Jesus. No other name is more hated and more loved.
Years ago, I had a job at Trojan Nuclear Plant in the Training Department. Most of my co-workers were ex-Navy guys as I was. And they were prone to do a lot of cursing. And one of their favorite curse words was “Jesus.” And I remember how I would cringe when I heard them using His name in that derogatory way. Silently, I’d pray “Lord, forgive them.” But its striking to consider that amongst the various curse words that people use, “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” is among the most popular.
By way of contrast, we have gathered here today to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. We’ve prayed in His name. Sung songs about Him. And are now looking to His Word that He might instruct us in matters related to His Church. We are here, as Philippians 3:3 puts it, to “worship in the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus.”
The name of Jesus, which is despised by some, is adored by others.
Now we want to continue our study here in this incredibly important and relevant text, Philippians 2:9-11. But before we do, we need to define some terms that we find here in this passage. It will prove necessary for us to have a good grasp on these terms if we are going to understand.
Name. The term “name” is used three times in verses 9 and 10. Generally speaking the term “name,” as it is used in Scripture, represents not just one’s identity, but the total person—their character, authority, rank, power, etc. And names were frequently given by God not merely to identify a person, but to identify them in their office or specific role in relationship to God. For example, Abram—whose name meant “exalted father”—was given the name Abraham (“father of a multitude”), after God reaffirmed to him the covenant He made through which He promised to make Abraham “the father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:5). That’s just one example, but there are many more. God gave Jacob the name Israel which means “he who strives with God” (Genesis 32:28). Jesus gave “Cephas” the name “Peter” (which means “rock or stone”).
So, the name speaks to more than Jesus’ identity. By the way…we use the name Jesus (at least we should use it) in this sense. When it says those who “believe in His name” are given the right to become children of God, it is not speaking there about merely believing in His identity. Its speaking about belief in His person. And when we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we are not adding some kind of magical formula at the end of our prayers that guarantees that we will get what we want, we are submitting our prayers to the person of Jesus, His character, His purpose, His plan, and His will.
This passage speaks a lot about the name of Jesus, and you might note that He is referred to in a couple of ways. The passage uses the singular name “Jesus.” And it also uses the two names together, “Jesus Christ.” It also speaks of the truth that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” And all these terms are of great importance.
So, by way of introduction, let’s take a brief look at each of these names. And we are going to do this backwards, leaving the name “Jesus” for last.
Lord = Greek “kurios” = “having power or authority.” It was used in that day of owners and masters and fathers and such. It was also used in the Septuagint version of the OT to translate the term Jehovah. Jesus used the title in reference to Himself (Matthew 7:21). Then in his first sermon, Peter applied the term to Jesus, saying, “God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). Following the resurrection, with two exceptions (Acts 10:14; Revelation 7:14), there is no record of believers using the term kurios in addressing anyone except God and the Lord Jesus. In other words, following the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, as far as believers in Christ were concerned, there was only worthy of the title Lord, and that was Jesus. And in reference to Jesus the term is used in a very practical and relevant fashion in other texts:
- Salvation is to those who confess Him as Lord. Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”
- The believer is exhorted to set apart Jesus as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.”
Christ. The term means “anointed” and speaks to Jesus’ identity as the Messiah of Israel. When Jesus asked His disciples of their understanding of His identity, Peter responded by saying, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). And Jesus affirmed Peter because, by divine revelation, Peter understood the truth about Jesus. Later, following Christ’s resurrection and the out-pouring of the Spirit, Peter would declare: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). And we should note, that in this very first sermon of Peter, the first sermon preached, we have the same terms used of Jesus that we find in Philippians 2:9-11.
Jesus. The term is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name “Joshua.” It was a common name up to the second century. The term itself means “Jehovah saves.” That’s the meaning of the name. It is a name which expresses Christ’s humanity. Now if we are going to appreciate the meaning of His name, “Jehovah saves,” we need to do a little background study.
The name “Jehovah” occurs over 6000 times and in every period of biblical Hebrew. Because it was written without the vowels, there is some debate regarding its exact pronunciation. So sometimes you will hear it as “Jehovah” and sometimes as “Yahweh.” It is the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses. Exodus 3:13-14, “Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” The NASB has a note regarding this expression, “I am,” which says: “Related to the name of God, YHWH, rendered LORD, which is derived from the verb HAYAH, to be.” So that’s where “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” comes from. The name speaks to His self-existent nature and therefore His identity as our Creator God.
Now, Jehovah hears of the troubles of Israel, enslaved in Egypt as they were. And He sends forth Moses as a deliverer. And through God’s mighty hand the people are redeemed from Egypt. And Moses and Israel respond by singing a song to the Lord. We read of what they had to say in Exodus chapter 15. But in Exodus 15:2 these say, “The Lord (Jehovah) is my strength and song and He has become by salvation.” Jehovah, the self-existent One (the creator), is also our Savior. He has worked to redeem us from slavery in Egypt and to set us free to serve Him.
As God has chosen His people. And works to bring them into the promised land, He prescribes to them certain laws regarding the temple, the priesthood, and sacrifices, etc. And these all are a part of His plan and speak to His provision of a future redeemer, the Messiah of Israel.
And this phrase, “The Lord has become my salvation,” is a phrase that speaks to all of this. The fact that God worked to redeem His people from captivity and the fact that He has promised a future deliverer. So, the phrase is repeated elsewhere:
- Psalm 18:2, “The Lord (Jehovah) is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.”
- Isaiah 12:2, “For the Lord God (Jehovah) is my strength and song, and He has become by salvation” (And Psalm 18:14).
Remember what I said, the name “Jesus” means “Jehovah saves.” And the name Jehovah is the name by which God disclosed Himself to His people. A Name which speaks to His self-existence and therefore His identity as the Creator. And we should note that Jesus repeatedly used that expression, “I Am,” in reference to Himself. In fact, on one occasion—during his arrest—He asked the arresting mob, “Whom do you seek?” They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” And then Jesus said, “I am” (John 18:5). The English text adds the word “He” in italics, but it’s not in the original. He said literally “I Am.” And do you know what happened when Jesus the Nazarene—who was purposing to go the cross to die for our sins—said “I Am” to that group of people? “Where therefore He said to them, ‘I Am,’ the drew back and fell to the ground.” Just a little side note.
But when Jesus was born we are told something about His name that is very important. We read of it in Matthew chapter 1, verses 18-23. The angel’s instructions were explicit. The baby was to be given a particular name. A name which was in keeping with His particular office and purpose. It was also in keeping with all that was and is true about our God and in keeping with all that was prophesied regarding Him in Scripture. The name is more than just His name, it represented all that was true of God in salvation. Jesus means “Jehovah saves.”
Embodied in that name is the nature and character of God. The types and prophecies of the Old Testament. The purposed work of Jesus in dying in the cross. The finished work of Jesus. His death, resurrection, and ascension. And His return. In the beginning of our Bibles we read of the One who would come and bruise the head of Satan. In the end of our Bibles we read about the Lamb who was slain and purchased for God men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And central to it all is this truth which we’ve read about in Philippians 2:5-8, how God became man and died on a cross for our sins.
I’ve said before that you could summarize the message of the Bible in four words—“Man sins; God saves.” And the name “Jesus” embodies these truths—“Jehovah saves.” The main message of the entirety of your Bible is summed up in that one word—that one name—Jesus.
Now sometimes in Scripture we find Jesus referred to in alternative ways. Sometimes he is referred to as “Jesus Christ,” as we have it here in verse 11. And other times we find it in the reverse order, “Christ Jesus.” Rarely do we find the simple term “Jesus” in the NT epistles as it is used here. And it appears twice.
The disciples John and Peter and James and Jude refer to Jesus by using the two names in the order “Jesus Christ.” And, of course, these men knew Him first by His human name and only fully comprehended that He was the Christ after His resurrection. So, they used the name that reflected that.
The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, almost always referred to Jesus by using the two names “Christ Jesus.” And the difference for Paul was that he first encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, and he encountered Him as the ascended Lord.
And as I’ve said, the name “Jesus” on its own is not typically found in the epistles. So, the fact that it is found this way here is noteworthy. As was mentioned before, the name emphasizes His humanity. It was the name given to the human baby Jesus. But embodied in Jesus and the name was the truth already spoken of—the truth that Jehovah saves. But Jesus was His human name and as the God-become-man He humbled Himself in obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted Him, that is Jesus and gave Him the name which is above every name.
The Preeminence of the Name:
In its Source
We read in Genesis chapter 11 how the residents of earth decided to build a tower, the tower of Babel. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” And it is obvious that in sin this is something that we humans are inclined to do—“to make a name for ourselves.”
But Jesus didn’t make a name for Himself, God gave Him that name. Note what the text says, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (2:9).
“Bestowed” translates the Greek term “charizomai” which is the verb form of the term “grace.” It means to show favor, grant or bestow. God “graced” Him with the name. Now some are troubled by the fact that the giving of the name actually took place at His birth. And they can’t understand how it would be that God would bestow the name on Him at a subsequent time. But there is no contradiction here. That name which was given to Him at His birth was affirmed in Him in His death for sins and resurrection from the dead. Romans 1:4 speaks of how Jesus Christ was “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.” Wasn’t Jesus already the Son of God before the resurrection? Of course, He was (and is). But what was true of Him was affirmed and declared through His resurrection. And in the same manner, His name Jesus, meaning “Jehovah Saves” was affirmed in every way when He completed His saving work on the cross.
Hebrews 1:3b-4 puts it this way: “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”
So, keep that in mind, next time you hear someone using “Jesus” name for a curse word. That name was a name given to Him by God Himself.
In its Station
“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (2:9).
God graced Jesus with a name that is above every name. We read in the book of Acts of how Jesus sent forth His disciples to bear witness of Him. And their efforts were met with both success and opposition. In Acts chapter 4 we read of how the religious leaders threatened Peter and John, commanding them “to peak no more to any man in this name (i.e. the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). And of course, they refused to abide by that. They kept on preaching. So, the apostles were put in jail again. But an angel of the Lord set them free. The religious leaders captured them again and reminded them how they had given them “strict orders not to continue teaching in this name” (Acts 5:28). The religious leaders were befuddled as to what to do with these men. So, they held a council. And Gamaliel stood up and said (Acts 5:35-39):
“Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So, in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
And, of course, the apostles kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. But we should note that there were others that were claiming to be somebodies, and their plans and actions came to not. And since those days, two thousand years ago, there have been plenty of nobodies claiming to be somebodies, and their plans and actions came to not. And in our day, there are still plenty of nobodies claiming to be somebodies, and their actions will come to not. But not so with Jesus. He’s been given the name that is above every name.
Someone has compiled a list of the top ten famous people in all of human history. They compiled the list according to the number of Google searches done on these names and the approximate number of books written about them. Here’s the list:
#10: Sir Isaac Newton
#9: Leonardo da Vinci
#8: William Shakespeare
#7: Adolf Hitler
#6: The Apostle Paul
#5: Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)
#1: Jesus of Nazareth
He’s number one on that list right now—a list compiled according to the number of Google searches and approximate number of books written about Him—but to-be-sure not everyone would put Him at the top of their list. There will come a day when He will be at the top of everyone’s list.
Years ago, a man wrote something he called “One Solitary Life”: “Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.
In its Sway
Note the repeated use of the word “every.” His name is above EVERY name. EVERY knee will bow to Him. EVERY tongue will confess Him.
There have been a lot of despots in the history of men who have endeavored to rule over people by force. At the time in which Paul wrote this epistle Caesar reigned over an empire which included about 57 million people. Hitler tried to rule the world, but failed. Mao Tse Tung ruled over some 1 billion people as the communist dictator. His government was responsible, through famine, executions, and other means—for the deaths of approximately 50 million people. There are today rulers in our world who would love to bring every human being on this planet into submission—the rulers of N. Korea, Iran, and ISIS—to name a few.
The Psalmist spoke prophetically of such things in Psalm 2:
1Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the Lord with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
Note the repetition of the word “every.” Then note this reference to the extent of His exaltation over all—“those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth” (2:10).
You will find the same truth spoken of, with minor differences, in other passages:
Ephesians 1:20b-21, “Seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.”
Revelation5:13, “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
So, we have these three realms of existence—in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. Someone has referred to them as the “celestial, terrestrial, and infernal.”
So, when we speak of the celestial (above the earth) we are speaking of the angelic host. And these, of course, have always been employed in the worship of God (i.e. Isaiah chapter 6). But the angels struggle to comprehend something which we ourselves have experienced. The angels in heaven do not sin. And because of that they don’t experience the grace and mercy of God in salvation. Peter writes of the greatness of the salvation we have received in 1st Peter. He speaks of how the prophets of old sought to understand what the Spirit of Christ was speaking of with regards to the “sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow” (1 Peter 1:11). What they sought to understand has been declared to us in the gospel (1 Peter 1:12). Now note what it says in verse 12—“things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12). The term translated “long to look” means to “gain a clear glimpse.” It’s like that little child who stands on his tippy toes to look over a fence to get a better vision of something. And what are text is saying is that all the angelic host will bow the knee to Jesus in the wonder and reverence as to what He has done in saving sinners.
And then we have the terrestrial. And this will include people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. It will include people from every class and race and status—men and women, rich and poor, famous and infamous. It will not matter. It includes people of all differing religious beliefs—atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, and every imaginable cult. In includes all of us and all of our loved ones and friends. Includes all of those around the earth who are even now being persecuted for their faith in Jesus and it includes even their persecutors. It includes all of those who exalt themselves in their own pride and power in this day, who are negligent of the reality that it is Jesus who is the “ruler of the Kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5). Every means every. The scope of what is spoken of here is beyond anything we can now comprehend. There will be a kind of counterfeit duplication of this during the tribulation when the antichrist reigns for a time. But Jesus will reign in this lofty place for all eternity.
Then we have the “infernal.” That realm of existence which is “under the earth.” And what is spoken of here is the demon realm. Even the demonic realm will be brought into total subjection to Him. It is even now defeated. Colossians 2:15, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” And you say, “But why are they still free to work in their evil ways?” They are for now, but their ultimate doom is assured through the death and resurrection of Jesus. They are like those Japanese warriors—on remote islands–who continued to fight on, though the second world war had long since ended. They haven’t got them memo.
Homer Kent, “’This universal acknowledgment will include angels and departed saints in heaven, people still living on earth, and the satanic hosts and lost humanity in hell…Every’ indicates a universal acknowledgment of Christ’s sovereignty, even by his enemies. Paul does not imply a universal salvation but means that every personal being will ultimately confess Christ’s lordship, either with joyful faith or with resentment and despair.”
In its Strength
“Every knee will bow…every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (2:10-11).
The statements are from Isaiah 45:23. And we have here the language that is associated with the expected response of subjects to a King. In this case we are speaking of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There will come a day when all will be subjugated to Him. They will bow the knee and confess His Lordship in humble reverence and submission.
Our text is associated with the second coming. And we should note that there is a radical difference between the nature of His first coming and His second coming. As Adrian Rogers put it: “He came the first time to die; He is coming again to raise the dead. When He came the first time, they questioned whether He was King; the next time the world will know that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The first time He wore a crown of thorns; the next time He will be wearing a crown of glory. The first time He came in poverty; the next time He is coming in power. The first time He had an escort of angels; the next time He will come with ten thousand of His saints. The first time He came in meekness; He is coming again in majesty.”
How is this going to happen? Note what it says at the end of Philippians 3:21. He has the power to “subject all things to Himself.” By that power He will bring all into subjection.
Now this is going to happen in one of two ways. There are those who have already confessed Him to be Lord. Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” We are speaking here of believers. He is, for us believers, our Savior and Lord. We even now bow the knee to Him in humble submission and worship.
But that vast majority of folks are not now in this position. But He has the power and right to bring them to this point. And He will. That does not mean that they are going to be saved, but they will nonetheless be brought into complete subjection to Him.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 speaks to His second coming: “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His might angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.”
British historian H.A.L. Fisher once said: “Men wiser and more learned than I have discovered in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. These harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following upon another as wave follows upon wave . . . nothing but the play of the contingent and the unforeseeable.” But things are moving towards a God ordained destiny.
There is indeed a predetermined pattern to which history is inevitably destined. The long war against God that started with Satan when he rebelled against God with a third of the angels of heaven; that long war that, on man’s side of things, started when Satan tempted Eve and Adam and Eve fell in sin. That long war which has been going on for centuries past. Where the forces of good and evil have raged against each other. That long war will come to a conclusion one day. The Lord Jesus has already triumphed through His death and resurrection. And there will come a day when He will return and “Judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31). And on that day, all will be brought into complete submission to Him.
You wonder where things are headed in this world? This is where they are headed. Christ will reign over all.
Now what does this mean to you? If you are here as one who has not sincerely trusted in Jesus for salvation it means you have some soul-searching to do. You will bow the knee to Jesus one day. The question is will you do that in adoration and gratitude as one of His own or will you be compelled to do that, as a vanquished foe.
Isaiah 45:22-23 speaks to this. Our text quotes part of this passage. It also speaks to God’s desire that you look to Him to salvation: “Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God and there is no other. I have sworn to Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back. That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.”
A 15-year-old teenager headed off to church, as he normally did on Sunday mornings. But there was a blizzard that day and the heavy snow kept him from going to his usual place of worship. Instead he found himself in a Primitive Methodist Church. As a young man, from a long line of Pastors, he knew all about Christianity, but he didn’t know Christ. Later he would write of those days, “It was my sad lot to feel the greatness of my sin without a discovery of the greatness of God’s mercy.” The Primitive Methodist Church almost didn’t open that morning, but the caretaker, thinking that a few people might show up, opened the doors and lit the stove. By 11:00 some 12-15 people had come inside, but not the Pastor. He had apparently been unable to get there because of the snow. Finally, one of the laymen of the congregation reluctantly took the pulpit. As he looked down, he could see the small congregation, hundreds of empty seats, and the young 15-year-old boy seated under the gallery. The text for his sermon was “Look unto me, and be ye saved” (Isaiah 45:22), and after about ten minutes of repeating himself, the man was about to step down from the pulpit. But before he did, he addressed the teenager. “Young man,” he said, “you look very miserable, and you will always be miserable if you don’t obey my text. But if you do obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” He paused again, then shouted at the young man with more animation, “Young man, look to Jesus! Look! Look! Look!” That young man was Charles Spurgeon. Years later Spurgeon wrote of his experience, “There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness was rolled away.” And there are some here today—at this end of the earth—who need to look to Jesus for salvation. We are all sinners. We are all deserving of God’s judgment. There is but One way by which any person can be saved. Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. Salvation is by grace through faith in Him. Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” And it is left to every man in this particular dispensation of time—confess Him now and be saved OR confess Him later as a vanquished foe.
Now if you are here as one who has trusted in Jesus, you even NOW confess Him as Lord. You even NOW glory in His name and in His salvation. But you see the events in this world. You face tribulations and even some degree of persecution. You see in the news how the name of Jesus is met with disdain and hatred. People scoff at Him, His word, and the very prospect of His soon return. But be encouraged. Jesus has triumphed. We’ve read the end of the book and we know about its conclusion. Jesus wins! And so, do all those who have been born again through faith to eternal life in Him.
We live in anticipation of the day when all things will be reconciled to Him. And even now we recognize where things are headed in this world. The spiritual battle we are now engaged in won’t go on forever. It will come to a conclusion. And every being in God’s creation will be brought into subjection to Him. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 speaks to this: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the others an aroma from life to life.”
Vernon Grounds, “What’s in that name? All the grace of God, all the wonder of redemption, all that we believe, and all that we are hoping for. We say it, we sing it, and adoration fills our souls. We anticipate the indescribable glory of that day when every knee will bow and every tongue, by glad choice or by divine constraint, will praise that highest and holiest of all names–Jesus!”
In his book, “Approaching Hoofbeats,” Billy Graham wrote of what took place under the Christian persecution in Rome. “Imagine a village,” he wrote,” in the suburbs of Ephesus or Laodicea. Christian believers are at work tanning leather, dying cloth, harvesting crops, raising families, studying math and history—at worship, at work, or at play. Then, suddenly, hoofbeats are heard clattering up the nearby cobbled streets. The horses are reined in by a Roman centurion and his honor guard. A leather camp table is unfolded. An incense burner is placed upon the table. A flame is lit. Heralds sound the trumpets. There is no place to hide, no time to decide. Believers must join their neighbors in that line. Just ahead the village mayor tosses his incense into the flames and exclaims proudly, ‘Caesar is Lord.’ Others follow. The line ahead grows shorter. The moment of decision draws near. Will the Christian avoid the conflict and protect his life and security with the simple act of obedience? Will he mutter ‘Caesar is Lord’ and sneak back home to safety? Or, will he recognize that act as a symbol of a wider disobedience, refuse the incense, proclaim ‘Jesus is Lord’ and pay the price for disloyalty to the state?
What would you do? What are you even now doing in response to the cultural pressures that now work to suppress the truth and conform you to its own way of thinking and living. The believer in Christ is one who has already confessed Jesus as Lord. We are exhorted to set Him apart as Lord in our hearts. And we do that for good reason. He, the One who died for our sins and rose from the dead, has ascended to the right hand of God. He reigns even now as Lord over all. And He’s coming again.