Back to Blog
Humility in Exaltation
JOY OF THE CROSS
Terry R. Baughman
“He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:8–9).
In one of the most striking contrasts during the final week of His life, Jesus rode on the back of a donkey from the Mount of Olives toward the city of Jerusalem accompanied by the noisy acclaim of a hero’s welcome. People lined the street waving palm branches and spreading their cloaks on the road. It was like a red carpet reception. Many disciples and others proclaimed, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38).
It was a regal welcome and the closest thing to Him being proclaimed to be the Messiah. Yet the contrast was seen in the mode of transportation, a young donkey, a colt that had never been ridden. Rather than regal robes and fine silks on the runway, the path littered with outer tunics stained with sweat and the marks of honest labor. There was no pomp and circumstance, no prancing steeds or royal mounts, no soldiers marching or trumpets blaring, yet the procession became the triumphal entry of the Savior of the world; the King of Glory entering the city of His sacrifice for the last time. In the following verses Jesus wept over the knowledge of what was destined to happen shortly in this city.
While it seemed to be the high point of His career and the crowning accomplishment to the years of His public ministry, Jesus remained the humble servant focused on the mission at hand. Jesus is always our example. In times of exaltation or humiliation He remained constantly and consistently the meek and gentle savior. (See 2 Corinthians 10:1.) Our aspiration is to follow His example and to take on His attributes. Paul said, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5–7). He continues with the text above where He humbly accepted the death on the cross. Jesus submitted to this ultimate humiliation to provide the atonement for the sins of the world.
Because Jesus humbled Himself and submitted to gruesome death, the result was exaltation in glory. Paul continued, looking beyond His humiliation and death on the cross, and declared, “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, … and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:9–11).
Before His exaltation He endured humiliation, before being crowned with glory, He was crowned with thorns. His sacrifice and death preceded the resurrection and rejoicing. Perhaps it was with this ultimate result in view that He was able to “despise the shame,” and while anticipating the reward of life, He was able to endure the punishment of the cross. The writer of Hebrews said, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV).
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).