Who Is Highest?
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! (Psalm 57:5)
The pursuit of God will embrace the labor of bringing our total personality into conformity to His. And this not judicially, but actually. I do not here refer to the act of justification by faith in Christ. I speak of a voluntary exalting of God to His proper station over us and a willing surrender of our whole being to the place of worshipful submission which the Creator-creature circumstances makes proper.
The moment we make up our minds that we are going on with this determination to exalt God over all, we step out of the world’s parade. We shall find ourselves out of adjustment to the ways of the world, and increasingly so as we make progress in the holy way. We shall acquire a new viewpoint; a new and different psychology will be formed within us; a new power will begin to surprise us by its upsurgings and its outgoings.
Our break with the world will be the direct outcome of our changed relationship with God. For the world of fallen men does not honor God.
Millions call themselves by His Name, it is true, and pay some token respect to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to proof on the question of who is above, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced between making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choices he makes day after day throughout his life.
The characters of the Easter story tell the story of who is above. It makes known that even those who follow Christ can find themselves choosing other things over Christ.
And there are those who see themselves positionally above Christ.
Throughout history there has been the seeking to place the blame of the crucifixion on humanity as though humans orchestrated it. We read that Christians often blamed the Jews and even went as far as to justify their torture and execution. We read that Rome and its governing body has been blamed for the crucifixion. We even hear of those who say that they as sinners are to be held accountable and though I get what they are trying to say- that it was for sinners Christ died- it is as though humans had some power over Christ Jesus. The truth of the matter is that no one including the devil had any say in the crucifixion. It was all God-decided and God controlled and every participant from the accusers of the Sanhedrin, to the crowd that cried, “Crucify Him,” to Herod who had Christ whipped and mocked, to Pilate who washed his hands, to the soldiers who nailed Him to the cross and the one who pierced His side, were nothing more than the tools used by God in carrying out His plan. When we try in some way to attribute the crucifixion to an act of humans or even the devil, we are attempting to place someone above Christ.
The scriptures are clear as to who is above all things and who directs all activity of creation. It is none other than God alone.
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
Before Adam was created and certainly before he sinned and humanity needed a deliverer, God had purposed in His infinite knowledge and wisdom that the Son of God, the Lamb would offered as a sacrifice.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Jesus is very clear in the fact that He would lay down His life- no one could take it from Him. We conclude that the pressure of the Sanhedrin, the cry of the mob, the decision of Pilate had no control over Christ. None of the powers of hell could influence or force His death on the cross. It was all done by His power and decision.
“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
In Pilate’s mind, as Jesus stood before him, he was the one in power. He could either release Jesus or put Him to death, or so he thought. The reality was that Christ was above and Pilate was the one who was the servant carrying out the plans of God. As a matter of fact every thing created is beneath the hand of God, though sometimes they act as though they are in control. In the times of the Antichrist, it will look as though he has all power and that darkness and evil are ruling and reigning until God gives us the view from heaven.
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Finally we are told in Philippians that the Christ who reigns over all will be worshipped by all without exception.
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 acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The question we must ask is whether we have exalted God above everything. In the Easter story we find the Sanhedrin exalting their traditions and their position above Christ, for when He did not elevate them to their expected place, they plotted to remove Him. We read that Judas, wanting to use Christ for his purposes of overthrowing the Romans and reestablishing the kingdom of Israel, betrayed Christ, thinking the he could somehow force Christ to use His power for the rebellion. We hear Peter declare his loyalty only to deny Christ for fear he too would be taken captive and be crucified. We see the disciples, who had been with Jesus three years, abandon Him in the garden and flee for their lives. And when we read this, we often find ourselves judging their actions as those of unbelievers. So we must ask ourselves honestly, “What would I have done?” “Would I choose my rituals and position and wealth and plans and self and life over Christ?” Few of us will ever face such a obvious distinctive decision but we will face every day the choice of elevating Christ to His rightful place, enthroned above all things. We may find ourselves having to choose between our career and Christ when asked to participate in an unethical decision. Will we just shrug our shoulders and say, “Well, that’s the norm and I really need my job” or will we exalt Christ and say, “As a Christian, I cannot participate in this decision even if it means I miss the promotion or lose the job.” We may find ourselves facing the decision of choosing our plans over the plans of Christ. Will we choose to follow Him as He leads though we may long to follow another path? I leave us with this: As we get up every morning, do we immediately begin planning our day and asking God to bless our decisions or do we come before His throne and ask what His assignment is for us that day. Do we make Him our servant carrying out our plans and desires or do we become His servants, fulfilling His wishes in all we do?
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
May not only this Holy Week, but every day, we worship and exalt this King of Kings and Lord of Lords. May we bow before Him in adoration and honor. May we see Him high and lifted up and may we see ourselves as the servant to the King!
Dr. John Thompson