All Things Subject to the Risen Christ

Philippians 3:20-21

Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

These verses assume something stupendous. And we must make that plain before we marvel at what is here. And that is my goal—that you would marvel at what is here. That you would marvel at the One who is spoken of here. And that is not just my aim. It’s God’s aim for you as well. I say that because in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:10) God’s word says concerning Christ’s second coming, “He comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.” The aim of history is: the people of God marveling at the majesty of Jesus Christ. So that’s my aim this Easter Sunday morning—that you will marvel at what is revealed of Christ in Philippians 3:20-21.

But something is assumed here, and we must make that plain before we can marvel with understanding. And that is the only kind of marveling that matters. Marveling with understanding. If someone tricks you into marveling and makes you think they’ve done something great when they haven’t, your marveling doesn’t make much of them, it makes a fool of you. Only marveling with understanding makes much of the One who is true and beautiful.

So something is assumed here in Philippians 3:20-21. What is assumed is that Jesus was raised from the dead and is now alive and very powerful—to put it mildly. The reason Paul can assume this here is that he said it in chapter two. So we should go back there and make it explicit and clear. Philippians 2:6-11 describes the eternal deity of Christ, the incarnation of Christ, the obedient death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the reign of Christ over all the universe. It is an amazing passage. You will never read anything anywhere in any literature more sweeping and important and true than this:

Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, 8 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.

So Christ was and is equal with God. He is God. He became also a human being. He obediently suffered and died. Obediently. That means God the Father told him to do it. That means it was a planned death. And the point of the plan was that the Christ be a substitute for the damnation of all human sinners who would trust in Jesus. As it says in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” He bore our damnation as a substitute. This was God’s loving plan for the salvation of sinners like us who deserve hell. That’s why it says in verse 8, “He was obedient to the point of death.” He wasn’t just dying. He was obeying. God had a plan. God gave a command. The Son was fulfilling it, willingly, obediently. The plan was, “Be a substitute for the damnation of all who will believe in you. Bear for them my holy and just curse, and I will make them my children—fellow heirs with you of everything I own.”

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