“We love Him because He first loved us.” – [1 John 4:19].
As the hearts and roses of Valentine’s Day again fill shelves and houses, I remember my first love, the author of my life, and the rock of my salvation – Jesus. My husband and I have some celebratory Valentine’s outings planned and, as we spend time enjoying God’s creation together, we remember that our capacity to love is influenced by how much of God’s love we experience. God’s love towards us helps us to love God, and to love each other more every day. Jesus is the firstborn in God’s household, the head of the church. He teaches us to love God and love each other.
It is not just love that God teaches us, but every aspect of His character. The Bible describes Jesus as the “firstborn over all creation“, the “firstborn from the dead” [Colossians 1:15, 18]. So, what is Jesus’ firstborn nature like? And how does it influence our lives as co-heirs with Him in God’s eternal kingdom?
FIRSTBORN OVER CREATION
Jesus is firstborn over creation because He existed before creation. He is firstborn over creation in that He has authority over it all. Consider [John 1:1-4]
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And also, [Psalm 8:6-8]
“You have made him to have dominion over all the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen –
Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.”
Knowing Jesus as the firstborn over creation means that we acknowledge His existence before the creation of the world. It means we recognise his authority and right to direct the ways of all creation. It demands that we submit to Him in all of our ways.
FIRSTBORN FROM THE GRAVE
Jesus is also firstborn from the grave. In His resurrection, He obtained salvation for all who would believe in Him. The salvation of Christ provides for the family of Christ in that we are made heirs of this heavenly inheritance. Traditionally, the firstborn in a family was responsible for ensuring his household was provided for. Jesus does this for the household of God through redemption by His blood on the cross. In this way, we are bought into the family, and into the provision of God’s household.
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will…” – [Ephesians 1:11]
FIRSTBORN IN HIS FAMILY
As both God and man, Jesus was firstborn not only in the things of heaven, but also physically in a human family. Jesus was Mary and Joseph’s first son. Like many firstborns, he must have experienced the pressures and expectations of being the first child. Yet, Jesus fulfilled His calling in God, not only on the cross, but as the firstborn in His family. One of the most notable examples is in how Jesus ensured his mother was provided for even while He was dying on the cross.
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” – [19:25-27]
Another example is how Jesus led his younger siblings. James, one of the apostles, was Jesus’ brother [Galatians 1:19]. As children of God, but also children in a natural family, part of our calling is to love and care for our family and our church.
Jesus’s firstborn nature is conceived out of love. Out of this love, creation was birthed. Out of this love, salvation was won. Out of this love, we learn to love one another, and out of this love, we become heirs of God’s inheritance. [1 John 5:18-20] tells us more about what we gain through this:
“We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but that he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
As co-heirs with Christ, and children of God, Jesus can be like our big brother. He loves us, leads us, and helps us to walk in the fullness of God, the Father. He teaches us how to deal with different situations as we mature in our faith. He shows us how to overcome by his example. Jesus, the firstborn, commands our respect, our worship and our love because this is exactly who He is – firstborn, and the very image of the invisible God. This Valentine’s day, let us remember the greatness of God’s love towards us, and pour out our love unto Him.