By Jonathan Martin
As I’ve been thinking through what it means to pursue Christ exalting worship, I’ve found that one of the key things to remember is that Christ is in fact already exalted. Our first aim is to remind ourselves of that reality and realign ourselves with that reality.
As I lead worship it’s been important for me to remember that Christ has been lifted up in three key ways.
1. Jesus was lifted up on the cross
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Jesus is prophesying in this verse, but the prophecy proved true and Jesus was lifted up on the Cross so that all could look at Him, believe in Him, and have eternal life.
2. Jesus was lifted up from the grave
And I, when I am lifted up form the earth, will draw all people to myself.
Again, Jesus is prophesying about Himself, but the truth is that Jesus has been lifted up from the grave. That’s not just something to remember on Easter. That is something to remember week after week because with that “lifting” there is a promise, “I will draw all people to myself.” Jesus has been lifted, the promise will be fulfilled.
3. Jesus is lifted above all things and all people.
[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. For by Him all things were created…all things were created through Him and for Him. And he is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead…
Therefore God has highly exalted [Jesus] and bestowed on Him the name that is above all names so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus is already exalted and lifted up. Colossians shows us that He always has been. But then there is also a sense from Philippians in which, because of Jesus’s obedience and humility at the Cross, He is even more lifted up and given, by God, the name that is above all names. One day every single person will acknowledge this. One day everyone will participate in recognizing Christ’s exaltedness. For many this recognition of the reality will not be worship, it will simply be an admission of what is true.
It is important for me to remember these three things because it helps me know what my role is (and isn’t) every Sunday morning. I want to help my people to see Christ’s exaltedness here and now and worship Him week in and week out.
In light of the fact that Jesus is already exalted, I participate in further exalting Him as a worship leader in two key ways.
1. By pointing to the already lifted up and exalted state of Jesus.
He has already done all the heavy lifting. My job is to point to Him and what He has done. Week after week, day after day, moment by moment I’m constantly needing to both look to (for myself) and point to (for others) Him. By pointing to Christ’s exaltedness, I exalt Christ.
2. I acknowledge, resonate with, delight and participate in the fact that He is already exalted.
I let the revelation of Christ’s exaltedness lead to elation in Christ’s exaltedness…which leads to Him being exalted in my heart and on my lips. Since we are talking about worship, the hope is that this full revelation of Christ’s exaltedness will also mean that He becomes more exalted in my life as a whole. Becoming a living sacrifice, striving to see Jesus Lord as over my life, and surrendering in obedience is evidence of Christ being exalted in my heart.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
You see it in? Your love is BETTER. It is a fact. His love is elevated and exalted above life itself. Or maybe better said, His love is life itself. His love is greater than any other idea of what life is or could be. When I start to resonate with the beauty of this truth, I participate and further exalt Christ because my lips start praising.
I believe Lewis gives some further great insight into why this exaltation falls from our lips in light of glorious revelation.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment… – C. S. Lewis in Reflections on the Psalms
The final step of my job is to provide week after week opportunities for my people to complete their enjoyment in Christ’s exaltedness. It’s so unifying to be able to complete our enjoyment in Christ together.
In order to pursue Christ exalting worship, I believe that it is key that we start with the realization that Christ is already exalted. The more we as leaders can remember that, point to that, and encourage ourselves and others to resonate with this truth, the more we are going to see our churches participate in exalting Christ with both their lips and their lives week after week.
Jonathan Taylor Martin is the worship leader at Fellowship Raleigh. He and his wife, Emily, have also been heavily involved in traveling music ministry for the past 5 years and have released 2 orginal EPs within the last year. Championing the phrase, “Word in Worship,” Jonathan and Emily are songwriters and worship leaders that are passionate about creatively expressing the truth found in the Word of God.