Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista, Nativity, 1732
Acts 2:22-23, 32-33, 36-38
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The wind is blowing hard outside the window I’m sitting next to. The cold winds are finally arriving. As they do, I look up all of the scriptures in the bible (thanks to biblegateway.com!) that include the words “exalted” and “king”. I’m blown away by the ones I read that pertain to the incarnation. As I hear debris (and probably my front porch Christmas tree) blowing around on my front porch, I feel much of the meaningless activity I’ve done in the past couple of weeks blow away as well. What is left standing is the what is most important. This. That Christ has been exalted. And right now I feel He is exalted in my mind and heart in a very real way. I am cut to the heart as I should be when faced with the reality of Christ crucified and exalted. I find myself saying, “What shall I do?” And I’m thankful that He has already done it. Yet I do long to repent of any ways in which I do not live as if He is the most important thing in life.
He IS the most important thing. One of the rewards of Christ’s incarnation is that He was exalted after being nailed to the cross for us. And because He was exalted, He received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit which He has poured out in order that we might hear all of these truths of God.
He was exalted because He humbled Himself in human form.
He is given the name above every name because He humbled Himself and took the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man.
Every tongue will confess and every knee will bow because that Jesus Christ is Lord because He humbled Himself as He dwelled among us (Philippians 2:5-11).
So the reward is for Him. He deserves to be exalted. And yet—it is also for us. The writer of Hebrews says, “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever” (Hebrews 7:26-28).
We need an exalted high priest…one that is pure and holy…separated from us sinners. Above us. Perfect forever.
I love the Tiepolo Nativity artwork that I found for today. Take a look at it again and notice where each character is looking. I didn’t plan this, but I now notice how Joseph is looking down at baby Jesus in adoration and this is in contrast to how the one angel is looking up to Him as He knows He is the exalted Christ. Mary too, is looking up knowing this is God. I’ve looked at a lot of artwork on the nativity this month and I don’t think any of them portrayed Jesus in the manger exalted as well as this one.
As we come closer to Christmas day and the wrapping up of this month of incarnation gifts, I pray that we have all been touched in a way that has exalted Christ more in our hearts and minds. You have a witness to all of this that has happened and He lives in You.
Will you ask Him, with me, today to witness to your Spirit all of these truths and to move in you to repent in any ways needed or open new parts of your life up to Him? For…
“The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:30-32).
To do right now: Meditate on the verses above. Write a prayer or journal about what you’ve meditated on. Listen to Glory in the Highest.