Lent 6–Palm Sunday 2014

Palm Sunday
Philippians 2:5-11
April 13, 2014 A+D

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Have this mind in yourself, which was also in Christ Jesus: be humble. To be proud, to think more of yourself than you should, to expect others to serve and admire you, or to despair of your worth, to hate your body and what God has given, is to engage in idolatry. Both errors make you the center of attention. Christ was humble but He did not despise Himself any more than He despised His neighbor. Rather, His humility acted itself out in patience and obedience in love for His Father and His neighbor.

This is the humility that you are called to: a humility of patience and obedience, a humility that serves. We live, however, in a narcissistic, hedonistic age. Obedience is seen as weakness. Patience is derided as fear. Humility is considered almost to be a vice. This is not just a problem for pagan Americans. This is a problem for us all. Repent.

Christ was humble. Though He existed before all creation in the Eternal Godhead, He did not cling with all His might to the prerogatives and privileges of His divinity. He did hold His equality with the Father and the Spirit jealously or ambitiously. In love, He was ready to divest Himself of the glories of heaven, to take our mortal nature upon Himself even though it meant for Him pain like no other mortal has ever endured. He humbled Himself. He took up our flesh. He joined our cause. He became a mortal, subject to betrayal, torture, and death.

In this great humility, He remained steadfast in His obedience. That obedience would not allow Him to consider calling forth the holy angels to fight in His defense and it certainly wouldn’t allow Him to come down from the cross or heal Himself. Nor would it allow Him to give in to anger or take any honor. In obedience to His Father, He submitted to evil, petty men, to two kangaroo courts, for the sake of the very men who condemned and murdered Him. He submitted to their execution. It was not a common death, such as we might hope for. The Lord was beaten and whipped and crucified. He died not only with torture of body and soul, but also with the deepest shame. For He died as the lowest malefactor, the worst and most despicable of men. He was counted with child molesters and kidnappers, with treasonous soldiers who shoot their comrades, and with men who carry out their perversions by violence.

Let this mind, this obedience and patience, be also in you. Do not hold your honor or privileges as essential. Submit in love. Serve your neighbor, your wife, your children. Do not be lazy at work and do not gossip about your co-workers. Turn the other cheek.

And know this: to follow the example of Christ’s humility is also to participate in His resurrection. The Father, who forsook Him on the cross and made Him an oblation and holocaust for our salvation, also raised Him to preeminent height. He gave Him the Name above all names, above all dignities and titles. His prerogatives and privileges have all been restored along with His equality, but He does not leave behind His assumed humanity. He is raised from the dead, Body and Soul, and the Name above all names, above all dignities and titles, that to which every creature will bow, is the human Name: Jesus. That Name means “the Lord, Yahweh, saves.” Along with the marks left by nails and spear, it is His greatest glory and honor to be called not just the “Lord who is,” or even “the Lord who provides,” but to be called “the Lord who saves”: Jesus.

Your God is a Man, crucified and risen and ascended for you. You then are not just a creature, indistinct from whales and chimpanzees, an animal trying to find your way in this world. You are His beloved, the One He sought and rescued at terrible price. The earth, the sun and stars, the entire Universe is here to serve you. Though you were a little lower than the angels, you are elevated in Him to the inner sanctum of the Holy Trinity. You call His Father your Father and His Spirit your Spirit and He, Himself, is your Brother and your Bridegroom. You are the reason the earth is not destroyed and your repentance is the cause of angelic rejoicing.

It turns out that obedience to His Law is not a burden: it is joy and a privilege to be part of His Kingdom. Patience is not a cross: it is a blessing and a building anticipation. For the Christian,  the very Bride of Christ, humility is purest honor. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9, ESV)

In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Bookmark the permalink.