March 28, 2024

Exalted Savior Manuscript

SERMON TITLE: Exalted Savior
‌TEXT: Isaiah 25:6-9 (ESV)
‌SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
‌DATE: 3-31-24

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He is risen! He is risen indeed. As always it’s a joy to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And there’s one thing I want you to know — and this is true if you’re worshiping with us for the first time or are joining us at our North Main Campus — I want you to know that God loves you and that I love you too.


Spoiler alert — we’re going to be talking about Jesus’ resurrection today. I know, I know…what a surprise! Know that my hope — for our time together — is that what may be familiar news to many of us — and what may be profoundly unbelievable news to others of us — will be news that affects all of our views of Jesus this Easter — regardless if we think of ourselves as a Christian or not.

Last week, we saw the humility Jesus displayed in coming to earth — how he came as a humble servant. 

Pastor Robert then showed us how Jesus was our perfect sacrifice — how he was the fulfillment of the lambs that were killed on the original night of Passover.

The humble servant. The perfect sacrifice. And — now — we’ll see how Jesus is our exalted Savior. 


To exalt someone means to lift them up. It means we regard them as ranked above us and all others — in importance. And — because Easter is the day when we remember — not his death on the cross — but his defeat of the grave — for he is risen — the tomb is empty — death did not defeat him — he defeated death — and — because of this — we exalt him. We lift him up. We want to increase his importance in our lives — because he is the exalted Savior.

But — before we explore what it means for Jesus to be the exalted Savior — let’s turn to our text for this Easter morning. We’ll be in Isaiah chapter twenty-five. That’s Isaiah chapter twenty-five — beginning in verse six

Isaiah 25:6–9 (ESV)
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

This is quite the picture that the prophet Isaiah has described for us. You may have noticed how the word LORD is in all caps — the word GOD is in all caps once as well. This is how God’s name — Yahweh — is translated in our English Bibles. Yahweh — who often has a bad reputation of being a war-mongering, unloving, judgmental God compared to Jesus who’s merciful, loving, kind, and generous — but notice that — in our verses — Yahweh is preparing this rich feast of food and wine for his people.

Yahweh is removing a veil that’s been deceiving the nations from worshiping him. 

It’s Yahweh who will swallow up death — defeating it — forever. 

Yahweh who will wipe away his people’s tears — and who will remove the disgrace of his people.

What a very different view of God — as he reveals himself in the Old Testament — than the picture many have of him. A picture that’s a lie of who God is — and has revealed himself to be — both in the Old and the New Testaments. 

Christian or not — we don’t like it when people accuse us of being someone we’re not — and rightfully so. So let’s be careful to not do the same to God who’s revealed himself to us more truthfully, robustly, and authentically than we often make him out to be. 


I mentioned last week that — in our church tradition — we appreciate the theological clarity found in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The confession also has two catechisms — which are questions and answers to help instruct people on the Christian faith. One of the catechisms has more questions and longer answers — it was written for adults — and the other has fewer questions with shorter answers — written primarily for children.

The Larger Catechism — the one for adults — asks a question that’s relevant for us this Easter.

Q. 51. How was Christ exalted?
A. Christ’s exaltation includes his resurrection, ascension, sitting at the right hand of the Father, and coming again to judge the world.

Let’s briefly look at these aspects of Christ’s exaltation and see how this relates to the Savior Isaiah speaks of.


We’ll begin with words of the apostle Paul. He writes…

1 Corinthians 15:3–4 (NLT)
I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.

“He was raised on the third day just as the Scriptures said,” Paul says. And Christ is to be exalted — he’s to be considered more valuable than all others — because he defeated death. But I love how this simple truth is expanded on in the catechism. 

The catechism asks…

Q. 52. How was Christ exalted in his resurrection?
A. Christ’s exaltation in his resurrection began with his body not decaying, since it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. On the third day, he rose again from the dead by his own power and in the very same body with all its essential qualities in which he had suffered (but it was not subject to death and the other infirmities associated with this life), and it was truly united to his soul. By his resurrection, he plainly declared himself to be the Son of God, to have satisfied divine justice, to have conquered death as well as him who holds the power of death, and to be Lord of the living and the dead. He did all this as a general representative of humanity and as head of his church in order to justify believers, make them alive in his grace, support them against their enemies, and assure them that they too will be resurrected from the dead at the last day.

Wow. What an expansion of my feeble thoughts when I think about Christ’s resurrection and the reason I am to exalt him as my Savior.

For example, his body did not decay. Why? I love this from the catechism: Because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Or — as Peter said…

Acts 2:24 (NET)
24 But God raised him up, having released him from the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held in its power.

You see, Jesus’ resurrection is proof that he is the Son of God and accomplished all that he came to do — like: Satisfy divine justice. Conquer Satan and death. Make alive, justify, and support his people as they find themselves in a spiritual war. And he came to give his people assurance that they too will experience a resurrection from the dead. As Paul tells us…

Romans 1:4 (NLT)
He (Jesus) was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thus, Christ is to be exalted because of his resurrection — he’s to be lifted up and considered more valuable than he is right now in each of our lives.


Christ is also to be exalted because of his ascension. If you’re unfamiliar with the term — Jesus’ ascension is when he ascended to Heaven in front of his disciples after his death. This is how Luke records it.

Acts 1:6–11 (NLT)
6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” 7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

The catechism asks this question.

Q. 53. How was Christ exalted in his ascension?
A. Christ’s exaltation in his ascension began after his resurrection when he appeared to the apostles a number of times, talked to them about the kingdom of God, and commissioned them to preach the gospel to all nations. Forty days after his resurrection, in our human nature and as our head, he visibly went up into the highest heavens, triumphing over enemies. There he receives gifts for men, raises our minds, and prepares a place for us, where he himself is and shall continue to be until his second coming at the end of the world.

In the time between his resurrection and ascension Jesus gave the church her purpose.

Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV)
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This is why we exist as a church — “to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus Christ” — for this is what Jesus has commanded us to do as people who claim him as their exalted Savior. And — in defeating the grave — Jesus proved himself to be the only One able to rescue us from death. For his ascension to Heaven was a demonstration of his victory over death on our behalf. And — for this reason — we’re to exalt him.


This leads us to another question in the catechism.

Q. 54. How is Christ exalted by sitting at the right hand of God?
A. Sitting at the right hand of God exalts Christ as the God-man; he is advanced to the highest favor with God the Father with all the joy, glory, and power of this position over all things in heaven and earth. There Christ gathers and defends his church, subdues her enemies, provides his ministers and people with gifts and graces, and intercedes for them.

Here’s how Paul expresses these truths.

Romans 8:32–39 (NLT)
Since he (God the Father) did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one — for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one — for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Oh what reasons we have to exalt Christ because of where he is — right now — at his Father’s side! From this position of authority, Jesus is interceding on our behalf. He’s ensuring that overwhelming victory is the outcome for his people. He blesses his people with grace upon grace upon grace from this exalted position. And — as Paul says — due to what Christ is accomplishing at his Father’s right hand — we can be assured that we are — and will always be — loved by God. For God didn’t spare Jesus’ life — he sacrificed his Son in love for us. And — if God went this far in proving his love — we can be certain that nothing else can prevent him from continuing to love his people.

This too is a reason to exalt — to lift up — to make much of and praise and have joy in Jesus. For these amazing gifts and promises are ours because of what he is doing for us — right now — at his Father’s side.


Finally — Jesus will be exalted in his return. Our passage in Isaiah hinted at this — but before we return to it — let’s look at the catechism one last time.

Q. 56. How is Christ exalted by coming again to judge the world?
A. Coming again to judge the world exalts Christ, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men. His coming again at the last day in great power will fully reveal his own and his Father’s glory, and with all his holy angels, accompanied by a shout of command, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God, he will judge the world in righteousness.

As we saw last week — Christ will be exalted when he returns because…

Philippians 2:9–11 (NLT)
9 God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus was unjustly condemned to death. And it would be unjust of him to not judge those who oppose him. For two injustices don’t add up to equal justice. 

The idea of Jesus judging those who oppose him is a turn off to many. We like merciful Jesus — a guy who forgives everyone — and who never finds anyone guilty and deserving of eternal death.

In the end — though — we know this just doesn’t work. As author and pastor Erik Raymond illustrates.

“Suppose there’s a judge who is hearing the case of a corporate executive who’s embezzled millions of dollars and cheated his co-workers out of their life savings and pensions. The judge listens to hours of testimony from weeping and ruined victims. The facts of the case are undeniable. But after all has been said, he declares the executive to be “not guilty.” In pronouncing the judgment, he smiles warmly at the defendant and says, “Congratulations, you’re free to go.”

We can imagine the scene. The court would be in an uproar…but consider the even greater outrage when, upon being asked why he let the despicable criminal go, he said, “Because I’m a good judge.” 

No matter how good the judge may think he is — what he did was not justice — it was injustice. 


None deserve mercy — that’s what makes it mercy — it’s undeserved. And yet God — not because he has to or is bound to — but solely because it’s his choice — chooses to be merciful towards those who turn to his Son in faith. His mercy is a gift he offers to all — he’s offering you mercy today — but it’s a gift to be received. And only those who humble themselves — who make themselves low — as they exalt Jesus Christ as Savior — are those who will receive God’s mercy. Thus it would not be merciful for God to forgive those who refuse to turn to Jesus in faith — that would not be good — that would be injustice. But God is both merciful and just.

The mountain — that Isaiah mentioned — the mountain where the Lord of hosts will prepare a feast for his people and remove the veil that’s blinded their eyes — the mountain Isaiah referred to where death will be swallowed up forever — was an actual place. Isaiah had a location in mind — a specific spot on this planet where all of this would take place. Do you know where? 

Hundreds of years before Jesus would be crucified — Isaiah prophesied that this great feast of triumph and — one might say — overwhelming victory — would take place in Jerusalem. The city where Jesus was crucified — the city where his resurrection took place.

And — the promise for those who turn to Christ for their hope and salvation — who trust in him alone as their exalted Savior — is the promise of an eternal day in the New Jerusalem where God’s people will live, and feast, and drink, and be glad as they exalt their Savior. A day that will begin when Christ comes again with great power — accompanied by his holy angels. And there will be a loud shout — and a blast from a trumpet — signaling that his victory is complete. 

What kind of day will this be for you? One of famine or one of feasting? One of judgment or a day of everlasting joy? A day of praising your exalted Savior or your day of defeat by the one you thought was dead? May today be the day of your salvation. May today be your day of everlasting joy as you turn to the exalted One — Jesus Christ — and lift him up in praise as your Savior. Let’s pray together.


Heavenly Father, what reasons we have to exalt your Son — our Savior — Jesus Christ. For what love we’ve been reminded of today — your love for us. A love that nothing can separate us from.

Spirit of God, if anyone is doubting your love for them — bless them with assurance that comes only from you. Assurance isn’t something we can conjure up on our own — it too is a gift — a sweet blessing from you. Assure our hearts of your great love for us.

And — Jesus — we exalt you — for you are greatly to be praised. Thank you for leaving Heaven to come to earth to rescue your people. Thank you for all that you accomplished in your resurrection on our behalf. We praise you for all that you are doing for us — right now — interceding for us, blessing us, ensuring that overwhelming victory is ours, and sustaining us until the day when you will make all things new.

Father, Son, and Spirit — for any who hear my voice and have yet to bow their heart in humble submission — who’ve yet to confess with their mouth that Jesus is their Savior and Lord — lead them to repentance. Save them. Rescue them. Give them the joy and delight that’s found in knowing the name of the One who is exalted above all others. Thank you for doing this rescuing work that only you can do. Thank you for saving us despite us not deserving it. Thank you for being merciful and just. We pray all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


May you go exalting Jesus Christ as your Savior — for he is risen — he is risen indeed. Amen.

God loves you. I love you. You are sent.