Writing a story is like climbing a mountain. The author takes the reader on a journey up the mountain, adding one detail on top of another. But the most pivotal action happens at the very peak, what we call the climax. The gospel story ascends from the birth of Christ to His crucifixion. So, is the cross the climax of Jesus’ story? Today’s passage suggests otherwise.
Jesus’ story did not end at the cross. Nor did it end at the empty tomb. Because Jesus was obedient to the point of death on a cross, “God exalted him to the highest place” (v. 9). All the benefits that we enjoy in the Christian life come from the exalted Christ who is seated “at the right hand of God” (Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1). The resurrection and ascension of Christ is proof that God accepted Christ’s payment on our behalf. The risen and ascended Christ sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all believers and empower the church (John 16:7). At the end of time, the coming of the kingdom will draw the earth into the glory that Christ already enjoys in heaven (Matt. 6:10).
Jesus spoke of His exaltation as a kind of restoration. “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do,” He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:4–5). One feature of this will be the universal acknowledgment of Christ’s lordship. Every knee will bow in submission, and every tongue will declare “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (vv. 10–11). Believers will do this gratefully and with a willing heart. Unbelievers will do so grudgingly, in fear of final judgment.
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We rejoice in bowing the knee to Christ as our Lord and Savior. Lead us in ever more sincere and comprehensive submission to You, Jesus, for the glory of God the Father.