Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly with all wisdom.
Text: 5) Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7) but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8) And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! 9) Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Introduction: Have you ever gotten a mountain-top view of things? Perhaps you’ve climbed or driven through one on the great American mountain ranges, such as the
On the first Palm Sunday, the crowd of people heading toward
It’s my Palm Sunday prayer that God would move us all to higher spiritual ground. And that by the power of the Holy Spirit, working through God’s Word, we would all be elevated in our attitudes. The call to higher things comes from Paul’s words in Philippians 2. He directs our thinking in these two ways – first, in our honoring of Christ and second, in imitating the love of Christ.
1. ABOUT HONORING JESUS AS THE EXALTED LORD
The Palm Sunday Crowd Exalted Jesus
God calls us to elevate our attitudes about honoring Jesus by regarding Him as our exalted Lord. The original Palm Sunday people showed great honor to Jesus. Residents of
God The Father Exalted Jesus As Lord
The crowd was not full aware of Jesus’ greatness. Many offered enthusiastic, but rather shallow praise. Many were driven more by emotion, than by conviction. Much of the praise was mindless rather than thoughtful. Jesus really was all that the crowd announced Him to be – and even more. He was the God-chosen Messiah, the mighty Lord, the worthy Savior. Paul says: “God exalted Jesus to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.” No less an authority than God the Father Himself proclaimed Jesus as the exalted Lord. It was the Father who spoke His divine approval of Jesus in the words: “This is My Son, whom I love.” It was the Father who vindicated all Jesus claims to be the Christ and God’s Son be raising Him from the dead. It was the Father who inducted Jesus into His position as the ruling Lord of all at His ascension. On the Last Day, Paul informs us that all will exalt Jesus. “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
Turn From Exalting Yourself
The call to honor Jesus as the exalted Lord is right and proper. And it is in radical opposition to the way everyone’s sinful nature thinks it should be. The sinful nature of people delights, not in exalting God or Christ, but in exalting self. Paul acknowledges that when he writes: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Here we encounter a real inflation problem, the problem of inflating our opinion of ourselves. The sinful self’s boast: “I am the best. I am the one who counts. I am the important one.” Is flawed, foolish and failed thinking. It honors the wrong person and dishonors the truly worthy One, Jesus. Our natural desires to elevate our selves runs counter to God’s opinion. If left unchallenged and unrenounced, it will meet disgrace on the Last Day, when all will and must exalt Jesus Christ.
Honor Jesus As Your Exalted Lord
Palm Sunday gives us a brief glimpse of Jesus’ greatness. We know the more complete picture. From the mountain-top view of God’s Word, we come to understand that Jesus is the one true God, the all-sufficient Savior and the ever-living Lord. As we grasp that truth by faith into our hearts and remember who Jesus really is, our knees willingly bow in adoration and our lips gladly confess Him as the Lord and as our Lord. Our worship ceases to be a familiar chore or a routine habit and it becomes a vital, exciting highlight of our lives. Worship becomes an appointment to meet with God and a personal opportunity to honor the exalted Lord Himself. With an uplifted view of Jesus, we also find ourselves publicly mentioning and confessing our Lord and eagerly recommending Him to others to know and to trust. Many people in the first Palm Sunday crowd knew rather little about Jesus, yet they praised Him eagerly and publicly. We have more knowledge of Him and His saving work and so even greater reasons to praise before others. Why not do so this week as we invite another person to join us for Holy Week and Easter worship? May God elevate our attitudes about our Savior and move us to honor Him more and more as our exalted Lord.
2. ABOUT IMITATING JESUS IN SELF-EMPTYING LOVE
Jesus Showed Self-Emptying Love On Palm Sunday
The second attitude that God calls us to elevate is the attitude of our love. He insists that we imitate Jesus in self-emptying love. Paul tells us: 5) Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7) but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8) And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Jesus expressed a most humble love on Palm Sunday. He rode a lowly, borrowed donkey into
Jesus Showed Selp-Emptying Love Throughout His Life
Jesus not only demonstrated self-emptying love on Palm Sunday. He did it throughout His life. Paul says: “Jesus made Himself nothing.” The Greek word “Kenosis” can literally be translated as “He emptied Himself.” Jesus humbled Himself. It was not that He gave up being God or that He gave up His divine powers. Bur rather, Jesus gave up the rights and privileges He had as God. He purposely set them aside and did not make full use of them during His time of humility from His conception by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary until His death on the cross and burial in Joseph’s tomb. During this time, Jesus obeyed the Law for us and endured our curse as sinners. We marvel at self-emptying love. We admire people who give up much to help and rescue others. We properly honor our people in the military, police officers, and firefighters who risk their lives in defense of ours. Jesus’ love was matchless. He went from enjoying matchless glory to facing ultimate disgrace, from being the Lord who was perfectly obeyed to become the servant who obeyed perfectly; from making full use of His authority to become the One who gave up all His rights. He did all this for us – for you!
Turn From Self-Serving Love
Let us contrast Jesus’ love with the way our love often operates. Paul raises the subject when he says: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” It is so easy for us to slip into a love that does look only to our own interests. We think too easily of what is to our benefit, what’s in it for us and why should I care too much about others. We reach quite naturally for what’s easy or convenient for ourselves and for excuses about why weren’t able to perform a helpful service to others. Like one of Albert Camus self-enthralled characters, we often have to plead: “I have conceived on great love in my life, of which I am always the object.”
Imitate Jesus in Self-Emptying Love
Our God calls us to elevate our attitudes and imitated the love of Jesus. As Jesus willingly yielded His rights and looked out for our interests first, so may we willingly be inconvenienced and see who we can benefit others. Let us look at our family member and friends, not in terms of what they can do for us, but in the spirit of what we can do for them. Let us look at our career not in terms of what prominence we can achieve or how fat a paycheck we can collect, but rather in terms of how we can serve others and benefit God’s purposes. Let us look at our discretionary time not so much in how we will find enjoyment, but in terms of how we can practically help and enrich the lives of others. Let us thing about heaven, not so much in terms of what it will be a great place for us to be, but more in terms of how much God wants the people we know to be there also. God help us is our love.
This Palm Sunday, we are called to move to higher ground. God Himself will take us there. May He elevate our attitudes so that we truly honor Jesus as our exalted Lord and willingly imitate Jesus in self-emptying love. Amen.