Why the Supremacy of Christ Subsumes the Centrality of Christ
[Editor’s Note: Today’s blog is adapted from Student Ministry and the Supremacy of Christ by Richard Ross.]
When describing the supremacy (supreme power and authority) of God’s Son, Scripture points toward much more than what Christians commonly refer to as his centrality.
Of course, “centrality” remains an important Biblical concept. It characterizes a whole set of Jesus’ lordship claims. It affirms Jesus as the center of everything, meant to be in the middle of everything, surrounded by everything. And, that he is!
But “supremacy” takes a vision of him to a whole new level. Similar to “centrality,” his claims to “supremacy” rise from his very nature as God’s Son. But this dimension gives the Redeemer even higher homage. As supreme, the Lord is not only surrounded by everything, but he must also surround everything with himself. As Lord, he encompasses all within his rule.
Of course, Christians properly profess, “Jesus is the center of my life.” And that is true! But which Jesus is at the center of my life? That is the issue. Is it the one whose glory enfolds my life, and consumes my life, and defines my life because he alone thoroughly sums up my life in himself?
The Messiah that Christians follow is one who is both central and supreme, both intimate and infinite—a Sovereign who is wholly above them while at the same time wholly among them. This is how the Church today must see and seek him once again. This is how believers must speak of him once again. If believers are ever to recover fully all that his centrality holds it will be necessary to increase their emphasis on the place of his supremacy.
On one hand, centrality calls believers to let their lives be wrapped around who Jesus is. On the other hand, supremacy requires that their lives also be wrapped up into who Jesus is. Without question, there is a delightful difference between these two complementary positions.
Centrality is about Christ’s right to be kept at the center
of who we are, where we are headed, all we are doing, and how we are blessed.
Supremacy speaks of so much more.
It proclaims Christ’s right to keep us at the center
of who he is (focus), where he is headed (fulfillment),
what he is imparting (fullness), and how he is blessed (fervency).
Who Do You Say He Is?
Remember the debate the Twelve had about Jesus as they walked the roads of Caesarea Phillipi? They were responding to Jesus’ penetrating question (Matthew 16):“Who do you say that I am?” Finally, Peter answered with the familiar words, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But did he or the others really grasp the full implications of that brief sentence? Based on what many Scriptures teach about the meaning of those two titles—“the Christ” and “Son of the living God”—Peter’s response was equivalent to saying to the Lord Jesus:
• You are the Superlative One.
You will forever defy all human categories. No language is adequate to describe you. No analysis can fully record all the roles you must play to advance God’s ever-expanding kingdom (1 Peter 1).
• You are the Incomparable One.
You will forever remain in a class by yourself—no duplicates, no clones. Your importance will continue to eclipse all others, outranking every other being in heaven, earth, or hell. You will reign “world without end” (2 Thessalonians 1).
• You are the Exalted One.
For eternity, you will forever hold the primary focus of our praises, a position of unrivaled distinction, prestige, and majesty in the universe. You will be the joy of all peoples, worthy to receive every treasure, every dominion, and every ounce of praise (Revelation 5).
• You are the Preeminent One.
In time, in space, in history, and throughout eternity, you will forever lay claim to the universe. As you held the primacy at the beginning (“firstborn of creation,” Colossians 1), so you will at the end (“firstborn from among the dead,” Colossians 1). All things to come are your possession, to do with as your Father pleases.
• You are the Sufficient One.
Nothing will ever exhaust your power and resources. You require no “outsourcing.” You will forever prove totally adequate for all our longings, or fears, or needs, or heart cries. You are the final inheritance of each of God’s children (Philippians 3).
• You are the Triumphant One.
None of your enemies will prevail. You will defeat all foes unconditionally—both human and demonic—to emerge forever unthreatened, unhindered, and victorious over all opposition, permanently and forever. You are the everlasting Overcomer (Revelation 17).
• You are the Unifying One.
Bringing all things under your feet as Lord, you will permanently redeem and reconcile to the Godhead innumerable sinners from all the ages and all the nations. In the Consummation, all creation, as well as the Church itself, will be held together in perfect harmony by your irrevocable decrees and your indestructible might (Hebrews 1).
In another place, the Lord Jesus answered his own question when he said to John: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22). Not only was he at the beginning, he himself is the Beginning. Not only will he be waiting for believers at the end, he is the End.
All history streams from him and is directed toward him, to be completed by him. The eternal past has no other eternal future but Christ alone. There is only one in the entire universe of whom God has ever said without qualification: “In you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Thus Christ and Christ alone can insist on being the One to whom all supremacy (supreme power and authority) belongs, whose supremacy encompasses all.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:
In Jesus Christ the reality of God entered into the reality of this world …
Henceforth one can speak neither of God nor of the world without speaking of Jesus Christ.
All concepts of reality that do not take account of him are abstractions.
The implications of this outlook are extraordinarily life-giving.
- This vision enlarges the content of worship.
- It empowers moral perseverance within a decadent culture.
- It inspires renewed efforts at racial reconciliation, at reaching and serving the poor, at rearing godly children, at setting. Biblical priorities in spending, at performing with excellence on the job, or at spreading the gospel among the nations.
- It fills believers with abounding hope in God even in the darkest moments of the daily battle believers all face.
In this season of hope, those spreading hope must set out to convince fellow believers there is so much more—more that Christ deserves, more that he desires, more that he has designed, and more that he has decreed—and then get others praying and acting like it, filled with renewed anticipation. Hope is—and always has been—one of the most marvelous manifestations of Christ’s reign for a Christian, a congregation, or a nation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Richard Ross is a professor to the next generation of youth ministers at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He has authored many resources, including his latest, Youth Ministry That Lasts a Lifetime. You can connect with Richard on his website, Facebook, or Twitter.