Summary: The Throne and The Lamb, part 11 Luke 2:1-20; Revelation 5:9-14 The Glory of His Incarnation The Glory of his Exaltation
The Throne and The Lamb, part 11
The Glory of His Incarnation and the Glory of His Exaltation
December 21, 2014
Today we finish our series on Revelation chapters four and five, “The Throne & The Lamb.” This week I want to start by looking at Luke chapter two, pondering the “Glory of the Incarnation” and finish by looking at Revelation chapter five pondering the “Glory of his Exaltation.”
The Glory of His Incarnation
Jesus is born in Bethlehem, an insignificant place, among insignificant people that betrays the significance of his birth and his person. Luke gives us the first clue of this when he says, literally, that the time was fulfilled pointing out that this birth fulfills Old Testament Scripture. It is as if time was clicking on a clock and all along God was sovereignly orchestrating events to ensure Mary and Joseph are in Bethlehem at the right time for her to give birth. How did this happen? God influenced Caesar Augustus so he would become a government official at the right time and at the right place. Then God put it in his heart to declare a census at the right time so Mary and Joseph would be in Bethlehem at exactly when Mary would give birth to Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament promise that a ruler, a king, would come from Bethlehem. Think of the multitude of events behind this one event that God guided in such a way to accomplish this. But this is not the only clue that points to the significance of this birth! Heaven itself testifies to and celebrates his birth. An angel gives a birth announcement to shepherds and then an angelic choir sing, praising God, in worship. Then the shepherds come and honor the baby king. And Matthew tells us that Magi come to worship the young child Jesus, whom they identify as the king of the Jews.
Scripture will not allow us to think about this as an ordinary birth. It describes the birth as Jesus having descended from heaven, and God sending his Son into the world. This birth is heaven's glory veiled in human flesh. The birth of Jesus Christ is described as the incarnation, the divine act in which the eternal Son of God, the Second person of the trinity, assumed a human nature, flesh and form. Paul describes the incarnation this way, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” There are three truths about the incarnation here that I want to point out. First, before his birth, 'Jesus was in the form of God.' He held the highest place, 'equality with God.' His glory was equal to God the Father from before the foundation of the world. Second, Jesus did not insist on his rights, “he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” Before the incarnation he was immune to weakness, humility, humiliation, poverty, and pain. Yet he did not consider his status something to be held onto like a right or privilege but freely gave it up. Third, 'he emptied himself' or as the NIV says 'made himself nothing.' Lest we misunderstand this, the next phrase tells us how he emptied himself, 'took the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.' He emptied himself by taking on something, 'the form of a servant.' He went from being only the Son to being a servant. A new relationship with God and given a task he must complete. Appearing as an ordinary man with a public image not anything different than any other man, veiled in glory that requires the eyes of faith to see. Not only did he humble himself to become a servant but 'became obedient to death, death on a cross.' He stooped from glory to become a man, to learn obedience through suffering, and to embrace death. Before the incarnation he was immune to death but now he embraced our mortality. Scripture tells us that he did it to save sinners by dying as a substitute for us. But there is more. Humanity needs more than just forgiveness. We need life imparted to us, eternal life, the very life that Jesus is. Or in the language of Revelation chapter five, he ransomed people for God.
The Glory of his Exaltation
So here in this vision of heaven, this same person who was born in obscurity, who was slain to ransom people for God is exalted to the right hand of God and worthy of all honor and glory. We have spent weeks looking at his glory and so I am only going to give you some highlights today. Notice those closest to the throne, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders (come off their thrones) worship by falling down and singing praise to God. These are the two highest orders of angelic creatures and their response to the worthiness of the Lamb is to fall down and sing of his worthiness and glory. Falling down is an act of humility, it says I am nothing and you are everything! Then you have the wider circle of angels, myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, too numerous to count, singing of his worthiness because he ransomed people for God. This hymn is the longest and most significant one in these two chapters, pointing to the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain who deserves all of heavens worship; the fullness of worship, nothing held back. If that is not enough all creation now joins in the worship. The worship of the Lamb is universal and undisputed in heaven. Jesus is the central figure of worship. His death which ransomed people for God was his path to glory.