Every Knee Shall Bow

1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11)

I am glad that we have, by God’s grace and His grace alone, that we have been blessed by God to have in our hands the Bible, God’s Word to us, which leads us into truth, and helps us understand what the truth is. I am glad for you and for me that we do not have to live and die according to deceit and lies. I am thankful that we have in our hands a book in which we can firmly base all of our thinking, according to the mind of God. We have the Bible as a foundation for that.

Aren’t you glad that we don’t have to conjure up theories and philosophies from our own imaginations about life today and our future? We aren’t left to ourselves to come up with what will happen in the future. I am thankful for God’s word given to us by His grace, according to His kindness. We are so blessed, tremendously blessed, undeservedly blessed, to be able to have God’s Word written for us, given as a gift from God.

I say this in part because of our passage this morning, but also because there are religions all around us. Man-made religions all around. For every documented religion there are thousands more, which are created in individual minds that may be only known really to that one person. I’m talking about people who take a little of this philosophy or religion, a little of that one, take it in and mix it together with personal feelings and maybe fantasies. Millions of people with their own unique religions, with a god of that religion, or gods, created in the minds of these people.

There is so much confusion about religion and religious beliefs. Today in the minds of men and women there is great confusion, it’s rampant. But a day is coming, coming very quickly, when all will be made clear to all people. When all of these man-made religions will be laid aside, and they will be seen for what they are: foolish. Confusion will be replaced by clarity. Every knee will bow to One, and only One. Every knee will bow, not to a multitude of gods, but just to One, only One, and that One to whom every knee will bow will be the Lord Jesus Christ.

The fact that any of us know that and believe that is only due to our gracious and giving God who has chosen to reveal Himself to us. To reveal His truth, His plan of redemption to us. By His grace and mercy, He has included us in His plan for salvation. 

At the end of time, we can bow, we will bow humbly before our God. We will bow to Him as our Savior and Lord, as His beloved children. At the end of time there will be others who will bow a knee, recognizing the glory of Christ, but they will not bow as His beloved ones. His enemies will bow a knee, but for them it will be a day of judgment, terrible judgment, and the beginning of punishment that will last forever. It will be a day of joy for us as believers, and at the same time it will be a day of terror for those who don’t belong to Him. For those who believe in the finished work of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, great joy, unspeakable joy. To those who reject Him, unspeakable terror.

We have been blessed to know the truth. When that day comes when all will bow a knee, nothing else will matter except, “How did we respond to Jesus Christ? How did we respond to the truth about Christ and His work?” Nothing else will matter. Think of all the things we hold dear today, all the things we think are so important, all that we pour ourselves into, the things we store up for ourselves, the time we spend going here and there, what will all that matter in the end? What will matter? How did we respond to Christ, to His call, how did we live for Him? It’s the death bed scenario. What really matters in the end? What really matters?

This morning we get to see the exalted Christ! We get to see Him in His glory, lifted up, exalted, we see Him as Lord. It is a great thing. Over the last few weeks we have seen Jesus as a humble servant. We’ve been focusing on His incarnation, and what it must have been like for Him as He walked on this earth. Today we will see Him differently, as the exalted Lord, the Lord of all. As we consider His majesty and His high position, we will also see and learn about some of the implications for us regarding His exaltation. What does that mean for us? In other words, what does it mean that God has highly exalted Christ Jesus? What can we learn from that?

There are a couple things I’d like to point out regarding that. First, that God the Father was fully pleased with His Son. Look at verse 9, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” God the Father, by exalting his Son and bestowing on Him the name that is above every name, in doing that He was showing His full pleasure and joy in the Son’s work. He gave His approval of His Son.

“Highly” here means “to magnify” or “to express excess.” God is exalting Christ to the highest possible degree ever. “Exalt” is “to hold someone in very high regard.” So to highly exalt would be to excessively, to the highest possible degree, hold Jesus in high regard. Paul is piling on, fitting words together to make things grand and great, piling on terms here. Kind of like if you ask a child if they like something, and they say, “I really, really, really like ‘whatever’!” Paul is being excessive with words to try to drive home the extreme in a phrase. It’s like when Paul says in Romans 8:37, “we are more than conquerors, through Christ.” What does that mean? It means we are major, big, extreme conquerors, though Jesus Christ. That is how he’s describing the Son here.

God has highly exalted His son. From the humility of a slave on earth in the incarnation, doing His Father’s will, working to secure our salvation, giving Himself for you and for me, wrapped in human flesh, from that suffering, dying on a cross at the hands of evil men, willingly doing these things for us, from the depths of humility, to what? To being highly exalted by the Father. Being really, really, really exalted. And the Father bestowing on Him the name that is above every name. It’s a place of public and very prominent glory, bestowed on the Son.

Jesus so completely satisfied His Father in fulfilling His work and providing redemption for His chosen people that He granted Him a name, an exalted title. The writer of Hebrews says, 

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4)

Jesus has inherited a name that is not only more excellent than the angels, but more excellent than any other. The name He is given emphasizes His rank above all. The name represents His divine nature, His essence, His power, and His strength. What is this name? I think we get it in verse 11, “and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” I think he’s talking about the title “Lord.”

Lord is the title of majesty and authority. In Revelation 19:16 it is expanded to King of kings and Lord of lords. He is absolutely supreme, and He has the right to be obeyed as the divine Master of all.

Why is this declaration so important? Why is it so important that we see this declaration by the Father to the Son? Why is it so important for us to see that the Father is fully satisfied and pleased with His Son? Because our total destiny and future rides on whether or not this is true, whether or not the Father was completely satisfied with the work of His Son or not. Everything for the believer rides on that. And so these passages give us assurance, they give us assurance of where we stand. They can give us a sure hope that Christ really has done all that He needed to do for the redemption of sinners like you and me, and that we can have peace with God through Him. We don’t have to wonder if the One in whom we have placed our faith, if He really has accomplished what was pleasing to God. We don’t have to wonder that. “Is it really enough? Do I need to do more? Do I need to add to some of what Christ has done? Is that really enough? Can God really be satisfied with the sacrifice of His Son?”

Have you ever put your faith in someone who has severely let you down? It happens to all of us. Maybe you thought someone was not who they really were? Someone masquerading as someone they weren’t? A business partner who said he could accomplish great things with your money? A sales man who promised you the world? A friend who said they would hang with you no matter what, only to disappoint you? People let us down. But what about Christ? 

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

While we can be jaded by people at times because of how they treat us, saying, “Who can I trust? I can’t seem to trust anyone who will never disappoint me.” And yet we find that there is One who will not let us down, and His work is sufficient for our salvation.

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)

For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” (2 Peter 1:17)

Verse 9 helps us to understand that the Father truly is satisfied with the work of the Son. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name”

The second thing I want us to see is that some day, Christ Jesus will be publicly vindicated. He will be publicly cleared of all accusations that have been made against Him. He will be seen in truth, in light of who He really is and what He has done. A day is coming when everyone, everyone who has ever lived, will recognize Jesus Christ as Lord. They will recognize Him as Lord over all.

10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

This is a fascinating and a sobering declaration. If you have been a Christian long, then no doubt you have had opportunity to share the gospel with people around you. And as you have, you have probably talked with some who have said, “No thanks.” Either they don’t believe the Gospel that you’ve shared with them, or maybe they think they believe it in some sense but they really don’t want to bow to anyone. They want to do their own thing and live their own lives.

Every time I get some kind of response like that I think of this passage, or Isaiah 45:23, or Romans 14:11. And I think to myself, “One day you will bow a knee.” And my next thought is, “I hope it is in this life, and not just in the life to come. I hope that the first time you bow a knee is not in that time that comes just before severe judgment. I hope it’s not the time just before you enter into deserved punishment, as an enemy of the living God. I hope it’s in this life, as a child of God.”

This will be the most public event ever. Every knee should bow in heaven, including heavenly beings, angels, spirit beings, those currently living on the earth, and those who will be raised in the last day, who have gone before us. It includes everyone. This includes the Pharisees who publicly blasphemed Jesus, calling Him the devil, a follower of Satan. They will declare that Jesus Christ is Lord. It will include the Romans who publicly beat Him and nailed Him to the cross. It will include the early persecutors of the church, those who threw stones at Stephen. It will include your neighbors who have and will finally reject Him. It will be a time when there will be no duplicity in thought regarding who Jesus is. Everyone will be on the same page, they will all agree that He is Lord. It includes the Jew, the Muslim, the Buddhist, and the atheist. The whole world will agree on at least one thing, that Jesus Christ is Lord. And that will come with either extreme, ecstatic joy or extreme, ecstatic terror. This will be final justice.

In the course of history, it is easy for any of us to take a snapshot of time and conclude that there is no justice. This is because we see only a glimpse at a time. We may even be tempted at times to say, “How can God allow this or that? Where is the justice in this event, in these circumstances? How can this be right?” We may even suffer for doing good. You may have been called evil for doing what the Lord wants you to do. You may have lived sacrificially for Christ and seemed to reap a reward of suffering. Have you been there?

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; (Romans 12:19-20)

For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. (Psalm 9:12)

God doesn’t turn a blind eye to our affliction or turn a blind eye to the things in our lives that seem unjust. God is the judge of all things. Truth will be known. We don’t have to scramble around trying to force justice around us, being consumed with justice now. God did not, He will not, allow His Son to be seen ultimately in an unworthy way, but Christ will be seen by all in His glory and in His power. God also will not turn a blind eye to those who do evil to His children. God is just, and that justice may not come tomorrow, but it will ultimately come. And it may be on this day that we’re reading about, when all will bow a knee to Christ.

Knowing that all things will be made right by God, that justice will prevail, this can help us today. It can help us today because knowing that God cares, that He is looking out for us as He did His Son, and that He has our lives covered in this matter of justice, then we are simply free to do what? To worship Him, to love Him, and to even love those who may be sinning against us. If we don’t believe that God has all that covered then we may be tempted to think that it is our place to put people in their place, to put them on trial, prosecute and convict them for the sake of immediate justice. That is not our place, that is a place for God and His work. We see that demonstrated with Christ in this passage. We can be free from that, free to care for and show lovingkindness to our neighbors.

Every knee will bow. Truth will be known. All things will be made clear. God will prevail, and He can be trusted with this matter of justice, while we are busy proclaiming that Christ Jesus has come; that’s what we get to do. He came in humility, suffering for our sins, dying for our redemption. We can be focused on living today for Him, with Him, knowing that the Father has been satisfied with Him, and by faith we can live for Him forever. We are free to do that until our last day, when we, with that multitude of people, will also bow a knee and proclaim that He is Lord over all.

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)