By His Own Power

23 November 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 51. What was the estate of Christ's exaltation?
A. The estate of Christ's exaltation comprehendeth his resurrection, ascension, sitting at the right hand of the Father, and his coming again to judge the world.

Q. 52. How was Christ exalted in his resurrection?
A. Christ was exalted in his resurrection, in that, not having seen corruption in death, (of which it was not possible for him to be held,) and having the very same body in which he suffered, with the essential properties thereof, (but without mortality, and other common infirmities belonging to this life,) really united to his soul, he rose again from the dead the third day by his own power; whereby he declared himself to be the Son of God, to have satisfied divine justice, to have vanquished death, and him that had the power of it, and to be Lord of quick and dead: all which he did as a public person, the head of his church, for their justification, quickening in grace, support against enemies, and to assure them of their resurrection from the dead at the last day.

Q. 53. How was Christ exalted in his ascension?
A. Christ was exalted in his ascension, in that having after his resurrection often appeared unto and conversed with his apostles, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and giving them commission to preach the gospel to all nations, forty days after his resurrection, he, in our nature, and as our head, triumphing over enemies, visibly went up into the highest heavens, there to receive gifts for men, to raise up our affections thither, and to prepare a place for us, where himself is, and shall continue till his second coming at the end of the world.

Houdini was a master showman and an unparalleled escape artist. He would allow men to shackle him, put him into a locked chest, and then dump him into the water. He would then emerge unscathed from his ordeal, thrilling the gathered crowds at his ability to cheat death.

Nobody wanted to see a drowned Houdini. At least, not any person with a heart. They wanted to see him defy death. They would watch him plunge, bound in chains, into certain doom with bated breath, and then cheer as he rose victorious over his shackles. Houdini's fame lay in the fact that he escaped, not simply in the fact that he was bound, but that he escaped. But not even Houdini could escape the trap of death; he, like us, was bound by the cords of death like every other man.

Jesus of Nazareth was no Houdini. He did not challenge men to bind him in chains and throw him into the sea. He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). The shackles that Jesus wore were fashioned by man, but not out of iron or steel, they were fashioned from sin and held its prisoners fast in the depths of death. No one had ever escaped death. This was no parlor trick. Jesus was nailed to the cross, speared in the side, laid in the tomb, sealed with a rock, guarded by Roman soldiers, and mourned by his friends.

And on the third day, he cast off death. The angels rolled the stone away from his tomb, not so Jesus could get out, but so his disciples could get in and see that he was risen indeed. This is the exaltation of Jesus Christ; not that he cheated death, but that he defeated it. His resurrection from the dead is God's declaration that Jesus is both Lord and Christ, that he is the yes and amen of every promise of God, and that he is the man chosen by God to set the children free from the fear of death.

One day, you and I will feel the cold fetters of death fasten about our mortal coil. We will be put in a grave and mourned by our friends. In that day, we will join the rest of the witnesses of Christ and wait with bated breath for Christ to do what only he can do: free our bodies from the shackles that bind them, and glorify them as he himself is glorified. Death will flee from us with a shout from the one who has mastered him: Jesus the Christ, the man whom death could not hold.