Scripture
Philippians 2:5-11
Date
March 25, 2018
Speaker
Pastor Witt

 

 

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 Appalachians, the Catskills, the Rockies or the Cascades.  The view from on top of a mountain is broad, beautiful and breath-taking.  Moving to a higher elevation requires some effort.   However, it has its rewards as provides a new perspective on things.  

 

On the first Palm Sunday, the crowd of people heading toward Jerusalem was moving up quite literally to a higher elevation.   Mount Zion was the highest point in the surrounding area.   This Palm Sunday, God calls us through His Word to move up higher in our thinking and beliefs as He calls us to elevate our attitudes.  We often talk about adjusting our attitudes.  That can refer to a minor or major change.   God’s call envisions a major change in thinking for us toward our regard for and allegiance to Jesus Christ.

 

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 Jerusalem, Jews from other parts of Israel and Jews from other parts of the world all converged on the city for Passover.   Many of them were caught up in praise for Christ.   They praised Jesus in words:  “Hail, Son of David”  - “Hosanna in the highest”   The people praised Him in deeds: spreading palm branches and coats in the path He traveled.  Children and adults, women and men,  Galileans and Judeans and ex-patriots expressed their hopes and joy and welcomed Him as the Messiah – King.

 

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 Jerusalem.  And in this way, He entered the capital city as the humble, peace-bringing King that the prophet Zechariah had predicted centuries before.   He manner of entry sent a clear signal that He was the willing, self-giving Savior who had come to complete the task of freeing sinners from their doom by taking on their punishment.

 

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.