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The Exaltation of Jesus

by Julius Hovan

Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

Welcome to the Words of Life broadcast. We are so glad you have tuned in today. We hope you will let others know about this broadcast and maybe invite them to hear a message from the Word of God and hear some beautiful Christian music and be able to bring honor and glory to our wonderful Lord Jesus.

I am going to read a text this morning and use that to share a message and we hope and believe that it will be a blessing to you because it speaks to us about the Lord Jesus. Listen to what it says. In the book of Philippians, to the church at Philippi, Paul wrote these words in the second chapter beginning with verse five, and he is trying to encourage them and to hold up the Lord Jesus.

Philippians two verse five and following, “Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.  Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Now that, my friends, is the Word of God.  The event described in these verses is normally dealt with on the day of ascension when some folks commemorate that special event.  Generally in the church we make a great deal of Christmas, the birth of Jesus and the babe in the manger or of the events surrounding the crucifixion and the passion week and the cross, and of course, Easter, the resurrection and we exalt in the empty tomb and it is right to do all of those things.  But there is this matter that is talked about in this passage of Scripture and that is the exultation of Jesus.

I would suggest to you that there are four great events in the life of Christ where we see the deeds done either by Jesus or to Jesus.  There is, of course, his birth, he came and he was sent by the Father. There is his death, he gave himself and was offered up as a sacrifice.  There is his resurrection, he arose. He was raised on the third day taking up his life again. Then there is his ascension, we call it, his going back to heaven. He ascended and in that he was exalted.   We won’t dwell on it this morning, but it is such a joy to think about. I wonder what the scene was when Jesus left the earth after being here for those 30 plus years and went back to glory. Can you just picture the angels leaning down out of heaven, lined up waiting for the Son of God to come back?  What a picture that must have been.

And so in the birth and death of Jesus there is the choice to come, to be born, to give himself. In the last two we see the work of the Father and the Son together as he takes up his life again and then goes back to heaven.

This passage of Scripture makes something clearer, though even the greatest of theologians are not sure what all it involved when it said he emptied himself.  He surely emptied himself of something that we could not see here upon the sinful earth. He humbled himself.  He submitted himself even to the point of being a servant and going to the cross. But then he was exalted. The humbling was his. He came and did all of that willingly. When he completed the task to which his Father had called him, he now was able to carry on the work.  Having completed that work he was able to go back into glory.

I would suggest as we consider this interesting topic today, his exaltation is supreme. Notice, he is highly exalted.  He is super exalted above all, not just high, but supreme. He has the name above every name. Well, the name here is not the name Jesus. He got that name before his birth.

In the Old Testament the name of the Lord, when it speaks of that, means the majesty of his person. We sing: Praise the name of the Lord. It doesn’t mean take the name of Jehovah and praise it. But we praise him, who he is. We praise his majesty. And so this supreme name is given to Jesus. It refers to his rank and his title and his dignity which surpasses all others.

J. R. Stott wrote these words, I quote, “The name of Jesus is not just one in a catalog of the world’s great men.  The portrait of Jesus is not just one in the portrait gallery of famous men.  The rank of Jesus is not to be compared with any other rank. He is supreme, unique, unrivaled, peerless.”  Do we begin to see the picture so well written by Mr. Stott?

The apostle Paul told the church at Ephesus in Ephesians chapter one verses 20 and 21, referring to the work of Christ. He says:  “That which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places.” Look where he put him. “Far above all rule and all authority and all power and all dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age, but in that age which is to come.”

Can anything be any clearer, my friends?  The exultation of Jesus is indeed supreme.  So it is not enough for me or for you today to talk about Jesus. Oh, he was a good man. He sure was a great teacher.  Sure was an honest fellow, ran a good carpenter shop.

All of those things are true. My friends, you name any name and the name, the character of Jesus is always greater.  You describe any rank and the rank of Jesus is always higher. It is supreme.

Now we do well to ask ourselves the question. He has been exalted. That is a fact.  The statement is coming from God himself and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the words of Paul that his exultation is supreme, none higher. Did he deserve that?  Yes. His exaltation is indeed merited.

The ninth verse reuses the word wherefore. And it is that word that tells us his exaltation was not some arbitrary act. He got a promotion because he is kin to the boss as sometimes happen in business or whatever it might be.  No. This was not the whim of a divine dictator. This exaltation was merited.

Let me give you some examples. You remember when Peter came to the house of Cornelius and Cornelius fell down before him?  Peter said, “Stand up. Don’t do that. I myself also am a man.” Peter refused the worship of Cornelius.

Over in the book of Revelation when the apostle John fell at the feet of an angel, a heavenly being, what does the angel do? Does he accept that worship? Does he accept that praise?  No, the angel responded, “See that you do not do it. I am your fellow servant.”  Listen. “Worship God.”   I do not merit. I am not worthy. Peter was not. I am not. Even an angel does not deserve such a high place.

When the inhabitants of the city of Lystra wanted to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, because they had seen them perform some great miracles, they began to come and cast down before them and worship them thinking they were gods.  Paul and Barnabas tore their garments in horror and said, “We are men of like passions with you.”

And so over and over we see this happening. Do you remember Thomas? The disciples, following the resurrection of Jesus, had gone to the upper room, scared to death of what was going to happen to them. Thomas wasn’t there and Jesus appeared and later they told Thomas about it and he said, “I am not going to believe until I see him.”  And the next week they are meeting again and there among them is Thomas and here comes Jesus and when Thomas sees him and Jesus holds out that pierced hand and shows Thomas the hole in his side, Thomas fell down and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”

And Jesus accepted that worship. It is his right. His rank merits such worship.  Peter didn’t accept it.  Paul and Barnabas didn’t accept it. John did not accept it from man. Jesus did.

If you are familiar with the book of Hebrews it is a book written to demonstrate the superiority of Jesus. The book will tell you he is superior over angels. He is superior over prophets. He is superior over Moses and Aaron and even Melchizedek, the superiority of the Lord Jesus. His exaltation is merited, because he is superior.

Paul writing to the church in the first chapter of the book of Colossians begins with verse 16 in chapter one talking about Jesus.  “In him were all things created in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things have been created through him and unto him and he was and is before all things and in him all things hold together.”

Do you get the picture there, my friends, that this one who is now connected with the creation of the world, he, indeed, himself is that creator? He is supreme without any doubt as we well know.

In our verse here in Philippians we see the great spiritual principle taught in another passage of Scripture when he said, “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and he will exalt you.” In due time that happens. If we will humble ourselves before God today, if we will take the lesser position today, if we will have a servant spirit today, if we will be people of faith and service and obedient today, in due time just as Jesus was exalted by the Father, likewise, so will we.

Notice, Jesus humbled himself.  God exalted him.  Think what he sacrificed, what he gave up, his home in glory, the presence of his heavenly Father, the singing of the hymns and praises of the angels, the purity of the celestial place that we call heaven, all the glory that is there.  Think what he sacrificed. Think what he suffered.  He came to live in poverty and hardship and loneliness.  Who was more misunderstood than Jesus? The scorn and rejection even in his own family and then the whip and the thorns and the cross and then the burden of sin, the guilt of a whole world put upon his shoulders as he hung on Calvary’s tree. Think what he sacrificed. Think what he suffered. Think what he achieved.

Here it comes. The defeat of the devil himself, salvation for sinners, perfection and eternal glory for all who receive him and live faithfully for him.  No wonder the word wherefore is there. He has been humbled to the deepest shame, but because of all he achieved, all he suffered, all he sacrificed, he has been exalted to the very highest heights of glory. He is supreme in his exaltation.  And it is merited. He is worthy and so we talk as we bring this lesson to its conclusion that his exaltation is demanding and I would hope that you would try to sense this as we look again at this text.

It gives us a statement. What? God highly exalted him.  It gives a reason. Why did God highly exalt him?  All of these things we have just talked about.  But verse 10 gives us this application.   You say, “What does this have to do, then, with me as an individual, especially as a Christian?”
What is it? That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow. Your knee, you should.

You say, “Well, I don’t have to. I don’t want to. I don’t even believe in Jesus.”   Is it possible somebody listening to this broadcast would have that attitude?.  Those of us who have humbled ourselves and become Christians, we have bowed our knee to the Lord in a very real way, to be sure.  This demand has little to do with the bending of the knee or the confession of the tongue.  God is concerned with our will, the will is behind that knee.  Why did the knee bend? What about that heart that is connected to that tongue?   Does the bowed knee and the loose tongue indicate the bending of our proud will? We are going to give up our will like Jesus gave up his.  Our hearts that were cold toward God have been warmed?

Have you ever made that profession of faith? Have you ever looked into the Word of God to find what it tells you about Jesus and what he has done? Or are you still stiff necked and stiff kneed?

Jesus was obedient and so must we learn to be.  Disobedience is very unbecoming and God does not honor it at all.

May I conclude by telling you something very, very important? There is no exception to this demand. Did you hear what it said? How many knees? Every knee shall bow. That is yours, my friend.  You don’t want to do it today.  Well, you have that right. You have that choice. You are a free will agent.

Paul in writing this passage of scripture, quotes from the book of Isaiah similar words, Isaiah 45 verses 22 and 23.   “Look unto me and be saved, all you ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else. By myself have I sworn. The word has gone forth from my mouth in righteousness and shall not return.” Now here it comes: “That unto me every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear or confess.”

And so it is, you one day will do that.  Have you ever come to Christ? Have you accepted him as Savior and Lord? Are you resisting his call? Are you running from this wonderful life? Why not do voluntarily now what you will one day be compelled to do. You will one day bow the knee to Christ.

Those who are opposed to missions need to understand. That is why we deliver the gospel through Words of Life or through missionaries, so that people can hear.  For the Christian we need to have that humble spirit. How bent is your knee, your heart, your mind, your will?  Can you be more whole hearted regarding the Lord?  He is worthy. He desires it. He demands it. Jesus certainly is worthy of that.  If we will bow before him now, we will do so without any regret now or through the ages of eternity.

-Julius Hovan lives in Harrodsburg, KY and preaches for the Bohon Church of Christ

 




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33