Sermon for Sunday April 5th, 2020, Palm Sunday
The Lessons: Psalm 31:9-16; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 27:11-54
The Text: Philippians 2:5-11
The Topic: The Humility and Obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ
We need more servants today. But a good servant is hard to find.
In the past decade, the number of American households worth $10 million or more has quadrupled, and the newly rich want help managing their large homes and busy lifestyles. Mary Starkey’s International Institute for Household Management of Denver, Colorado, is trying to meet the need. With household managers earning $60,000 to $120,000 a year, applications are at an all-time high, but servanthood is not easy to learn.
Those enrolled in the rigorous eight-week, $7,200 course devote themselves to mastering the mundane aspects of running a large household: dealing with trades and outside vendors, managing household staff, learning table manners, and taking cooking classes. They learn how to set a formal dinner table and iron table linens so they are crisp and wrinkle-free.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of servanthood, however, is self-denial. A consulting beautician at the school recently told an attractive young female student to trim her long blond hair, lose the showy earrings, and lay off the red lip liner. It seemed her makeup was drawing attention away from her employers to herself.
That violated the primary goal of a servant: to meet the needs of others rather than self.
— Chris Easton, in a sermon “Real Life:
Making It Personal,” Newark Church of the
Nazarene, Newark, Ohio (October 15, 2006)
These are two aspects of humility and servanthood: meeting the needs of others, in the case of a servant, those of one’s employer, and not drawing attention to oneself, but honoring the Lord most of all, as this diary entry of Samuel Brengle makes clear:
On one occasion Samuel Brengle, longtime revered leader of the Salvation Army, was introduced as “the great Dr. Brengle.” In his diary he wrote:
“If I appear great in their eyes, the Lord is most graciously helping me to see how absolutely nothing I am without Him, and helping me to keep little in my own eyes. He does use me. But I am so concerned that He uses me and that it is not of me the work is done. The axe cannot boast of the trees it has cut down. It could do nothing but for the woodsman. He made it, he sharpened it, and he used it. The moment he throws it aside, it becomes only old iron. O that I may never lose sight of this.”
– p.58, Oswald Sanders: Spiritual Leadership. Chicago: Moody Press, 1967.
A LESSON IN HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE: PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11
On this Palm Sunday, we consider the Epistle Lesson, Philippians 2:5-11, in terms of the great example of humility and obedience which the Lord Jesus Christ set for us. St. Paul tells us to have in us the same mindset or attitude that Christ had (Phil. 2:5a). What, then, was the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ which we must reflect in our lives? The following verses explain that, though Christ participates in the nature and being of God, he did not consider equality with God something to be treasured and kept at all costs, but emptied himself, took the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of men, humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8). Divine exaltation was the result of Christ’s obedience:
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11, KJV)
The result of such obedience God honored by raising the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and causing him to ascend to his right hand in glory and by commanding all creatures in the universe to worship him and confess him as Lord to the glory of God the Father.
How are we to follow the example of the Lord’s great humility and obedience? Since the Lord was able to leave the glory he had always had eternally as the Only-begotten Son of God the Father, and become man, there is nothing at all comparable in our lives that we should not be willing to renounce and give up for the Lord’s sake and for the Gospel. No matter our status, our achievements, our intellect, our social, academic, or economic standing, our gifts and abilities, we must all be ready as Christ’s disciples to humble ourselves to serve in whatever capacity our Lord calls us, to the praise of God’s glory, even if it leads us to places we would not like to go, or to a life we would not like to lead.
Will you count the cost of serving and following Christ, obeying Him in all things?