By Brooke Holt
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so 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.” (Philippians 2:9–10)
In sermons and Bible studies, you’ve probably heard this teaching about the word therefore: “Whenever you see a therefore, you must ask what it is there for.” What is Paul driving home in Philippians 2? In the first eight verses, Paul highlights the humility of Christ, who emptied himself of all the glories of heaven to become an obedient servant of the Lord, obedient even to death on a cross. In verse nine, therefore highlights what has become of Jesus’s obedient work and sacrifice. He has been exalted and will continue to be exalted by the Lord. At his second coming, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that he is the Lord.
The humility and obedience of Jesus—that resulted in him dying on the cross—were also the means to his exaltation. Many people, even Christians, wrongfully think that surrendering their rights and desires to the Lord leads to oppression. But the life of Jesus demonstrates another reality.
When Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread in the wilderness, it would have been easy to fulfill his fleshly appetite. When Satan tempted Jesus to demonstrate his glory by jumping off the cliff and having angels protect him, it would have been easy to give way to pride and prove his power. And from a human perspective, the easiest path of all would be the temptation to skip the cross. Satan said that if Jesus would just worship him, he would give Jesus all the kingdoms and their glory. Glory without suffering, exaltation without crucifixion. That would appeal to all of us!
But praise the Lord that Jesus is not like us. He never chose the easy path. He chose obedience every time. He chose to deny his flesh, pride, and comfort—and embraced the agony of the cross. And his faithfulness and obedience were perfectly rewarded. What do you think that means for you, when you struggle to be faithful and obedient? What do you think that means for you, when you face temptations in this world?
It all comes down to whether you want to find your life in the temporal world or the eternal world. Jesus lived his life with an eternal perspective. He believed that his obedience would result in his exaltation and the salvation of many. The obedience of Christ bought our eternal salvation. Now we can live in thankful obedience to him—with grateful hearts overflowing with love for God.
Spend some time pondering eternity. What will heaven look like, feel like, be like? What will it be like to see Jesus face to face, to be completely free of sin, and to be fully restored? How does that future hope help you live in obedience today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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