Year C – Palm Sunday – Philippians 2:5-11

Text–Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so 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.  (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)

Summary–We now come to one of the most glorious texts of the entire Bible.  What other religious writings describe the God of the universe emptying Himself of all majesty and taking the form of a servant, born in our likeness, but without sin?  The truth of this text is so hard to grasp that enumerable false teachers attempted to explain away what God did and replace it with an idol shaped in a package, easier for our sinful hearts to understand.  From the time of your grandfather’s grandfather, men have used this text to tell the lie that Jesus emptied himself of his “Godness” and took the form of a weak human being.  This, so called “Kenotic Theory” led many to understand this text to say that Jesus left most of his Godly attributes at home in heaven, thus losing his divine nature.  Our text says no such thing.  In the context of a Philippian church filled with vainglorious members each insisting on their own rights based on their perceived importance, Paul uses Christ’s example to explain why the Philippians needed to humble themselves.  Paul points us to the God-Man who shows us what it is to be humble, and how it is to be glorified.

Insight–Are you ever embarrassed to let people know that you follow Christ?  Is it hard to share your faith with your classmates or coworkers because you may be labelled one of those Christians and lose your “cool” status?  Those who were causing trouble in the Philippian Church were concerned about how their friends and neighbors looked at them.  They were concerned about their image, anxious to make a good impression and desirous to be recognized as people of consequence.  By contrast, the one who really was important put himself in a position where people mistreated him and saw him with no regard.  There was nothing in his appearance to distinguish him from anyone else.  There was no halo, no glow about him to make him stand out in a crowd.  He looked utterly ordinary.  This Jesus of Nazareth, who could control the weather and raise the dead, did not use his divine power to his own advantage but allowed himself to be arrested, tried, whipped, mocked, and even crucified as a common criminal on a Roman cross.  We hide this Jesus from our friends because we see him as a weakling who was humiliated and continues to be so in the eyes of the world.  This fool took on your foolishness and chose the path of humiliation for your sakes.  He was thirsty, but took no drink.  He was assaulted by the powers of hell, but did not call on the army of angels.  Even when he saw the full cost of this emptying as he looked at the cup that would lead to the cross, he didn’t faulter.  Why did he do this?  Why did he take on your humiliation?  It was all for you.  God the Father now bestows all glory and majesty onto his son that we may confess him as our Lord and savior.  There is no need to hide this majesty from others.  In this season of Easter, rejoice for what the Lord accomplished on the cross.  Rejoice in gladness!  He did it for you.  Confess this before God and your neighbor, Jesus is LORD!

Catechism: (Q) Did Jesus lose any of his divine nature when he emptied himself? (A) No, Jesus is fully God and fully Man.

Discussion: What ways did Christ humiliate himself for us?  How should we react to this?

Prayer: Lord God almighty, we praise you for sending your son from the glory of heaven to dwell with us for a time.  At the cross, our Lord Jesus took on our humiliation for us.  There is no amount of work that can ever pay back this gracious act of love.  And you don’t ask us to work it off.  You don’t ask us to pay it back.  You ask us to trust and love your son for what he did for each of us.  Lord we confess with our mouths that Jesus died for us, that you raised him from the dead and that he now sits at your right hand.  We wait for his return in the majesty and glory due to him.  We praise you now, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Contributed by Michael Fenimore

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