I began my 14th year of homeschooling yesterday.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that good starts aren’t enough to sustain me through these years.
Today, my books are organized by subject and date needed. My lesson plans are thoughtfully prepared. The markers all have caps, and each one denotes the appropriate color inside of it.
In two months, I’ll be fishing pencils out of the cat box and may or may not be able to locate all of my children.
No, our great intentions and beginnings don’t always equal great endings. We must start with something more powerful than will and ways.
In Colossians 1:18, the Apostle Paul writes a curious sentence: He, Jesus, is the firstborn – prototokos — from the dead, so that in everything He might be preeminent — proteuo, or hold first place.
It’s a redundant little bit of wordplay. He is the first, so that He might be the first.
The former part of this sentence actually contains an important theological name of Christ. He is the “firstborn from the dead,” Paul says. He is the first to smash death by His own mighty power, ushering in a new age where we dare to hope for our own resurrection as well.
The word proteuo, a verb translated as “He might be preeminent,” appears only once in the Bible, right here. It means “be the highest, the winner, at the top of the podium.”
So, Christ is the first to defeat death so that He might rank number one in all things.
In ancient culture, to remove the firstborn from his place was to destroy the natural order of things, the way in which inheritance and stability and values were passed down. Like the final and most terrible plague in Eqypt, destruction of the firstborn is a sign of the greatest upheaval — the ultimate blow to peace.
Satan, whom the most ancient book of the Bible calls the firstborn of death, has been out to dethrone the Firstborn from the Dead from the beginning.
And he accomplishes it for a time in the world to the extent he accomplishes it in our hearts. Satan blinds us to Christ’s defeat of death by overwhelming us with the decay around us.
He shadows the final divine order of all things by focusing my eyes on the temporary disorder.
From markers with no caps
to plans that go awry
to covenants that aren’t kept
to people who cut my soul.
I am weakened, disheartened by so much decay — much of it my own failure to keep promises and faith.
The firstborn of death already knows he comes in last. Listening to his whispers, I feel like I do, too.
But the Firstborn from the Dead has already won. He is the Resurrection and the Life, the One who has dealt the final blow to suffering and pain and disorder and good but unfinished intentions.
It doesn’t matter that I stumble and that others in my life do, too. He has destroyed the last enemy and shattered the power of all the tiny deaths of my days.
One moment of meditating on the true Firstborn — one move to put Him back in first place at the beginning of my hours — one taste of the power of the resurrection — orders all the disorder in my world. He has conquered death so that He might have the preeminence in all things, including times when I forget eternal life is on the way.
I make His resurrection first so He might become the first in my heart and all other worries might be last.
His triumph over death is the starting place that sustains me to the end. I may limp to the finish, but I win. He waits there for me, His trophy in hand.
I will stand, ragged and shining and radiant with victory, in first place with the Firstborn from the Dead.
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:4-6
Read the next post in The Colossians Project.
featured image by Joel Zimmer.
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