Waynedale United Methodist Church
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

March 29, 2015 Sermon

“The Final Week”

Mark 11:1-11; Philippians 2:5-11

Ted Jansen  March 29, 2015  Waynedale UMC

(Adapted from a sermon by Rev. Allison Yankey in 2014)

 

1.)        Children imitate what they see, don’t they?   As children, we learn so many aspects of life through imitation – how to eat, how to walk, how to behave in public.  And as parents this can be one of the challenging parts in navigating through early childhood; when your children become the biggest mirror to your actions and your personality.  You know those moments, when you turn to your spouse and ask, “Do I really do that, too?”  “Did she get that from me?” 

 

2.)        We have been walking in the footsteps of Jesus.  We come to the last week, the final week and it begins with the Palm Parade in Jerusalem.  It will continue all week as we see Jesus literally descend from the Mount of Olives to the tomb in the garden. 

            As we have been walking in the footsteps of Jesus we know that to be a disciple or “follow” Jesus we must go with Him all the way.  We must imitate him. 

            On this Palm Sunday, as we have seen Jesus walking the path of humility we need to have an attitude like that.  In this final week that we call, “Holy Week,” we must walk with Him.    

 

3.)        Jesus, literally was up on the Mt of Olives and came down so that he could enter Jerusalem and the temple.  This journey was a physical one but was also spiritual journey that He was on for years, in fact His entire life.  This last week of Jesus on earth began from a high point on the Mt Olives to the low point of tomb.   

            Paul described the journey of Christ in such a way that he called Christians to take the walk of Jesus and to have the same attitude that Jesus had.   We discover these words that Paul wrote. 

 

4.)        Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  Now, when Paul wrote this epistle, he had a particular purpose in mind: to move the church of Philippi to appreciate and imitate Jesus’ actions.  He wanted to express to the people the importance of being unified, humble, and unselfish.  He wanted to focus on not just the inner attitudes of individual believers, but on the concrete expressions of their attitudes, or their actions, in their day to day encounters with each other.  Paul didn’t want the Philippians to simply think like Jesus, to have a Jesus attitude, but to act on that attitude, something to impact the world on a social level. 

 

5.)        Paul knew that if he dealt with the attitudes of the people that their actions would then follow.  So he presents before them what is known as the Christological hymn.  Verses 6-11 are presented in a poetic form.  It has become a sort of summation of the life of Christ, a teaching on what He was about.  It tells us of His preexistence, His equality with God, His identity with humanity, the costly nature of that identity, and His exaltation by the Father.  Within this narrative is a beautiful picture of the love God has for us.  Let us look at these verses. 

 

6.)        In verse 6 we affirm that Jesus was in the form of God.  Being God is a part of His essential and unchangeable nature, meaning Christ never ceases to be God, it is a part of His underlying reality.  So being in the form of God, we learn that He is also equal with God.  He had every opportunity to use it to His advantage.

            In verse 7 we see that Jesus emptied Himself.  We see the shift from the attitude, the mental process, of Christ to the actions, to the concrete expression of Christ’s attitude.  He didn’t see equality with God as something He needed to use to His advantage, so He chose to empty Himself on our behalf.  The Father gave to us the Son, for our benefit, but the Son chose to be given.  He was a willing sacrifice.  The Lord became the servant. 

It is important to note that Christ did not strip Himself of His divine attributes.  He did not cease to be God.  He didn’t suddenly become “not God.”  He laid aside His divine rank.  He made it not important that He was equal with God.  He took away His advantages so that He could identify with us as humans.

 

7.)        As He emptied Himself, He took the form of a servant.  This comes as a contrast to Jesus being in the form of God.  Christ did not disguise Himself as a servant, He became a servant.  He wasn’t pretending to be something He wasn’t.  He didn’t just exist in a servant’s condition; he lived in humble service.  His attitude matched His actions.  He embodied the form of being a servant therefore giving up the highest possible status to take on the lowest possible role.  And all of this was His choice.  And He was born in human likeness.  People saw Jesus just like a man. 

This teaching describes for us that Jesus became human so that He might fully identify with us.  Christ became like us, so that we have the opportunity to become like Him.  But we have to understand and accept that Christ truly became like us.

 

8.)        We see in verse 8 that Christ came and He humbled Himself.  Jesus chose humility.  He chose to come.  He chose to empty Himself.  He chose humility and obedience to God.  Although the text here doesn’t mention all of the things Jesus did while here on earth, we have four gospels filled with stories of the life of Christ.  We see evidenced here the type of life that Christ lived; one of obedience and service.  Yet, His life could not show the full extent of His humility. 

The text says He was, “obedient to death,” meaning Christ showed the extent, or the full measure of His willingness to humble Himself through His death.  And this isn’t that Christ was willing to die a natural death or wait for the life to run its course.  Instead, Christ was willing to die a torturous, shameful death, one fitting for a common criminal at best.  His identity with humanity had a high cost.  He paid a high price for His willingness to humble Himself.

 

9.)        We reflect the words in verse 9 that says, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.”   Because of Christ’s willingness, God chose to highly exalt Him.  The wording actually means, “God hyper exalted him,” meaning God took Him from the lowest point in His earthly role and moved Him to the highest heavenly honor.  The Father restored the Son to His previous status of glory at which point He became the object of adoration in the Godhead and the administrator of God’s affairs. 

Ephesians 1:20-23 tells us this.  “God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

 

10.)      The Father also gave the Son the name that is above all other names, the title of Lord. 

And so we hear in verses 10-11 the proclamation of the unique greatness of the God of Israel and of the universal worship that will be paid to Him.    

            “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  The emphasis here is on “Lord.”  “When Jesus Christ is acclaimed as Lord, He is installed in the place which properly belongs to God alone.  Therefore, Jesus Christ has sovereignty over the entire universe.” And all of this is so that God will get the glory.  

 

11.)      As we have walked in the footsteps of Jesus, we begin to understand that we are not called to be casual observers but active participants.  We can’t just watch the events of holy week as they pass us by.  We have to participate.  What is it that we can learn about God, about ourselves? 

            Because of Christ’s condescension, we look at Palm Sunday through a different lens. The world expected Him to come as a king who would rule the world, so they shouted their hosannas, threw their cloaks on the ground, and worshipped Him.  And rightly so.  He was worth all of their praise and adoration.  Where they missed the mark was where they placed their expectations.  Jesus came as a king who would serve the world, so He rode into own on a humble donkey.  He entered into Holy Week knowing what lay ahead.  In the midst of the shouts of hosanna and the furious wave of the palm branches, Jesus knew what was to come. 

His humble entry to Jerusalem served as foreshadowing for the week to follow.  Although He deserved every praise, it wasn’t time for praise.  It was time to focus in on the task of completing His mission of humility and obedience.   

 

12.)      Mark was an 11 year old orphan who lived with his aunt, a bitter middle aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her dead sister’s son. She never failed to remind young Mark, if it hadn’t been for her generosity, he would be homeless. Still, with all the scolding he was a sweet and gentle child.

Mark’s schoolteacher had not noticed him particularly until he began staying after class each day (at the risk of arousing his aunt’s anger, she later found) to help her straighten up the room. They did this quietly and comfortably, not speaking much, but enjoying the solitude of that hour of the day. When they did talk, Mark spoke mostly of his mother. Though he was quite small when she died, he remembered a kind, gentle, loving woman, who always spent time with him.

As Christmas drew near however, Mark failed to stay after school each day. His teacher looked forward to his coming, but when the days passed and he continued to leave the room after class, she stopped him one afternoon and asked why he no longer helped her. She told him how she had missed him, and his large gray eyes lit up eagerly, “Did you really miss me?”

Mark’s teacher explained how he had been her best helper. “I was making you a surprise,” he whispered confidentially. “It’s for Christmas.” He became embarrassed and left the room.

Finally came the last school day before Christmas. Mark crept slowly into the room late that afternoon with his hands concealing something behind his back. “I have your present,” he said timidly when his teacher looked up. “I hope you like it.” He held out his hands, and there lying in his small palms was a tiny wooden box.

“Its beautiful, Mark. Is there something in it?” She asked opening the top to look inside.

“Oh you can’t see what’s in it,” he replied, “and you can’t touch it, or taste it or feel it, but mother said it makes you feel good all the time, warm on cold nights, and safe when you’re alone.”

She gazed into the empty box. “What is it Mark, that will make me feel so good?”

“It’s love,” he whispered softly, “and mother always said it’s best when you give it away.” And he turned and quietly left the room.  (Stories for preaching.com website)

 

13.)      As we celebrate and remember Palm Sunday let us consider all that happened this final week of Jesus’ life.  Enter into Christ’s story, to learn to imitate Christ’s humility and obedience.

            Jesus Christ sought to serve and to be humble in all His actions.  His attitude, and therefore His actions along His earthly journey is that which we should seek to imitate.  To not think highly of ourselves.  To put others’ interests before our own.  To not seek gain for ourselves.  To desire for others to be successful.

            We aren’t called to ride into town on a mighty war horse groomed and decorated with splendor.  We are called to choose the humble path, the one that doesn’t draw attention to ourselves.  We are to look for ways to serve and give our lives away.  

            We are called to give love away as Jesus did for the sake of others.