- “Easter Bunny” – Pagan tradition
- Rabbit is the symbol of Eostre, the goddess of fertility (due to high reproduction rate) and springtime
- Eggs – Symbol of rebirth or new life
- The funny thing is, rabbits are mammals (they don’t produce eggs!).
- “Easter” – originally means from the east, perhaps speaking of the sunrise. Disregarding the dating of the Easter in the calendar, the sunrise became symbolic of the rising of Christ from the dead and the new and glorious life. It points to the Resurrection Sunday, that 1st day of the week when Christ resurrected.
And contrary to the “Easter Bunny,” this Resurrection day that we commemorate and celebrate is not a mere product of church tradition. It points to a real, actual event of a real person in real history with real significance to us both now and even in the future.
This afternoon, we’ll look at Christ’s state of exaltation which includes the resurrection. And what it means to us.
A. CHRIST’S STATE OF EXALTATION
- Philippians 2:5-11
- The pattern of humiliation towards exaltation. Given the context of Philippians 2, Paul was saying that the way to exaltation is humility before one another. But through the example of Christ, it shows that the redemptive work of Christ did not end in suffering and death. After suffering comes his victory and glory.
- “Bestowed upon him the name that is above every name” – Name that is appropriate only to God. But to bestow that title to Christ as a result of his humiliation implies that he received a status and authority that wasn’t his when he was incarnated.
- But isn’t he God, as well? Why would there be a higher status and exaltation given to him? How was he exalted?
- Remember state of humiliation. It is not a “lessening” of his divine nature, but rather a “taking upon himself” of the human nature. And that human nature is not “deified.” It was subject to suffering and death.
- So the exaltation and glorification of Christ has to do with his human nature, not the divine nature. Exaltation does not apply to divinity.
- John 1:1, 3 – He is the eternal Word, the maker of all
- Hebrews 1:2 – Through the Son, the Father created the world
- Change into humiliation and exaltation cannot happen to God.
- The exaltation of Christ is not his exaltation as the eternal Son of God—as if he became a “fuller God.” Rather, it is the exaltation of his office as the Mediator. As the mediator, Christ became fully God and fully man. And it is in his humanity that exaltation is possible.
- Yet though two distinct natures, we don’t separate his humanity from his divinity. Therefore, when Christ was exalted, it was his exaltation as the God-man, the mediator between God and man. And what does this signify?
- The exaltation of Christ means that everything he accomplished as the mediator is complete and perfect. He is the accomplished mediator. Having finished his atoning work to save us from the curse of him, he now receives the crown and glory. Christ did not only represent us in his suffering, he also secured the victory and the glory of God in his plan of redemption, and he also secured the victory and glory that is to be ours through faith.
THE STAGES OF CHRIST’S STATE OF EXALTATION
A1. CHRIST’S RESURRECTION
- Common clarifications concerning his resurrection:
- “After 3 days” – Means 3rd day (Friday is counted as 1st day) – Hence, Scriptures is not wrong about this
- “Did the Father and Spirit raised Christ from the dead, as if the Son ceased to exist for a time being?” – Read John 10:17-18 (“I”). The resurrection of Christ is a Trinitarian work, signifying that the victory is truly fulfilled and sealed by God.
- Now aside from this, the most challenged aspect of the resurrection of Christ is the proof that it really happened, not just some made up story:
- Number of eye-witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-6; Acts 1:3)(hindi siya guni-guni lang, o nagpakita lang saglit)
- The boldness of these witnesses in the face of persecution and martyrdom (Acts 4:19-20).
- The sudden and complete change of his enemies (e.g., Paul) (Not like changing from evangelical to Reformed, which is gradual)
- The greatest proof is the testimony of the Spirit within us (1 Corinthians 2:12-13. At the end of the day, only those who are regenerated understand the Word about the resurrection of Christ)
- And what do we understand about the resurrection of Christ?
- The acceptance of Christ’s atoning work. (Isaiah 53:11 – “… he shall see and be satisfied”) There is a reward. If the atoning work of Christ is effective, it has to end not in death, but in life. The sacrifice is complete.
- Our justification, our righteousness. Romans 4:25 – “… [he] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” That’s why there’s no more condemnation.
- Our new life and future glory. Romans 6. If we are united to Christ in his death, wherein our sins are put to death, we are also united to Christ in his resurrection—wherein we are raised to a new life. (Our resurrection to be discussed in next Sundays)
- Redemptive message: We are all under the curse of sin and death. None shall escape it. But here is Christ who rose from the dead. And that’s what makes him different from Buddha, Mohammed, or Confusius. Peter said in Acts 2:24, “it was impossible for him to be held by [death].” He has the power over sin and its curse of eternal death. You’ll never find it somewhere else; you’ll only find it in him. Put your faith in him.
A2. CHRIST’S ASCENSION
- Christ ascended in glorious bodily form, and vanished in the sky. And it signifies that his mission on earth was completed. Not that he will no longer work, but that God’s redemptive work will have a greater continuation. (e.g. Like drama/movie – There’s a progression towards the end)
- John 16:7-8, 12-13
- Not that the Holy Spirit was not working before Christ’s time or during Christ’s ministry. Rather, there will be a wider, greater, and fuller demonstration of God’s power through the work of the Holy Spirit.
- (We’ll talk more about the Holy Spirit in the next Sundays, but let it be suffice for now to understand that in the wisdom of God, Christ had to ascend to heaven and his Spirit to continue the work of building his kingdom towards the consummation)
- Imagine if Christ stayed physically, and we all have to go to Israel to hear his words. It is possible, but that’s just not how God designed his drama of redemption. Instead, Christ ascended and continues the work of building his church through the Spirit.
- Acts 2:32-33 – “this” – the outworking of the Spirit, the gospel ministry
- It is the Spirit who indwells the believers and guides them into all the truth, from the apostles down to the entire church history until today. Hence, Christ, our ascended Lord, continues to call us and guide us by his Word and Spirit. Thus, his promise stands sure: “I will be with you to end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
A3. CHRIST’S SESSION
- Christ’s exaltation did not end in his ascension. He also “sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty.”
- 1 Peter 3:22
- Hebrews 8:1
- Christ is now seated in the throne of heaven in power and majesty. He is the head of the Church.
- Again, as Prophet, though not bodily here with us, he continues to guide us by his Word and Spirit.
- As High Priest, Christ continues to intercede for us before the Father. Our sins are continuous forgiven. Our prayers heard. Our salvation secure.
- As King, Christ has all the power and authority to keep his church and direct everything toward their salvation
And as the exalted King, he will return in glory, and “every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…” (Phil. 2:10-11).
A4. CHRIST’S RETURN
- The final stage of Christ’s exaltation is his visible and physical return. Acts 1:11 “… This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
- (We’ll talk more about what will happen to us when Christ’s return in the section, “the resurrection of the body” of the Apostles’ Creed. But we focus now on Christ’s glorious return as the Lord of all).
- When Christ returns, he will no longer return as a baby weakened by the flesh. He will not return as man to be despised, ridiculed, scourged, and put to death. No, he will return as a Judge and King.
52.) Tanong: Anong kalakasan at kaaliwan ang ibinibigay sa iyo ng muling pagbabalik ni Cristo “upang hatulan ang mga buhay at mga patay”?
“Sa lahat ng pagdurusa at pag-uusig na aking nararanasan,
taas-noo at may kasiguraduhan akong naghihintay sa mismong hukom
na Siyang nag-alay na ng Kanyang sarili sa ilalim ng hatol ng Diyos alang-alang sa akin
at nag-alis ng buong sumpa na nasa akin.
Itatapon ni Cristo ang lahat ng Kanyang mga kaaway at aking mga kaaway
sa walang katapusang sumpa at parusa,
ngunit kukunin Niya ako at ang lahat ng Kanyang mga hinirang
sa Kanyang presensya,
sa kagalakan at kaluwalhatian ng langit.”
B. WHAT DOES CHRIST’S STATE OF EXALTATION (ALL THIS) MEAN TO US
- The Christian faith is a living faith and living hope
- Our God, our Savior, is not dead! We do not worship a dead god (e.g., Last Friday, may parada ng mga diyos-diyosan sa kalye. Gods who cannot even walk). We don’t bet for our eternal destiny in a mere man who’s dead.
- Our faith is in Christ who is risen, the Lord in glory and power.
- The Christian faith is a new life of holiness
- Again, as Paul explained in Romans 6, Christ resurrected to give us new life. Let us consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.
- And John said, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).
- Prayer for continuous strength to fight sin in our lives.
- The Christian faith is a life of confidence and joy
- We might still have to mortify our sins, and battle against temptations. But the resurrection and return of Christ assures us that we shall have the final victory over sin.
- And as believers who look forward to this return of Christ, we have this unspeakable confidence, comfort, and joy. (Not that Christian life is easy and free from pain). But despite all our pains, sickness, troubles in life, and even problems with the wicked—we know that Christ is seated in the heaven, ruling everything. And this is all going to end well when returns.
Conclusion in the end: We have the assurance of a glorious end. And may this truth comfort us and encourage us to keep our confession and run this race with faithfulness, hoping for the return of our Savior and our King.
Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.