Let us pray: Dear Savior, You tell us that Your Holy Father: “Humbles the proud and exalts the humble.” We certainly see that in Your life as You humbly followed that pathway to the cross and then were exalted, resurrected, and given the lordship of heaven. Today teach us that although the pathway of humility may be mocked by the world, it is the only way toward real honor and eternal glory. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF GLORY!
Text: Philippians 2: 5-11
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
“This makes no sense!” That’s what the unchurched person exclaims as they read the Passion story beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with the cross. Even the nonchristian can relate to Palm Sunday with its pomp and circumstance, after all, is seems God-like, doesn’t it? But to see such glory turn to the shame of the cross, well, that’s more than the unbeliever can comprehend. And perhaps even harder to swallow is when some preacher, like me, tells Joe Unchurched that real glory and real majesty is revealed—not in the applause of the crowd, but in the humility of the cross. You see, to the average sinner humbleness is like “blood in the water” to a shark. You meet someone who’s truly humble and immediately you try to take advantage of them. Whereas, prideful people who are basking in the spotlight of human honor, well those are the modern heroes! Those are the ones you look up to and try to emulate.
Christianity is a paradox. It turns a sinner’s view of the world upside down. For the Christian “strength is made perfect in weakness” and “you save your life by losing it” and now to bring us to the point of our text: THERE IS GLORY IN HUMILITY!…..
Usually on Palm Sunday I talk all about the honor and glory that surrounded Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. We see His Lordship over all creation in the Palm Sunday gospel lessons. First, He proves His all-knowingness in directing the disciples to that colt upon which He rode into the city. His divinity is seen in that He knows in advance what the owner will say as the disciples untie it and what to say in response so that he’ll let them bring that colt to Christ. Second, as Christ enters the city early that Sunday morning the people got up and out in time to have a seemingly spontaneous celebration. They even climbed palm trees and cut down branches to wave. Surely this was not a common occurrence! Third, when the carping Pharisees gripe about the noise Christ reminds them that if the crowds kept quiet, He’d make sure the stones would cry out to honor and glorify God’s Son. People like this story because it pumps us up. I suppose we all hope a little of this glory will rub off on us and into our lives, as well.
On the surface there doesn’t seem to be much talk of humbleness on Palm Sunday. But, if you dig a little deeper you’ll clearly see it. One, Christ rode into town on a little donkey colt and not a stallion. Two, He wasn’t coming to rule in earthly glory, no He was coming to die on a cross. And three, although the crowds sang His praises then, by Friday they would ignore Him or be shouting: “Crucify, Crucify!” So, you might ask: “Where’s the glory in all this humility?” It’s contained in one little word: love. Love prompted Him to begin His journey to the cross on that first Palm Sunday. Love moved Him to die for sinners in disgrace and shame. Love moved Him to win forgiveness before God via His blood. And by never ceasing to love us, even while universally mocked on the cross, well that’s Divine greatness as its zenith, isn’t it?
The fact that there is glory in such humility is outlined by St. Paul in our lesson: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should 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.”
Christ’s glory didn’t come so much from the Palm Sunday crowds as it came from the cross. His glory resulted from true humility–the humility born of unconditional love—even for those who murdered Him. For remember, while on the cross Christ said: “Father, forgive them!” And since this practice of love leading to glory was true for Christ, it is true for us who wish to bear His name!
Glory in humility.—Your pride doesn’t’ like that idea, does it? It seems to go against everything you’ve been taught in the school of hard knocks. Humble folks never make the headlines. People that love their families and provide for them day after day through long hours of hard work, they’re overlooked and forgotten when we think of glory. We’re told: “If you’re humble at work, you’ll never get ahead. You have to market yourself!” More often than not, humble people get taken advantage of, too. They often end up doing the hard work while someone else gets the accolades. I’ll bet all of you know such a person at work that you can pawn projects off on, and they’ll let you do it to them! Remember the motto: “Only the strong survive”? How about that modern American religious mantra: “God helps those that help themselves!”?
And yet, There Is Glory in Humility because true humility is spawned by love. And love truly does conquer all! It conquered sin and death and hell on the cross. It changed sinners into saints via forgiveness through Christ’s blood. And it gives humbled sinners the certain future of a heavenly home through faith in Jesus Christ.
Let’s face it, everyone wants a bit of glory. We all enjoy our day in the spotlight. But the only way to get into God’s spotlight is by having the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus. It is by taking up your cross of humility and following Him. It is by practicing love even toward your enemies. It is by forgiving and forgetting sins against you. It is by clinging to Him in humble faith and begging His forgiveness for all those times you’ve failed to be humble of heart. It is by not being spiteful toward those who take advantage of you, just as Christ is not spiteful with you!
If those truths make sense to you, than you’ll be exalted someday with your Lord. But, if they don’t make any sense to you, then it’s time to get down on your knees and repent while you still have time. Amen