The Name Above All Names
On Good Friday we are reminded of the meaning of the cross. We are reminded of how Jesus died on the cross to atone for our sin; we are reminded of His role as Saviour to those who trust in Him.
But is that it? Once our sins have been washed by the blood of the Lamb, what role does Jesus play in our life? What relevance does Jesus have to our life today?
Beloved, I maintain that the answer to this question can be found in Philippians, chapter 2. Some of you might be aware that verses 6 through 11 are in the form of a hymn. The hymn of Philippians 2 basically has two parts: verses 6-8 describe the humiliation of Christ, while verses 9-11 describe the exaltation of Christ.
In this hymn we learn that the exaltation results from the humiliation. In verse 9, after describing the humiliation of Christ, Paul writes, "Therefore God highly exalted Him". The aim of this sermon will be to explain the meaning of Christ's exaltation, and its application for our lives.
First of all, what does it mean for Christ to be exalted following His humiliation? Keep in mind that we are speaking about the second member of the Trinity here; we are talking about the Son of God. When the Father exalted the Son, the Son did not become any more perfect than He was before. It was not the case that He became more divine. Jesus, as God, could not be elevated to a higher status than He was already.
The exaltation has to do with Jesus being the God/Man. Jesus, from all eternity, was fully God. But, at His incarnation, He became fully Man as well. And we know that the history of Jesus, as the God/Man, is a humble one. He was born in humble conditions and laid in a feeding trough. And, in the ultimate act of humility, the God/Man allowed Himself to be arrested and crucified by sinful human beings. And because Jesus, the God/Man, did all of this in accordance to the will of God the Father, we read, "Therefore God highly exalted Him".
This exaltation of the second member of the Trinity was new and different than before. As the result of His humiliation Jesus was now exalted, not simply as the Son of God, but as the God/Man--as the mediator between God and humanity.
And we read in Philippians 2, that in the exaltation, the Son of God is given "the name which is above every name"(v.9).
What is this name which is above every name? When theologian, R.C. Sproul, would ask his seminary class this question, inevitably someone would answer, "Jesus". No. The name that is above every name is the name to be given to Jesus every time His name is mentioned. The apostle Paul writes, "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father"(v.10,11).
The name which is above every name is LORD. This is the name "bestowed"(v.9) on Jesus at His exaltation.
Many revere the name Jesus and understand that He is indeed Lord, but many, as you know, do not regard Jesus in this manner. As I read verses 10 and 11, one application that jumps out at me is the way we treat the name of Jesus. It seems to me that the worst kind of language is language that uses the name "Jesus" in a flippant manner.
If we apply these verses to the 3rd commandment, the command reads, "You shall not take the name of the Lord (Jesus) in vain"(Ex.20:7). Personally, I would rather listen to a person speaking vulgar language for an hour than have to listen to someone utter, just once, the name Jesus in a careless manner.
We may not literally bow, when we hear the name of Jesus uttered, but there is a real sense in which our heart should bow every time we hear the name Jesus because we understand that He is LORD.
The word, "LORD", comes from the Greek, "kurios"(koo-ree-os), and has three common uses in the New Testament.
The lowest sense of the word kurios is its use as a polite form of address, like "Sir" or "Mr.". This use of the word explains those texts in the gospels where perfect strangers approach Jesus and call Him "Lord". We typically read those passages and think, "Wow! How did they know?!", when really all they were saying was "Sir" or "Mr.".
The middle sense of the word kurios has to do with being a ruler. The title is used in connection with the Greek word, translated, "slave". In this sense, kurios is a slave-owner.
The highest use of the word kurios is what we find in Philippians 2. In its highest sense, kurios means "supreme in authority". After His crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension, Jesus takes His place at the right hand of God the Father and is given the title kurios/LORD.
As the second member of the Trinity, the Son of God has been supreme in authority from all eternity. But now, this supremacy extends to Jesus in His new status as the God/Man.
So what does this new status of Jesus have to do with us? What relevance does the status of Jesus being Lord have on our lives?
To answer this question it is helpful for us to recall the middle use of the word kurios. In the middle sense of the word, kurios means you have ownership and authority over a particular person or a particular group of people. But in the highest sense of the word, kurios refers to ownership and authority over all things.
What this means, beloved, is that if Christ is kurios, if Christ is Lord, over all, than He is kurios, than He is Lord, over you and over me.
Christians often refer to themselves as children of the Heavenly Father. This is both true and appropriate (Rom.8:14-17). But what we don't hear nearly as often is the fact that there is a real sense in which we are also slaves. There is a real sense in which we are Christ's personal property.
Now I recognize that the idea of slavery, the idea of being someone's personal property, is repugnant to most. But in this instance, I reckon that belonging to Christ Jesus is the highest standing we could ever hope to obtain. I would rather be a slave to Christ, and be owned by Him, than be an earthly king and be accountable to no one.
Make no mistake friends, when we the Bible speaks of us belonging to Christ, it is not referring to a partnership. When Paul tells us that we have been purchased by the blood of Christ (1Cor.7:23), he does so using the same language one would use if they were describing the purchase of a slave.
In the plainest of terms, Paul tells the Romans in chapter 6, verse 22, that "having been freed from sin", we are now "enslaved to God". And friends, this is not a bad thing--not in the least. For the same verse says that in being "enslaved to God (we) derive our benefit, resulting in sanctification", and ultimately, "eternal life".
The plain truth of Scripture is that we can either go to hell with our independence or we can go to heaven as bondservants of Jesus Christ.
While Paul often talks about our status as children and heirs of our Heavenly Father, he also speaks, with similar frequency, about being slaves to Christ. And the tendency on Good Friday and Easter Sunday is to talk about the benefits of being purchased by Christ, but we would do well to also think about the responsibilities of being purchased by Christ. We would do well to consider what it means for Jesus to be our kurios, to be our LORD.
The apostle Paul draws out the implications of Jesus being our Lord in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 6, verses 19 and 20, "do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body."
The implications of having Christ as our Lord is that every part of us--our body, our mind, our talents, our time--it all belongs to Christ our Lord. If you are a Christian, "you are not your own"--you belong to Christ. It is for this reason that our catechism states that "the chief end of man" is "to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever".
This truth should profoundly affect the way we live our lives. Before we speak, before we act, before we do anything, we should consider, "Will this bring glory to my Lord Jesus Christ?"
Beloved, I do not know if what I have said this morning comes as news to you or not. I do not know if your consideration of Jesus as Saviour has led you to understand Him also as Lord. Either way, the Bible is clear: we cannot know Jesus any other way than as Lord.
God has so ordained that ultimately everyone will acknowledge Jesus as Lord sooner or later. It is my prayer for you that you would come to acknowledge this by choice rather than by force. It is my prayer that you might know the blessing of recognizing the Lordship of Jesus today, and everyday, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.