March 29, 2015 – Palm Sunday
Text: Philippians 2:5-11
Dear Friends in Christ,
A first grade teacher was explaining to her class what Holy Week was and why we call it holy. She explained Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and finally Easter. When she thought she had made her point, she asked the students if they had any questions. One curious little boy raised his hand and asked, “What happens if you don’t want to be holy all week?”
Insightful. Who does want to be holy all week? Who wants to be holy on this Palm Sunday? This side of heaven most of us are aware that being holy at all is an impossibility. The only way to get there is through what Jesus is going to do for us this week. He is going to lower himself so that we might be saved. The Sunday of the Passion is upon us as we ask . . .
“HOW COULD YOU STOOP SO LOW?”
What an excellent question for us to contemplate during this last week of Lent. How could you stoop so low? How could you, disciples of Jesus and the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, stoop so low to climax Jesus’s humiliation?
The betrayal of Judas helped carry out the humiliation of Jesus. He feigned concern for the poor while being a thief. He facilitated it all because of his lust for money and perhaps as a way to remove the last voice of truth and conscience in his life. Jesus would stoop so low.
The contention and denial of Peter added to Jesus’ humiliation. He was so proud that he would stand when others were falling. Instead of a rock, he became a pile of sand by denying Jesus three times. Jesus would stoop so low.
The religious leaders would find false witnesses; condemn Jesus as a liar and blasphemer all because Jesus spoke the truth as the Son of God. This added to his humiliation. Jesus would stoop so low.
How low do we go to cause Jesus’ humiliation? We can see what is no good in others. We just did it with Judas, Peter, and Caiaphas. Didn’t that make you feel good – at least a little? But Lent – especially this day in Lent – is devoted to looking at ourselves. Our self-exaltation required His humiliation. When we create conflict in our relationships because of pride, don’t we humiliate Jesus by ignoring His words, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Mt. 7:3) Jesus would stoop so low.
Our selfishness required his death. How many families are broken because one or many family members take care and affection while giving nothing back – and feel justified in doing so? We contend that we deserve the good things for which Jesus suffered. Jesus would stoop so low.
Our materialism required his death as one accursed. When we trade God as Creator for the firstfruits of His creation we lower God to the place of a servant who is rudely expected to provide constantly for our every comfort. Jesus would stoop so low.
How could you, Jesus stoop so low to allow your humiliation? His nature made such a response to our condition inescapable. He is the Lamb of God slain for the whole world. He not only created all things, but He sustains them by His power. He would stoop so low so that He could raise us up. His love knows no limits. He would go lower and lower and lower because of His love for us. That love sets us free from concern for ourselves.
Instead of exalting this Lord Jesus, we have many proponents of other world religions lowering the Christ by saying they are all the same.
The late Dr. Malcolm Muggeridge, curmudgeon of the British journalistic establishment, once gave a speech in Washington D.C., in which he made a number of comments about the current state of the world’s affairs – all of them negative. Afterward, one person asked him if he had any reason for optimism. Muggeridge responded, “My friend, I could not be more optimistic than I am, because my hope is in Jesus Christ alone.” He paused for a moment to let that sink in, then finished: “Just think if the apostolic church had pinned its hopes on the Roman Empire!” The kingdom of Jesus, a liar and fool to those who deny or lower Him, is the eternal kingdom of God whose truth we must live out in our lives.
Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord. It is good to be reminded of that. Jesus stooped so low as he rode the colt into Jerusalem. He used humble means so that His redemption is accessible to us. Word and Sacrament. Bibles, water, bread and wine. In these instances are head is usually lowered. While reading, when we were baptized, and at the communion rail. We can do that because He stooped so low for us. As the head arises, we look heavenward to the glory that awaits. Stand up straight; your Savior and your redemption are on the way.