Servant to King – The Glorification of Christ

Written by  //  March 31, 2010  //  Uncategorized  //  No comments

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him”

Humble service has a price.  The price for Jesus was life as a bond-servant and ultimately death at the hands of His own creation, a humiliating spiteful death administered with all the cruelty and insult imaginable.  But, just as surely as humble service has a price it also has a reward.  Paul describes the reward for Christ’s service in this passage, as we see the suffering servant lifted to the throne and crowned with glory, power, and might. Jesus had often stated that “whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matt 23:12 NASB) and certainly through His incarnation and subsequent exaltation He demonstrated this principle for all to see.  We must not miss the impact of the humble obedience in Phil 2:5-8 on the exalted status of vs. 9-11. The Hebrew writer describes Jesus as a pioneer, i.e. one who shows the way by treading it first, and here we see just that Jesus leading the way to glory demonstrating the simple fact that the crown of exaltation could only be found through the cross of humiliation.

“and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.”

To bestow a gift upon someone is to give to them freely and generously, it indicates love and good will on the part of the giver to the recipient.  The gift which the Father bestowed upon His obedient Son was a gift like no other; He gave Him “the name which is above every name.”  Much has been written about this name.  Many see here the name Jesus as the name given to Him, others point to verse 11 and from that see the name as Lord.  Two things come to mind when considering this, first there is the timing of the gift.  This gift was given not before the crucifixion but was a result of the humble service of Jesus.  Clearly the Son bore the name of Jesus during the incarnation, and before the ultimate act of humiliation.  Likewise, the name Lord belonged, in a sense, to Jesus from before the incarnation.  It was the Word that created all that we see, and ordered it to function according to His authority, so clearly Lordship was His prior to His humiliation.  Secondly, the name given was to be unlike any other.  Neither Jesus nor Lord would fit this, as both have been used to describe men since long before Jesus of Nazareth was brought into this world.  There are other titles given to Jesus throughout scripture but all of them seem to fall to these same difficulties.

We tend to give very little significance to names in our society today.  Typically our children’s names come from a dear relative, a favored celebrity, or from a convenient book which merely gives a list of thousands of names from which we choose one that seems pleasing to our ears.  However, in ancient times names had meaning and significance names were descriptive of the person who bore them.  We see this often in scripture as a man’s name would be changed to fit the particular work that God had given him to do.  A name evokes all that a person is, his heritage, personality and position in life and society.  The text here examines the ultimate reaction of man in the presence of this glorified King.  I believe that “the name” here is representative of the glory and honor that has been bestowed upon Christ because of His humiliation.  In the Old Testament, “The Name of God” was an oft used phrase that indicated the divine presence and majesty.  Taking all of that into account it would seem that “the name” stands for all that Jesus is.  In Acts 2:33, we find that He is exalted to the right hand of God, in Colossians 1:5-18 we find that He is the preeminent one and in Eph 1:22-23 He is seated “at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named”

“at the name of Jesus every knee will bow”

Imagine the shock of the skeptic at the sounding of that final trumpet, the fear of the false teacher at the sight of the angels coming in flaming vengeance, the terror of the unrepentant as the clouds roll back and all that is seen now by faith is revealed to fearful eyes.  This is the picture that Paul paints for us when the world next sees Jesus.  No more will He be the babe from Bethlehem or the carpenter’s son from Nazareth.  Human eyes will not behold the humbled, limited, bondservant, the lamb that is silent before His shearers, instead He will be revealed to us in all of His glory, power and might, a fearful presence bent on judgment and destruction.

What will the men of this world do when the reality of “the name which is above every name” is seen?  Kneel before Him and confess Him as Lord.  When Jesus is seen as He is the men every man will pay homage to Him both in word and in deed.

“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”

In the King James, verse 12 begins the same way verse 9 began “wherefore,” i.e. based upon all that has been said up to this point.  This seems to point all the way back to 1:27 and the good citizen of the kingdom.  This citizen must live in harmony with other citizens, 2:1-4.  He accomplishes this by having the mind of Christ and demonstrating a humble heart, 2:5-8.  And lastly, he can look forward to a day when he too will be glorified and dwell with the Father.

We live our lives as citizens in the kingdom in hope of that final glorification of our vile bodies. However, we must be ever aware of the need for humble, submissive obedience to bring this about.  Just as surely as the way of our salvation was paved by the humble obedience of Christ, so also will our path to glory be marked by our own submissiveness and service.  Without the humiliation of the cross Jesus could not become the King of the kingdom, likewise without humble submission we cannot be citizens in His heavenly home.

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