Jesus Has Risen Higher

Philippians 2:8-11 “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”

There once was a cynical bumper sticker about the power of Microsoft Corporation, “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.” Whether or not one agrees, the power of one of the wealthiest companies on the planet is easy for people to see.

After sinking to the depths of crucifixion and death, the power of Jesus is not so clear for people to see. There are preachers who will choose their words very carefully this Sunday, because they don’t believe that Jesus is alive. They believe his rotting bones are still buried somewhere in Israel. There are others, like deceased atheist Madeline Murray-O’Hare, who claim that he never existed at all. (Of course, now she knows better).

While the power of Jesus is not so easy for some to see as the power of our largest corporations, of him it is even more true: “Resistance is futile.” God has exalted him to the highest place. Jesus has come back from the dead. He is not a wispy ghost or vivid memory, but a genuine human body and soul. More than that, God has given him power over all things. The one who once made himself slave of all now has all things as his slaves. He has risen higher than anyone else ever can.

To go along with the greatest promotion ever, God has given him the name that is above every name. This is not a cheesy title like certain arrogant rulers have adopted to make themselves sound more important– “the Great,” “the Magnificent,” “the Terrible.” He is still just “Jesus,” but that name expresses a greatness that far surpasses them all.

Jesus, as may know, means “the Lord saves.” That is the true greatness and glory of our God. It does not lie in how many nations he has conquered, how much wealth he owns, how many people he rules, how large an army he leads, or how many servants attend him (though he takes first place in every one of those categories). His true greatness lies in how much love he has given. Jesus’ greatness is the magnificence of the love that led him to suffer all that we will see him suffer this Holy Week, to set us free from our sins. Jesus’ greatness is the patience of the love that sought unsteady, ungrateful, unattractive, unworthy people like you and me. Jesus’ greatness is the generosity of the love that does this all as a gift. He loved us like this long before our hearts harbored even the faintest beginnings of faltering feelings towards him. It is not just the letters, “J-E-S-U-S,” that give Jesus the name that is above every name. The wonderful story of love attached to his name exalts him as well.

Resistance to that love is futile: “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” One way or another every one of us will bow down and acknowledge that Jesus has risen to a position higher than anyone else ever can. The self-delusion of those who ignore him, or who oppose him, will be stripped away, and they will have no choice but to acknowledge that they were wrong all along. They will bow down in front of Jesus in terror because they scorned his love and despised the gift for which he gave up everything to give them.

But his love has overwhelmed our hearts. It won them to his side, and we will bow down and proclaim him Lord in love and thankfulness. Either way, Jesus is Lord, and we could not find more comfort than knowing that the one who so loved us is the one who now commands the universe.

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