April 23, 2017
Another week has come and gone. And during that time, we all lived out our lives. Some of us studied for classes while others of us paid some bills. Some of us enjoyed being with family or friends while others of us stopped to plan for the future. And so another week has come and gone - another week in a world that is passing away.
Meanwhile, up in heaven, another week has come and gone as well. But up there, far greater things are happening. It is there that angels continue to long to look into things that have been announced to us (1 Peter 1:12). It is there that the saints of old surround us as a great a cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).
And meanwhile, it is there that one person is preparing a place for you right now. One person there sits at the right hand of the Father. One person there cares for you and intercedes for you. One person there has for you a seat at a royal banqueting table with your name on it. And one person there, more than anyone else, is looking forward to seeing you face to face. I am talking about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And right now, up in heaven, he is highly exalted.
Why is Jesus exalted? He became a human being. He paid for our sins with his body and blood. He secured a righteousness and an obedience for us. He achieved what Adam and all of us could not. Therefore, because of all of this, God has highly exalted him.
Praise the Lord! Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne! Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Jesus Christ is highly exalted.
But what is interesting about this exaltation is why the Apostle Paul mentions it here in his letter to the Philippians. The church in Philippi struggled with unity. Members were not looking to the interests of others. And we’ll find out later that two women in particular had a major disagreement about something. But in the midst of this mess, Paul reminded the church of something that you wouldn’t normally come across in a conflict resolution class or a pastoral counseling meeting with a married couple or a seminar about relationships and unity. Paul reminded the church about the exaltation of Christ.
How does the exaltation of Christ apply to our relationships? Well, it works like this. When we remember Christ’s exaltation, we forget about ours. When we remember Christ’s exaltation, we are humbled, knowing that we are not the exalted one, knowing that all the glory rightfully belongs to God and God alone. When we remember Christ’s exaltation, we see that meanwhile, up in heaven, a far greater thing is happening - a thing that makes our fights and worries and divisions and struggles so small and silly in light of the big picture.
Consider this. We who are married may not want our spouses to merely respect us or cherish us. We want our spouses to bow the knee. Meanwhile, God has highly exalted Christ, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.
Consider this. We who are students and workers may not want our friends or coworkers to merely get along with us. We want people around us to honor our name. Meanwhile, God has highly exalted Christ and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.
Brothers and sisters, this is what I am trying to say. When we struggle with unity or go through problems in our relationships with people, we need to be reminded of the exaltation of Christ.
As you struggle to give someone a second chance, may you remember that Christ was exalted in his resurrection, and that he rose again from the dead to a new life.
As you catch yourself putting someone down, may you remember that Christ was exalted in his ascension, and that he visibly went up into the highest heavens.
As you wish your enemies ill will, may you remember that Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of the Father, and that he intercedes for you and cares for you.
As you judge and condemn others, may you remember that Christ will be exalted in his coming again, and that he will come back to judge the world with power and glory.
Brothers and sisters, consider the ultimate future. One day, you will be in heaven. And when you sit down at the royal banqueting table of Christ and behold his kingship and majesty, I guarantee you that your struggles with your in-laws and your breakdowns with your college friendships and your fights with your spouses or family members and your differences with people at church will all be quite small. One day, we will be in heaven. And when we enjoy the glorious sabbath rest in a place without suffering or crying or pain or death, I bet we will wonder about why we fought so much.
Brothers and sisters, this future is coming. This story is far greater than yours. Your kingdom will have to give way to a far bigger one. So in light of the exaltation of Christ, I ask you: Are you going to waste your life being unable to get along with others? I hope not. Are you ever going to get over yourself? I hope so. God has highly exalted Christ, and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. All of history is rushing forward to this finality of Christ’s exaltation. And meanwhile, all of sin and disunity and pride and relationship problems is rushing away from it. And it is a loser’s game. Remember Esau, who traded away a future with Christ for a bowl of soup? Don’t do that. For the love of Christ’s exaltation, don’t do that. Remember the disciples, who disputed over which one of them was the greatest? Don’t do that. For the love of our coronated king, don’t do that. Instead, I urge you to turn away from the things of this world and the trappings of winning arguments and putting down others. Instead, be like Abraham, who looked forward to the city of God. Instead, be like Moses, who considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt. Instead, be like Joseph, who forgave his brothers at the end.
In closing, let us end with the mind of Christ. I dare you to consider his point of view right now. For as we strive to set our mind on things that are above, it is truly heart-warming that Christ has set his mind on things that are below - on you. Do you struggle to think about Jesus? Know that Jesus does not struggle to think about you. And I dare say that although Jesus is indeed God, there is something that he has yet to experience. There is something new that awaits him. While in his divinity, Jesus knows you truly and perfectly, meanwhile, in his humanity, he has not yet met you. I tell you the truth, the Lord Jesus Christ is looking forward to meeting you face to face one day.
Yes, God has highly exalted him. But meanwhile, he stands ready to exalt you. Yes, he has the name that is above every name. But meanwhile, he looks forward to saying your name out loud and in front of you. Yes, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. But meanwhile, he will serve you with all his heart, soul, strength and mind until the final day.