April 8, 2017
Verse: Philippians 2:8
Christ Lutheran Church
April 9, 2017
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8
On Palm Sunday the church celebrates the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy that, “the Lord will suddenly come to his holy temple.” Only not to the one on Mt. Zion as every pious Jew expected, but to the new temple on Mt. Calvary instead. There our humble and obedient Lord poured out the blood of the covenant (Zechariah 9:11) to bring our warfare with God to a halt, and to bless us with heavenly peace. His patient suffering means our life! His humility means our exaltation.
If our children treated us as God’s children treat him we would write them off, and move on. They would be dead to us! But to God who is love this is intolerable! He cannot and will not act outside of his nature, on that you can rely! If we are faithless, he still remains faithful! Still showers us with mercy each day until at length “our cold and selfish natures” (TLH #442) are warmed, and we love him as we ought. Then there will be justice. Then there will be righteousness. Then there will be peace. Then all will be right with the world. But not before.
In today’s Collect the church prays that God would grant her the patience and humility of Jesus, and that we might become partakers of his resurrection. May God answer that prayer today! But if we hope to gain such lofty benefits we must understand that the Great Humility and Great Patience we pray for here are not simply “virtues.”
Virtue is important. It yields many benefits. Thinking people go out of their way to be virtuous because it makes sense. It pays. It works. It gets you the things you want. And that isn’t bad if your goal is a godly one. But people can exercise patience to achieve an evil end as well.
Yes, virtue pays and the benefits of Patience are easy to understand, but Humility … now that is a horse of a different color. It is the last thing that proud and prickly people want to cultivate! A person might feign humility in order to pull something off. Every suspect in the back seat of a police car is humble. But the kind of humility and patience that Jesus possessed were of an entirely different order, because he did not exercise them for his own gain, but for yours!
To be impatient is a sin against the First Commandment. It means that a person doesn’t fear, love and trust in God above all things like Jesus did. It means that we don’t believe that God is our Gracious Father; the Source and Provider of every good thing we need for body and soul, for time and eternity. Or that he will give us what we need at the right time, and sustain us by his Holy Spirit until he does. Remember that last point well Dear Christians: that God will sustain you by the comfort of his Holy Spirit until he completes the good work he began in you at your baptism.
To be proud is also a sin against the first and greatest commandment to: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. To be proud means that you worship yourself, and that you wish the whole world to join in on the affair, then all will be well. That is what we think. And it is fatal!
Now enter Jesus! Who emptied himself and took on human flesh. Who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, so that we by his poverty might be made rich! (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Now enter Jesus into death, even the death of the cross. A true and redemptive death that atones for our pride, impatience, idolatry and disobedience, and makes us New Creations in Christ, for as St. Paul says in Romans 8:30 “those whom he justified, he also glorified.” We are those people.
Now enter Jesus into the tomb to fulfill the Sabbath rest for us, and to become the first-fruits of a New Creation by his glorious resurrection. For whereas as in Adam we all die, in Christ, that is by baptism, we shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
Now enter the Son of Man into the presence of the Ancient of Days. (Daniel 7:14) Who by his humility, and his patient obedience destroyed the Beast, ascended into heaven, obtained the name that is above all names, and who holds all authority in heaven, all authority on earth. Authority that he exercises for our good, our benefit, our blessing! And it is an eternal reign that will never cease, never weaken, never dim, never change! O come let us adore him!
Now enter Jesus into his church which is become his Body. Into the baptismal water which now save us. (1 Peter 3:21). Into the bread and cup which is the blood of the Covenant (Zechariah 9:11) that liberates the prisoners of hope from the waterless pit of their sins. That restores them to their Stronghold, and reimburses them double for all they ever lost to sin, and death. You are those people!
Now enter the New Man we become in Christ. Enter his courts with Thanksgiving (Eucharistia), his gates with praise, and sing Hosanna to the Son of David, who comes to you in the name of the Lord, and who, at this altar, makes you partakers of his resurrection to exalt you now and always.
Now enter the humility and patience of Jesus into your life to give you peace. To make you calm. To give you rest. To stop the madness. To restore self-control. To grant you serenity. To make all things new! O give thanks unto the LORD for he is good, and his mercy endures forever! Amen.