In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648.
In previous weeks we’ve been looking at how Christ was humbled in order to bring us eternal life. Although Jesus was heavily humiliated in his time on earth, he did not remain in such a state. The Bible teaches us that Jesus has been exalted and will be exalted in the future. Christ’s exaltation is seen in four ways: his resurrection, his ascension, his sitting at the right hand of the Father and his coming again to judge the world. In coming weeks I will unpack these four ways. Today I will start with Christ’s resurrection.
So how was Christ exalted in his resurrection?
Firstly, we must understand that Jesus was truly dead. The gospel accounts are careful to note his real physical death.
For example, Mark records Christ’s actual death: ‘With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last’ (Mark 15:37).
John also records the measures taken to ensure Christ was dead: ‘Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe’ (John 19:31-35).
Secondly, we must understand that Jesus was physically raised. After his resurrection, Jesus gives evidence to his disciples to prove that he has a real human body: ‘Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence’ (Luke 24:39-43).
So Jesus truly died which, as we’ve seen in previous weeks, is a sign of his immense humiliation. And Jesus was truly raised to life. Such a transition from death to life is certainly an exaltation of Christ. Clearly when Christ was raised from real physical death to real physical life, Jesus was exalted from a low state to a high state. As he says in Revelation: ‘I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!’ (Revelation 1:18).
Do you recognise Christ’s exaltation at his resurrection? Do you trust in him so that you will be exalted from death too?