Christ's Exaltation, Part 2
March 1, 2020
Christ’s Exaltation: Part 2, 3.1.20
A warm welcome to everyone in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you are a guest with us this morning, I especially welcome you. Our mission here at CBC is to know Christ and to make him known. That is why exist. That is why we gather. If your life goal is to know Christ and to make him known and you are looking for a church home, there are several us here who would love to get to know you better. If you want more information about our church, you can go to the welcome desk after service. There will be someone there who can help him learn more about our church and its mission.
One of the great passions is life is theology. Ever since my conversion, I’ve had an insatiable desire to know who God is, to know the Bible, and to know who I am. It was until I was converted that I actually starting reading books. In high school, I hated reading. Would avoid it like the plague. That all changed when I was converted. For the first time in my life, I wanted to read in order to learn about God. This passion led me to Dallas Seminary. My days while in Dallas were filled with reading, thinking, and typing. Years of it. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours of study. All of these hours focused on the pursuit of knowing God. And this passion has ultimately led me here to this church.
My passion for theology is not shared by all Christians. In fact, many Christians are suspicious of theology. They think that theology fills you with too much “head knowledge” and not enough “heart knowledge.” They think theology is for the “ivory towers,” who sit around and talk about endless controversies that only cause division. “Real ministry” is about loving people or helping people. Theology only gets in the way of ministry. Theology puffs people up. It does no one any good.
This is a common sentiment about theology. And it’s one that I have dedicated my whole life to disproving. As I read Scripture and as I examine my own life, rather than theology serving to dull the Christian faith, I have found theology to be the fuel of obedience. Doctrine is absolutely key to godly living. Doctrine is the gateway to godliness. Doctrine is the fuel of discipleship. I’m so convinced of that proposition that I would die for it.
This morning I want to show you this truth by continuing our discussion of Christ’s exaltation. Let’s go ahead and open to Phil 2:9. This is our only verse for this morning. It reads,
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name
What I want to do this morning with this verse is to expound the theology here and then conclude by drawing out a powerful point of application. I want you to see this from, by examining this verse, how applicable doctrine is. The sermon is going to be dedicated to doctrine, to expounding what Paul is teaching here regarding Christ’s exaltation, but we will end with a point of application that results from the doctrine Paul teaches. I will have two points for you this morning. And I will conclude with a point of application.
The Basis of Christ’s Exaltation
For our first point this morning, we are going to examine this point: “The Basis of Christ’s Exaltation.” With this first point, we will answer the question, “Why was Christ exalted.” We get this point from the very first word of v. 9. Look with me there. What is it? “Therefore.”
Any time you see a “therefore” in Scripture or in any other type of literature, a helpful question to ask is: What is the “therefore” there for? That’s a cute yet effective way to pull out the meaning of “therefores.” “Therefores” are used to make logical connections between the idea that comes before the therefore and the idea that comes after the therefore. The logical link two ideas.
So, what is the link between what Paul says in v. 8 and v. 9? Let’s first unpack the idea in v. 9. Read the verse with me again: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” Taking it as a big idea, the idea of v. 9 is God the Father’s exaltation of Jesus. Pretty simply. God the Father has exalted Jesus after his humiliation on the cross.
The reason why the Father exalted Jesus is found in vv. 7 through 8. Question: Why did the Father exalt Jesus. Answer: because, v. 7 Jesus, “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” To put it simply, God the Father exalted Christ because Christ obeyed the Father. God the Father exalted his Son because the Son obeyed the Father. That’s the idea.
This teaching, that Jesus was exalted because of his humiliation, is a teaching regarding Christ that is found throughout the Bible. This is not idea that is just found in this passage. It occurs elsewhere. It occurs in both the OT and NT.
To explore what the OT teaches regarding this point of doctrine, turn to Isa 53:10. We will read through v. 12. Isaiah writes,
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
(Before I explain this passage in relation to my sermon point I’m making with it, I’d like to make a brief apologetical point about this passage. If you’re not a Christian, if you do not believe the gospel because you don’t think it’s true, I’d encourage you to really wrestle with what the Prophet Isaiah is teaching here. I think I’ve shared this story before but it’s worth sharing again. One time in interacting with a non-Christian in Dallas, I read this passage, Isa 53, to him and asked him who he thought the passage was referring to. The guy, who has very little church
background, responded that it was referring to Jesus. The reason why that point is so powerful, why this text is so powerful is because Isa 53 was written hundreds of years before Jesus died on the cross. We believe that the Bible, because it is written by God, has prophecies in it. This prophecy must be wrestled with. Non-Christian, who is Isa 53 talking about? Think about that)
Now, back to the main point why I’m reading this passage. Look with me, specifically, at v. 12. This mention of dividing the spoils is a reference to Jesus’ exaltation. What Isaiah is saying is like a warrior who is rewarded with the spoils of conquest, so also the Suffering Servant, Jesus will be richly rewarded. This “reward” is referred to in the NT as Jesus exaltation. The first part of v. 12 references Jesus’s exaltation.
The prophet continues. Why is the Suffering Servant rewarded with the spoils of victory? Or, why is Jesus’ exalted? That reason is provided after the “because.” Look with me there. “Because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors.” That’s a reference to Jesus’ death, his humiliation.
So, putting this all together, Isaiah 53 teaches that the Suffering Servant, who the NT identifies as Jesus Christ, is exalted because of his obedience in his humiliation. Jesus was rewarded because of his obedience. He was exalted because he was humiliated.
In the NT, this idea is also taught. Turn with me to Heb 2:9.
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
As with Isaiah 53 and Phil 2, so also we see hear that Christ was exalted because of his humiliation. Verse 9 begins with, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels.” That’s a reference to his incarnation, his humiliation. During his humiliation, he was lower than the angels in status. Phil 2 says that he took the form of a slave.
Then v. 9 says that Jesus was “crowned with glory and honor.” That’s a reference to his exaltation. So, the author starts with his humiliation in v. 9, then mentions his exaltation, and then it mentions his humiliation again: because of the suffering of death.” Let’s ask this question of the passage: Why is Jesus crowned with glory and honor? “Because of the suffering of death.” Jesus was exalted because of his obedience in his humiliation.
Throughout the Bible, in the OT and in the NT, the Bible affirms that Jesus’ exaltation was based upon his obedience in his humiliation. Jesus, the God-man, was exalted because he humbled himself. God the Father exalted his Son because the Son humbled himself.
The Nature of Christ’s Exaltation
Now we transition to our second point. Let’s turn back to Phil 2:9. Our first point was “The Basis of Christ’s Exaltation.” I argued that Jesus was exalted by God the Father because Jesus humbled
himself in obedience to the Father. Jesus was exalted because he humbled himself. That was the idea.
Now for the second point. Write this: The Nature of Christ’s Exaltation. With this question, we deal with the question, “What is Christ’s exaltation?” This question arises form Phil 2:9. That passage reads,
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name
We explored this question in depth last week. If you weren’t here with us last week, I would encourage you to listen to it via our website or via our podcast channel. Last week I argued that there are four steps to Jesus’ exaltation: his descent into the abyss, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement. If you weren’t here with us last week, I would encourage you to listen to it via our website or via our podcast channel.
Last week we did not explore what Paul means when he says that God the Father “bestowed on him [Jesus] the name that is above every name.” Paul’s statement “God has highly exalted him” is equivalent to Paul’s other statement in this verse: “God bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” These two statements are refereeing to the same event in two different ways. The way I want us to understand this statement to “and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” is with reference to Jesus’ reputation.
Not a Name
I think it is best here that we do not understand this passage as saying that at the exaltation that the Father bestowed upon Jesus literally a new name. Some Bible teachers teach this. Specifically, some Bible teachers teach that Jesus was given the “name” Lord at his exaltation.” They get that from v. 11. “And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
These Christians believe that God the Father gave to Jesus the name “Lord.” Now “Lord” is significant because in the Greek OT, known as the Septuagint, the name for God, YHWH, is translated with this Greek term “Lord.” So, some believe that after his exaltation the Father bestowed this name, the name of “Lord,” the name of YHWH, upon Jesus. I don’t think that interpretation is true.
Jesus is identified as YHWH in his earthly life, prior to his exaltation. Turn with me John 12:39. I will read through v. 41. The passage states,
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because the saw his glory and spoke of him.
What I want you to notice in this passage is this. Here, John is applying an OT text, which comes from Isaiah 6, to Jesus. Specifically, notice v. 41. John says, “Isaiah said these things because the saw his glory and spoke of him.” If you go read Isaiah 6, Isaiah does not say he saw Jesus. He says he say YHWH. The way John applies this to Jesus make re
This identification occurs prior to Jesus’ exaltation. John is writing here of Christ’s earthly life, prior to his exaltation. So even in his earthly life, Jesus is identified with YHWH. Jesus has
always been YHWH. He did not become YHWH. He was not granted to be YHWH by the Father after his humiliation. He has always been YHWH.
Name as Reputation
Jump back with me to Phil 2:9. So I do not think we should understand Paul teaching that the Father granted Jesus the name that is above every name as a reference to a change in Jesus’ identity. Rather, I think it is best to understand this granting of a new name as the granting of a new reputation.
Often in English when we talk about someone’s name, we often closely associate the idea of reputation. It’s not uncommon in English to hear someone say, “That person has made a name for themselves.” When we say that, we’re not saying that this person literally made a name for themselves. Like that they went down to the courthouse and changed their name. That’s not what people mean when they say this. Rather, what it means is that this person has earned for themselves a good reputation. Their name, that was once not associated with fame, success, or importance, is now associated with these concepts.
That’s what Paul is saying here regarding Jesus. The Father’s exaltation of the Son was a disposal of the Father upon the Son of a reputation that is above every reputation.
During his earthly ministry, while Jesus was Lord in the flesh, while he was YHWH in the flesh, he did not have the reputation of Lord or YHWH. His reputation was that of righteous miracle-worker. During his earthly ministry, many believed that he was the promised Messiah. Many believe, as illustrated by the story of his journey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, that he was the promised one of the OT. The cross, though, his public execution destroyed that picture. The cross was the ultimate picture of public shame. The cross destroyed Jesus’ reputation as an the Messiah.
In his exaltation, though, Jesus’ reputation is reversed. Now, rather than being a Suffering Servant who comes to bear the weight of sin for his people, now he is the risen Lord, he is the exalted King, he is the victorious Messiah who has conquered sin, death, and the devil. It was the Father who granted him this changed status. The Father exalted Jesus. The Father granted him the status of risen Lord.
The Relevance of Christ’s Exaltation
So far, the content of our discussion has been doctrine—understanding Jesus’ exaltation of the Father in light of Phil 2:9. Now as I mentioned in the introduction, I believe with all my life that theology fuels obedience, that theology will change your life, that theology is eminently practical. I will end this morning by showing you this point. This is my third point. Write this: “The Relevance of Christ’s Exaltation.”
What we have seen so far from this passage is that God the Father exalted God the Son because God the Son humbled himself in obedience to the Father’s will. What is not immediately noticeable in this context but is revealed from other portions of Scripture is that this pattern of humble obedience to God the Father results in God the Father’s exaltation is applicable to all of us, not just Jesus. What Jesus experiences and undergoes in this passage is what is available too all of us in this life. If we chose to model and follow Jesus in this life by humbling ourselves in obedience to God’s the Father’s will for our lives, God will exalt us. God will accomplish something through our lives that is unimaginably good.
Listen to what Jesus says in Matt 23:12. Jesus says this,
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
From the words of the exalted Lord himself, he tells us that if you want to be exalted, if you want to be honored and recognized, what do you have to do? You must humble yourself.
What you spend for Jesus in this world, what you give up for him, what you sacrifice for him, it is not loss. Your time, your resources, your energies. Whatever you spend in humble service to God is not loss. Rather, it is gain! What you gain is God, who is most infinitely powerful, good, righteous, wise, true, faithful, and beautiful. What you lose is yourself, your pride, your sin, your faults, and failures.
If you will devote yourself to God as making a sacrifice of your own interest to him, you will not throw yourself away; though you seem to neglect yourself, and to deny yourself, God will take care of you, and he will see to it that your own interest shall be provided for. God will make your interest and happiness his duty; and he is infinitely more able to provide for you and to promote you than you are able to do for yourself.
What is the only response to this idea? Forsake yourself. Give it all to Jesus Christ. Unreserved, total, complete, radical humbleness to Jesus Christ. What you sacrifice for Christ will not be lost. Rather, your reward will be that the God of the universe cares and provides for you in ways that you cannot care and provide for yourself.