Christ's Glory as Head of the Covenant of Grace
In a culture where many religions compete in the marketplace of ideas and in the hearts of religiously inclined human beings, Christ’s glory shines most brilliantly. As the Head of the covenant of grace, His glory is unparalleled.
No other religion has an equivalent. Take, for instance, Muhammad, the final messenger of Allah whom every devout Muslim confesses faithfully. His life was vital for the establishment of Islam, both in supplying the sacred text and setting the standard for the calendar year. But what is the exact relationship between a devout Muslim and Muhammad? Nothing compared to the Christian and Christ. As Head of the covenant of grace, Christ is the very life of Christianity, the One sent by the Father into the world and believed on to the salvation of God’s people.
Three passages from Colossians demonstrate this aspect of Christ’s glory. Each develops an aspect of Christ’s unique relationship with God and highlights His pre-eminence in the covenant of grace.
The first verse is Colossians 1:15, which states Christ’s unique relationship to God in terms of “imaging the invisible.” This harks back to the original creation of man “in God’s image” (Gen. 1:27) with one very important difference: Christ imaged God before anything was made, while God was yet “invisible,” but man imaged God as the climax of creation in which God showed His glory. Flowing from this, the verses that follow establish Christ’s headship in all covenant domains.
Next, consider Colossians 2:9-10. Verse 9 states Christ’s unique relationship to God in terms of “bodily housing God’s fullness.” You will recall at the completion of the tabernacle, God’s glory descended upon it and filled it (Ex. 40:34-35). Paul says God’s Shekinah has found its lasting abode in the Person of Christ. Why is it lasting and final? Because it is “bodily!” As covenant Head, Christ took on human flesh and filled it with the divine glory sinners could never have achieved.
Thus verse 10 says believers find their “completion.” Believers “married” to Christ are filled with the glory of their Head.
Finally, in Colossians 3:1-4, Paul emphasizes Christ’s location – His physical placement “above” and “on the right hand of God.” The Promised Land of Canaan was of great importance as a guide for the affections of the Old Testament church. Yet, their experience of that land was checkered at best. Paul now says that the Promised Land is occupied! While Moses came up short of entering the earthly Promised Land, Christ, as Head of the covenant of grace, has entered the Promised Land “above.” There He “hides” His people in Himself, keeping them safe on their life’s journey and, through His Spirit, giving them the down-payment for their entry.
This brilliant aspect of Christ’s glory has many applications for us, as it did for the Colossians. In a religiously pluralistic and religiously ungodly world, it gives the believer coherence. Christ as the Head serves as the starting point for His people as they face those who deny Him. Sadly, though unwittingly, Christ’s covenant headship is even the starting point of those who challenge and reject Him.
In the light of Christ’s headship Scripture is fully illuminated. The parts serve to illumine the whole, and the whole gives unique insight to the parts.
And it leads to lasting Christian experience. The believer’s love for the “image of the invisible God” will last; the believer’s faith is solid on Him in whom “the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily,” and the believer’s hope is carried by Him who “sits on the right hand of God.”