5 Stages of the Exaltation of Jesus
While Jesus’ humiliation represents life here on this side of eternity, the exaltation represents what life will someday be like for those who believe in Jesus. When we arrive at v9 in Phil 2:5-11 there is a shift in the text, and the shift comes in the form of transitioning us from the humiliation of Christ to His exaltation.
How did God exalt Jesus? 5 ways.
The exaltation of Christ began as soon as He left His burial clothes in the tomb, that now stands as empty. We all know what the resurrection was, but why does it matter?
a) Eternal life is now secured for all who believe in Jesus (John 11:25-26). b) Our faith is not futile (1 Cor. 15:17). c) We are no longer in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17). d) We will not perish when we die (1 Cor. 15:18). e) We are not to be pitied at all in our suffering, for one day it will end (1 Cor. 15:19). f) As 1 Cor. 15 continues we rejoice, that the last enemy (death) had died.
This is not just a doctrine to be known, this is the resounding ‘Yes’ that Jesus reigns over all things. The resurrection of Jesus and the Spirit that raised Him from the dead is the same power we now have for living the Christian life here as well as the assurance that one day we will also rise from death just as Jesus did.
The ascension is when Jesus returned to heaven from earth. It is still to this day and will be for all days the most important political moment in all history, because in this one act Jesus not only ascended, but He ascended to a throne, on which He sat down to rule and reign over all things. Why does this matter?
a) It means that Jesus will always be in heaven interceding for us (Heb. 7:25). b) It means that Jesus will always be the human representative in heaven (1 John 2:1-2). c) Because He ascended we too shall rise one day to be with Him (Rom. 6:5). d) Because He ascended He can prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3). e) Because He ascended He can send the Holy Spirit to us (John 16:7). f) When we get to heaven, we will not meet a great being who we cannot relate with, we will meet a human face with nail scarred hands (Heb. 4:15).
Reign at God’s Right Hand
After His ascension Jesus went to a specific place in heaven, to the right hand of God. The right hand of God is the symbolic place of power, honor, distinction, and prestige. That means He is now ruling and reigning over His kingdom, waiting to come back again to take us there. He is not done with His ministry because He has gone to the throne, He continues it to this very moment as we’re here in this room. Why does this matter? Sometimes circumstances in life make us think that God is not in control, but we should learn from this that Jesus is always in control of all things at all moments. He orders all things that come into our lives. If bad things happen to us, think of this. Think of this along with verses like Romans 8:28. That will show us that Jesus is letting these things happen to us for a good reason. God does not call us to rejoice in the bad things themselves, but He does call us to rejoice in the fact that He orders our trouble and pain for good reasons. He wants us to trust that He is in fact on the throne, reigning, and ruling during these times. As Psalm 29 says, ‘He sat as King at the flood, He sits as King forever.’
After Jesus’ reign on the throne, when the time is right, He will return. Unlike His first advent when He came as Savior, in His second and final advent He will come as Judge. 2 Thess. 1:10 says that Jesus will come again to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at by all who have believed in Him. Why does this matter?
a) He will come in great glory, and everyone on earth will know that Jesus is in fact who He said He was. God over all, King, and Lord of the universe (Phil. 2:10-11). b) Everyone who opposed Him or did not believe in Him will be judged, be found wanting, and sent to eternal torments forever (Matt. 25:31). c) Everyone who loves Him and who believed in Him, will be judged, be found righteous, not because of what we have but because of what Jesus has done. The Christians who are dead will rise first and then those who are still left here on earth will fly away to Jesus, our home, life, rest, and peace (1 Thess. 4:16).
After all these things, the resurrection, the ascension, the reign at God’s right hand, and the 2nd coming, Jesus’ exaltation continues on into eternity. The earth will be changed and remade into the New Heavens and the New Earth, or the New Jerusalem and it in our song will forever be about the Lamb receiving the reward, the glory, the honor, the praise, for His suffering. There will be no sun, or lights of any kind, Jesus will be our light and lamp and life forever and ever. This is the goal of all history, His glory that has been displayed in various ways through the history of redemption will be then and forever displayed for all to see, and we will feast upon His matchless and infinite delight forever and ever. (Rev. 5:9-13)
For the past two posts I’ve covered the humiliation and exaltation of Christ. There are many things we could glean as we bring this week to a close, but see this. Since this u-shaped pattern of downward humiliation and upward exaltation was true for Jesus’ life, and since He’s the head of the Church, see here the pattern for all Christians. Why do we think life will be any different for us if life was like this for our Savior? When follow the same pattern, therefore any teaching that seeks to reverse such a u-shaped trajectory by stating that we as Christians should expect to be exalted, promoted, blessed financially, etc, should be rejected as false. See in Jesus what life will bring to us.
The best is not now, for the Christian, the best is always yet to come.
(Image courtesy of Gilbert Lennox Photography)