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Monday, January 7, 2013

The Exaltation and Vindication of Christ

But here we must stand back for a moment to take account of two things. At this point a question is asked, "To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" and then the rest of the chapter is the answer to that question. That Arm of the Lord is God coming into this situation, coming in with skill, with power, with wisdom, with ability, to deal with it and to clear it up. And the chapter says that the Cross is the Arm of the Lord, coming in against this whole condition. The Arm of the Lord is against this state of things. That is the first thing.

But there is something further. The Arm of the Lord comes in with a new condition, a certain, clearly-defined end, in view, which is nothing less than the exaltation and vindication of Jesus Christ. That is our second thing. The Arm of the Lord is for that, but His exaltation and vindication demand that the Cross shall clear up this situation. Of course that gathers the New Testament into it: it was because the situation was cleared up at Calvary that Jesus was exalted and vindicated. Note that the exaltation and vindication of Christ is in power and posterity. Those two things bound this section. Right at the beginning (52:13) we have: "My Servant ... shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high." And then, towards the end of the section (53:10, 11): "He shall see His seed ... He shall see of the travail of His soul ..." In power: "very high;" in posterity: "His seed" - in other words, His Church.

Now, that brings matters very closely home to us, because the first challenge of all this is our concern for Christ's exaltation and Christ's vindication. That is the issue that is raised. Let us ask ourselves, individually, this question: 'How much am I, personally, really concerned for the exaltation and vindication of the Lord Jesus?' If you were asked this question, personally, in private conversation, I have no doubt you would say: 'I am very greatly concerned about it. Indeed, there is nothing that I would desire and work for more than for His exaltation and vindication. What greater thing have we to live for or work for than this?' You would say that, I am sure. But do we realize that the proof of our concern, and that which measures our concern, is our preparedness to accept the Cross? There is no way to the exaltation and vindication of the Lord Jesus other than the way of the Cross. We shall prove whether we really are concerned, and, if so, how much we are concerned, by the extent to which we are prepared to accept in ourselves this work of the Cross, clearing up every situation that is dishonoring to the Lord.

The Cross The Only Way To This

It is so easy for us to talk or preach about the exaltation of the Lord Jesus, His enthronement, His glorifying - it is wonderful to talk about these things; and of course, this Church of His, the Church of Christ, the Church which is His Body, is a very great thing - the great Masterpiece of God. Yes, we like to talk about it. But the test as to whether all this has a grip upon our inward life is just how much we will let the Cross work in us: for these great things - His exaltation and His Church - are not possible of realization, except by the work of the Cross in believers.

This is a challenge which arises a once, and it is very searching. It will come to that, sooner or later, in any case, as we go on with the Lord. All our language, all our talk, and all our pretensions, will be challenged by this. The Lord will say: 'Yes, but are you prepared to allow the Cross to work in you in this particular matter, and in that - in that particular relationship, in this thing about yourself, and in that thing in your connections?' The answer to that will prove whether after all we have a concern for Christ's exaltation and vindication. Our concern for these will be shown in our estimate of, and our attitude toward, the Cross.

If, on the other hand, we take the line: 'Oh, we have heard so much about the Cross; it is this one-track thing' - if we can take any such attitude as that, in any way to belittle the Cross, or make it something less than God has made it; if our attitude can be one which under-estimates the importance of the Cross: then that is proof that we have not yet become inwardly gripped by this concern for the exaltation of the Lord Jesus.

Do not forget that He Himself would never have been exalted, but for His Cross. That was that mighty "Wherefore ..." Wherefore? "Becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the Cross. Wherefore ... God highly exalted Him ..." (Phil. 2:8, 9). But for the Cross, He would never have been exalted; and, in principle, He never is exalted, except in so far as there is a work of the Cross in His people. It is so clear, is it not, that, if the Cross has not dealt with things in you and in me, the Lord Jesus cannot be glorified in our lives. And as for His Church - the Church would never have come into existence but for the Cross, and, but for the Cross, it can never have a present expression. Its beginning, its continuation, its growth, its consummation, are always by the law of the Cross; and every bit of addition to, or increase in, the Church, whether spiritually or numerically, is by means of the Cross. There is no other way. So it is a very real test and very real challenge to us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "The Cross Positive, Not Negative")

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