So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:10-11 (ESV)
We continue to memorize one of the best Christological passages in all of Scripture: Philippians 2:5-13. In all of these verses, Paul’s desire isn’t just to present King Jesus to us; he desires to present King Jesus in us. Last week, we learned that Jesus humbled himself to the point of death for us. God has highly exalted Jesus to the highest place. This week, we will memorize Philippians 2:10-11.
As a high school and college student, I remember coming to my favorite cabin at New Life Camp: the Conquerors cabin. Back then, campers would usually take the opportunity to sign their name somewhere on the walls. But over the closet shelf, someone had inscribed this foreign phrase: Ἰησοῦς χριστὸς κύριος.
I had no idea what it meant and didn’t ask. But after returning to camp one summer following some study in Bible college, I saw that inscription again and not only understood that it was biblical Greek, but I also knew the translation: “Jesus Christ is Lord.” It’s the holiest graffiti I have ever read.
Little did I know then the depth of this same proclamation that Paul was making in our memory verses. Before we dive in, take a look at a promise from Isaiah 2:17: “And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day (emphasis mine).” Note that when the Old Testament translators use the word LORD in all caps, this is a substitute word for God’s divine name Yahweh. Ancient scribes were concerned with misusing this name, so they put the Hebrew name Adonai in as a reader’s note to say that word instead. It’s the Hebrew word for Lord. A day would come when all the proud would be humbled and Yahweh, the LORD, would be exalted. This came to pass when Israel was taken into exile.
Come back to Philippians 2:10-11. Wickedly proud humans rejected, despised, humiliated, and tortured Jesus on that cross. But one day, the Lion of Judah will take the throne as the Lamb that was slain. He is worthy of taking that throne and will be exalted on it. The royal court heralds will call out, “Behold, Jesus of Nazareth!” On that day, Paul says, Isaiah’s prophecy will be completely fulfilled. Every knee will bow. It doesn’t matter if it’s a creature in heaven, a human on earth, or subterranean dwellers – all knees will be bend. But it won’t be just their knees that submit; their tongues will submit as well. Everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to God’s glory.
I think Paul has more on the brain than just our English word lord. He has the divine name and perhaps Isaiah 2:17 in mind. Remember verse 9 from last week: God has given him “the name that is above every name.” What is the name above every name? There is only one: Yahweh. With this thought and Isaiah’s words in mind, allow me to give a possible translation to get at the full depth of verse 11: Every tongue will agree and openly acknowledge together that Jesus the Messiah is Yahweh, the true God, and King of heaven and earth. The Son will be exalted to the glory of the Father. He will prove once and for all, as he said on earth, that he and the Father are one. On that day, Yahweh, the LORD alone, will be exalted in Jesus.
O, Refuge Church, let’s make this confession now. Every day, we are to bow the knee and once again confess that the crucified and risen Jesus is Yahweh. We have tried to lift ourselves on the throne, only to find our proud and stubborn hearts broken. May we cast off this pride and kneel before this beloved King who humbled himself in our place. May we exalt him and cast down every idol our hands and hearts find. May we all humbly make the good confession both now and forever that Jesus Christ is Yahweh, King of the universe, to the glory of our Father in heaven.