God’s last Word in Exaltation | Sermon By T. T. Crabtree
When Jesus came in the flesh, the Jewish people were anticipating a conquering Messiah who would dispose of their Roman captors.
Jesus tried to make clear to his disciples that his kingdom was not an earthly kingdom (John 18:36).
Yet there would be a final triumph—a final exaltation—and again Jesus would be God’s last Word in it.
The final exaltation will come when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout” (1 Thess. 4:16).
The apostle Paul reminded the Philippians: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9–11).
Of course Christ was exalted following his resurrection when he “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3 NASB), but this final exaltation will not be fully manifested until the return of Jesus Christ.
The writer of Hebrews puts it like this: “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Heb. 1:10–12).
Heaven and earth, as we know them, will grow old. Christ will roll them up as one rolls up an old garment and lays it aside to be worn no more.
Heaven and earth, as we know them, will be exchanged for new heavens and a new earth (Rev. 21:1). Scientists have set forth what is called the “second law of thermodynamics,” the belief that the universe is gradually losing heat and is thus slowly running down.
The Bible says it more poetically by describing the universe as an old garment that gradually is becoming worn out. In the face of such prospects, God promises a final exaltation: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
The prophets were great men, but they were only spokesmen for God. The Bible speaks of angelic beings, but they are only messengers of God to do his bidding. Only Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
James I of Scotland often traveled about his kingdom in disguise in order to acquaint himself with the real needs of his people.
He disguised himself as a farmer and went under the name of “The Good Man of Ballengiech.” Over the years he developed close friendships with humble people who never dreamed that he was the king.
During one of his disguised travels, the king was befriended by a poor countryman who risked his own life to do so.
Later the same countryman was summoned to Stirling Castle where the king kept midwinter court. Naturally the poor fellow was horrified, because in those days to be summoned to the king’s court usually was to be condemned for some crime.
Little did the poor fellow know that the king before whom he was to appear was one and the same with “The Good Man of Ballengiech.” Imagine the surprise on the face of the poor countryman when he looked up into the eyes of the one sitting on the throne, fearing that he would hear a condemnation of death and seeing for the first time that the king was in reality an old friend.
The summons to the king’s court was not for condemnation but for reward (James Hastings, ed., “The Epistle to the Hebrews,” in The Speaker’s Bible [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1961], 13).
Jesus comes to us in much the same manner. He came among us as one of us to become both our Friend and Lord. He came as God’s last Word to us. The salvation that he offers is never obsolete or irrelevant.
In these last times God seeks to speak to us through his Son. We will do well to listen and to follow.
T. T. Crabtree was for many years the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri. He taught preaching and homiletics in Southern Baptist seminaries.