in that death something with which no other could compare. It was a Substitutionary Sacrifice for Sin, such as only a Sinless Victim could offer. Unlike other men who came into the world to live, the Lord Jesus came to die, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. His life was incidental to His death. That dark scene was ever before Him, and when the hour was come He voluntarily laid down His life, no man taking it from Him, except in so far as they fulfilled the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.

It was not the love of it, though that was great, or the patient endurance of the physical torture, or the example of suffering wrongfully, or the tenderness of the seven utterances on the Cross, that gave it its pre-eminence. It was the sacrificial character that did so. “Christ died for our sins.” None other could have done this. His death, the Just for the unjust to bring us to God, gives Him in this also the unchallengeable pre-eminence. Mahomet is sometimes quoted as a rival to Christ in his influence on men. Let us contrast the death of each.

Mahomet died in a warlike camp, while he was making preparation for an unprovoked attack on a tribe which had done him no wrong, but upon which he had resolved to force his religion at the point of the sword. Ere his bloodthirsty purpose could be carried out he died in the arms of one of his many wives, with the noise of battle preparation in his ears.

Now let us turn our eyes to Calvary and hear the gracious words, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,” as thus the Son of God prayed for those who slew Him.

4. The Glory of His Resurrection

In this He has the pre-eminence, as the first who has risen triumphant over death and the grave. There are seven cases recorded in the Bible of those who were called back from death; but only for a season—they died again, death would not yield up its claim.

But the Lord Jesus is the First Begotten from the dead, for it was not possible that He should beholden of death. He dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.

Now is Christ risen and become the First fruits of them that sleep.

5. The Purity of His Teaching

There have been moralists and teachers in the world, but never one whose doctrine was perfect. Amidst much that was good there was much of falsehood, a great deal that was mere theory, often false sentiment and untrustworthy exaggeration. Each can be heard only in part; to none can a whole obedience be rendered.

But the Lord Jesus stands out pre-eminent in this, that no word He ever spoke can be challenged as untrue, or false in sentiment, or weak in expression, or unreliable as a guide in life. Authority is stamped on every word.

Grace and truth in perfect balance are found in all He said and did. Search those words such as never man spake and you will find nothing light or careless; nothing sentimental or foolish; nothing uncertain or hesitating; nothing proud or puffed up; in bold denunciation of evil nothing cruel or unfair; in gracious words to the sinful, no excuse for or palliation of sin.

The beauty of the words is unequalled in all literature; the convicting power of them is absent from other writings. What comfort for the weary; what hope for the sinful; what wise counsel for the direction of life; what solemn warning to the rebel; what promises for the seeker; what assurance for the believer; what prospects for the future! Search the myriad books of the world and see if any can hold a candle to this pre-eminent of all teachers.

6. The Wonder of His Salvation

It was said of Him at His birth, “He shall save His people from their sins.” What a unique and outstanding claim! Did any man ever propose to save another from his sins? It cannot be done. In this, then, He must have the preeminence.

Yet the claim is true. Thousands of millions since the angel spoke those words to Mary have testified of Him that He has saved them from their sins. Well might the prophet of old ask, “Where is any other that can save you?”

Mothers would willingly die if by so doing they could recall a prodigal son to the path of purity. Fathers would gladly pay their last penny if salvation could thereby be purchased for a wayward child.

Only One has ever been able to say to the believer, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

How hopeless would this sin-stricken world be if there were no Saviour for sinners! But there is One, and only One. It is He Who has in this, as in all else, the pre-eminence.

He Himself put forward this extraordinary claim in unmistakable terms, “I am the Door; by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved.” “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh to the Father but by Me.”

What other could bid his fellow-men, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”? On the lips of any other that would be outrageous nonsense.

And such a word as this, who else dare utter it?— “I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and he that liveth and believeth on Me shall never die.”

Yet One stood among us Who uttered these words in all sincerity and gentleness. We must ascribe to Him the preeminence.

7. His Glory as Head of the Church

When He walked this earth in humiliation, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, He said, “I will build My Church.” He foretold its course, a stormy, persecuted one, hated of all men, yet overcoming and spreading to all parts of the earth, until an innumerable company that no man can number should be gathered out of every tribe and kindred and nation, forming an invisible spiritual organism of which He Himself would be the unseen yet living Head; in which the Holy Spirit Whom He would send from the Father should abide as in a temple, sanctifying and guiding it in its course in the world.

This He has brought about, so that something unknown before in the history of the world has appeared. A company of redeemed and saved people, unlimited by nationality or language, having a common life, confessing His Name, and walking in love and good works—yet persecuted and downtrodden, but triumphing over all in His Name.

In this as in all else He has the pre-eminence.

Taken From: Seventy Lessons in Teaching and Preaching Christ.


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