The Wonderful Works of God: Christ’s Exaltation

The Exaltation of the Saviour

The exaltation of Christ is surely one of the most soul-thrilling truths of the whole Bible, the future of the entire creation hinging upon it. As we survey the chaos of this world due to human sin (our knowledge and understanding being infinitesimally small), the future of this planet looks bleak in the hands of unstable leaders. In previous articles, we noticed this didn’t take God by surprise, and His plan to recover the universe was unveiled by the inspired pen of the prophets and set in motion by the condescending stoop of the Lord. Our God must and will have His Perfect Man on the throne of this universe, and the exaltation of Christ is the ascent and climax to this incredible summit.

Having accomplished the work of the cross, Christ spent 40 treasured days demonstrating with infallible proofs that He had risen from among the dead, disclosing further truth concerning the kingdom of God (Act 1:3). It was a moment of speechlessness when, having heard His parting exhortation, the disciples watched their Master lift off from planet earth and ascend heavenward. His journey passed through the domain of Satan, demonstrating with utter clarity that He had entered the strong man’s house, bound him and was set to plunder his goods (Mat 12:29). The full extent of God’s power was on display, having spoiled principalities and powers, making a show of them openly and triumphing over them in it, and the invitation reverberated throughout heaven and earth: “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psa 110:1; Heb 1:13).[1]

In Ephesians 1, Paul underscores the fact that God has His Man for the future of this world. In absolute satisfaction God raised Christ from the dead, setting Him upon the highest pinnacle of heavenly glory, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come. I suggest that in this we can see Matthew’s presentation of the Messiah King.

As opposed to Ephesians 3:14, where Paul highlights the Father/Son relationship, 1:17 sets forth the Manhood of Christ, proved in verse 23 by the fact that the believers of this dispensation complement Him as His Body. We can’t complement Him in relation to deity but can in connection with His humanity. Ephesians teaches us that believers of this dispensation are uniquely “sealed” with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest (guarantee) of our inheritance, likening the Holy Spirit to an engagement ring on the finger of a prospective bride, giving the assurance that she will enter into marriage with the Bridegroom. This great mystery is outlined in 5:22-33, that it is His Body, the Church, that becomes His Bride, ironing out the possibility of its including believers from other dispensations. The Church is distinct, unique and alone, and has the eternal privilege of occupying that blessed place to complement Christ. The marriage takes place in Revelation 19 just before the Church is presented with Christ in glory (Col 3:4) and prior to the resurrection of Old Testament saints, Israel and the Tribulation saints (consider the statements and contexts of Job 19:25-27; Psa 17:15; Isa 26:19-21; Eze 37:11-14; Dan 12:1-2; Hos 6:1-3; Luk 14:14-15; Joh 11:24; Rev 6:9-11). This knowledge will preserve us from the danger of mixing the Church with Israel or Old Testament saints.

The exaltation of Christ in Philippians 2 teaches us that the One who eternally and perfectly possesses essential deity (with total equality in the Godhead) assumed in its fulness the place of a servant, becoming a perfectly real Man. This is the One whom God has super exalted, to whom the knees from every sphere will bow, every tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord. Surely, in this we can connect the Perfect Servant in Mark and the Sinless Man in Luke.

While the exaltation of Christ is seen in a veiled way in Colossians, the letter does not explicitly outline details as the epistles formerly mentioned. Having already connected Matthew, Mark and Luke, I suggest the reason is similar why John in his Gospel does not include the conception, birth, transfiguration, darkness and judgment of Calvary, etc. John’s responsibility was to underscore the deity of our Saviour. With the backdrop of gnosticism, Paul’s objective to the Colossians was the same. He is the One “who is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), in whom “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (2:9).

“O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Psa 34:3).

The Exaltation of Self

Isaiah 14 outlines with clarity the glorious day when this world’s bondage to the king of Babylon (ultimately Satan) will cease. It not only informs us of the great future downfall of Satan and his mighty empire but of its ugly origin, recording the evil intentions of Lucifer when he said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God … I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (vv13-14). From the beginning of time, Satan shamelessly sought to convince mankind that they too could become as God, this lie finding its tragic culmination in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 when the Man of Sin seats himself in the temple, exalting himself above all that is called God, desiring worship for himself as God. It is an inexplicable disgrace that humanity crucified the only sinless Man, only to embrace and worship the son of perdition! Self-exaltation is of the devil and typifies the corrupt and irreparable heart of mankind. Let us therefore with fresh solemnity consider the words of our Lord: “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased” (Mat 23:12). No wonder Peter writes, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1Pe 5:6).

As we close, interestingly, the Greek word translated “exalted” is used by the Spirit of God for Christ being “lifted up” upon Calvary’s cross (Joh 3:14; 8:28; 12:32). When men thought they were debasing the Prince of Glory, God ever viewed His Beloved Son as exalted above all. Five times the Hebrews epistle mentions the exaltation of Christ (the Person who is seated in 1:3, the Power He will display in 1:13, the Priestly work in which He is engaged in 8:1, the Perfection of His sacrifice in 10:12, the Pathway He experienced in 12:2). Let us dip our toes into the ocean of God’s Word, inhaling the fresh breeze of heaven as we muse upon the exaltation of our glorious Saviour.

“O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isa 25:1).

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV.