The ascension to Jesus Christ is the coronation of Jesus Christ. This is the point where God formally bestows upon Him all authority in heaven and on earth.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).
In the verses prior to our text, we see the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ. He humbled Himself. He did not grasp at His equality with God. He took the form of a servant. And therefore, God has exalted Him. We see here the ultimate incarnation of our Lord’s teaching—the first will be last, and the last first. We see that the one who humbles himself really is exalted. There was no greater humbling, ever. There will be no greater exaltation, ever. This is where our text begins. God has highly exalted Jesus Christ (v. 9). No higher promotion is possible, for Jesus has been given a name that is above every name. Not only is this the case, but it is not to be considered as some kind of invisible spiritual truth. Every other name under Jesus is called upon to acknowledge thisùevery knee must bow, whether in heaven, on earth, or under the earth (v. 10). No place is excluded. Further, every tongue is under the obligation to confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ, with the glory going to God the Father (v. 11).
The Lord Jesus is of course our example, that we should walk in His steps. And this demeanor is the fundamental thing set before us. When Jesus tells us to go to the back of the line, He is actually teaching us how God wants us to go to the head of the line. When Jesus talks about the chief seats in the syngogues, or the seats of honor at banquets, He is not telling us in some revolutionary way to rip those seats out. He teaches us how to get into them. You would think that this teaching is so clear that everyone would get it, and we would be living in an egalitarian paradise, with everyone in the kingdom receiving equal honor. But the power of incoherent thinking (and resultant disobedience) should never be underestimated.
We disobey this example in two ways. The first is the error of the permanent pietist, who takes the lowest seat, and refuses to budge when invited up. He is too holy to receive God’s promotion. He is, in fact, like all pietists, holier than Jesus. The second error is that of the social climber who, despite Christ’s pointed warnings, strives directly for the highest seat.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS
It has been well-said that when Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. This is what our baptism means. Do you not know, Paul argues in Romans, that we have been baptized into Christ’s death?
Godly authority can only be entrusted to sinners who have died. Without that death, everything touched is abused, whether it is the refusal to exercise dominion (which is escape religion) or the abuse of dominion (which is power religion).
Christian preachers have (at least) two important duties to discharge. One is to preach the gospel (euangelio), the good news, telling sinners how they must repent and believe, calling upon the Lord for salvation. The other duty is represented by the Greek verb kerusso, which has the sense of heralding, or announcing. In this sense, the duty of the Christian preacher is to announce to the world who is the Prince, who is established as the King.
THEREFORE . . .
Scripture teaches that God has given Jesus the name that is above every name. This is exaltation in the highest degree.
The exaltation of Christ is such that at the name of Jesus every knee is summoned to bow. Every tongue is called upon to confess. The faithlessness of the contemporary Church is seen precisely in this. The Church, on the basis of various doctrinal excuses, has taken to granting exemptions, and has been doing this contrary to what she was expressly told to declare.
Every knee and every tongue includes every knee and tongue in the White House and in Congress. It includes all nine tongues on the Supreme Court, and all eighteen knees. Our corrupted justices are hereby told, in the name of Jesus Christ, that they have been summoned. They answer to an authority beyond them, an authority which is far beyond them.
We do not declare anything in order to make it so. We declare it because God has already made it so. The Great Commission is not the process of giving Jesus authority. The Great Commission is the process of declaring the authority that He already possesses, and which He is already wielding.
The Christian faith is a public faith. The claims of Jesus Christ are total, and we have no authority to diminish the authority that God has given to Him to make these claims. We may not say, of any name, that it has the right to refuse to acknowledge that the name of Jesus is the ultimate authority. No one, standing at the last judgment, will have the right to say that they would have acknowledged the authority of Jesus, but certain key interpretations of the First Amendment prohibited it. They will not be authorized to appeal to Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state. That is as may be, but there is no wall of separation between the authority of Jesus Christ and the authority of the civil magistrate.
American Christians must come to grips with this. There will be no salvation for our nation without a Savior.