Friday, August 18, 2017

The Exaltation of Christ

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:5–6).

When we consider the exaltation of Jesus, our mind usually jumps immediately to the Resurrection, but actually the exaltation of Jesus begins earlier. According to Isaiah 53:9, after Jesus’ death, He was assigned a grave with the wealthy. Normally, the body of a crucified criminal would be taken down and dumped into gehenna, the garbage trench outside Jerusalem, where a fire was kept burning to reduce the waste of the city.

Instead, however, the disciples interceded with Pilate and obtained permission to bury Jesus in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a man of wealth and high social status. Not only that, but Jesus’ body was ministered to with costly oils and spices and carefully wrapped for the tomb. These events were the beginning of His exaltation.

But important as these events are, they pale before the glory of the Resurrection. I say that the Resurrection was “radical” because the word radical comes from the Latin radix, meaning “root,” and the Resurrection gets down to the very root of what the Christian faith is all about.

It is radical because it means that the work of redemption is finished. It is radical because it means that a new world has begun. How is this so? Isaiah 53:9 states, concerning Jesus, that “he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” In other words, Jesus had committed no sins, and thus it was impossible for the grave to hold Him.

When God raised Jesus from the grave, it was His public vindication. It meant that He had committed no sins and thus did not deserve to die. Why, then, did He die? It could only have been for the sins of others. Why was He raised? It could only have been because His work was finished. The Resurrection, thus, publicly proclaims that God has been satisfied, and redemption has been accomplished.

The supreme exaltation of Jesus Christ was accomplished by God raising Him from the grave. But as we have seen, others were also credited with exalting Him. Paul tells us that we will all exalt Him at the last days (Philippians 2:9–12). Take time now to think back over this past week and recount how you have exalted Christ in your words and actions.