Shorter Catechism Q. 28
Q. 28 Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?
A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.
“And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9)
“and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,” (Eph 1:19-20)
“but made himself nothing, 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. Therefore God has highly exalted him 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.” (Phil 2:7-11)
In the last lesson we saw the paradox of God’s power in weakness. For when God’s kingdom came in Christ, it was not through a flashy show of glory or power, but through the shame of the cross. Jesus was not carried to his throne wrapped in ease. His road to the throne, rather, was via dolorosa, through the way of suffering. But glory comes after suffering.
Christ’s humiliation was followed by his exaltation. From his birth to death Jesus suffered all things as we suffer. In the end he suffered and died on the cross. But as we know that is not how Jesus’ story ends. His story in fact continues past his death, but in a very different way.
First, Jesus defeated death. And as he destroyed the sting of death, he destroyed sin’s curse. As Jesus made propitiation for our sin, believers now have neither death nor God’s wrath to fear. Jesus’ resurrection means our justification (Rom 4:25).
Then Jesus ascended into heaven and sat down at God’s right hand. No longer does he appear in the form of a servant. He is now the Lord of heaven and earth. A name above every name was bestowed on him that every knee should bow and every tongue confess him as Lord. Those that willingly bow and confess him as Lord now are blessed!
But a day will come. On that day all those who do not now bow before Jesus will be compelled to bend their knees. Let no one say they had no warning that a day of reckoning is coming (Rom 1:18ff.). Indeed, Jesus will come back to judge the living and the dead. We will then see him in his glory and power.
This dramatic change from humiliation to exaltation is also a pattern of the Christian’s life. There are two ways to understand this. First is our union with Christ. Second is understanding Christ as the first fruits.
First, our union with Christ. Because we are united by faith to Jesus Christ, we share in Christ’s suffering and death. We will also share in Christ’s resurrection and glory. Just as Christ suffered and then was exalted, we will suffer in this life and will be exalted with Christ.
Second, Christ as the first fruits of what we will be. Jesus’ resurrection is not only for his benefit, but for ours (1 Cor 15). The resurrected and glorified body of Jesus is an indication of what our resurrected and glorified body will be.
The meaning of all is this: Although our life is now beset with many trials, it is only our participation in Christ’s humiliation. But that is not where our story ends, either. Just as Jesus’ story continued past humiliation into exaltation, so our story also! When our time of humiliation is done, we will enter into glory. That is something to look forward to!
-- Ken Han --