BCP Palm Sunday/Sunday Next Before Easter 13/4/03 Philippians 2:5-11
We live in a world where small things can have a very large impact. A pimple may be small but it can be unbearably comfortable. A silicon chip can hold more information than an encyclopedia. A C.D. Rom contain more photos than a pile of photograph albums.
The wonder of our modern age is that something extremely small becomes so very powerful.
But there is a wonder of an ancient age. Two thousand years ago. When someone very, very powerful made himself extremely small. God came to earth.
1) Exchange and example.
Many people take back to shops purchases that are unwanted or the wrong size. They will be exchanged for other items of a similar type or value, or for cash.
If I was to take back a shirt to Marks and Spencer that cost £25 and they offered me £5 in exchange I would refuse and say that this was unfair. I would be mad, rich, or careless to accept such an exchange.
Jesus exchanged all the glory of being God in order to come to earth. As a poor helpless baby. Born in an unhygienic stable to an unmarried mother. Put in a feeding trough because there was no cot for him. Miles away from his parents home of Nazareth. First visited by shepherds who were religious and social outcasts. Soon to be a refugee in Egypt.
Jesus was not mad, rich, or careless. But loving and humble. Putting other people before himself. Putting you and me before himself. God wanted to reveal himself to people, and to reconcile people to himself. So he sent Jesus. Man and God. A perfect example of what you and I should be. Putting other people's interests before our own. Read verses 6f. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
John Major and Margaret Thatcher are ex-Prime Ministers. They no longer has the fame, standing in society, power, supporters and influence he once had. It must have been very difficult when he had to give this up.
Jesus has exchanged the glory of heaven for life on earth. He sets us an example of humility in doing this. However, this involved a lot more...
2) Exclusion and execution.
Jesus knows what it means to be human. Tiredness, hunger, sadness, joy, disappointment, frustration, rejection, pain, suffering and death. Because he is God, and did what was right there was opposition to Jesus. The religious leaders could not cope with his popularity, and they could not cope with his radical understanding of the Law. Their Bible. So they executed him on a cross.
Read verse 8. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
This was not an accident of history , it was planned by God outside time. Jesus came to earth to die. This service focuses on the cross. A place of execution, where the perfect man was cruelly killed for a crime he did not commit.
A place of exclusion, where Jesus was separated from God. For on the cross he who never sinned took upon himself the punishment for the sin of the world. The Bible says that we sin when we fail to put God and other people before ourselves. This separates us from God. But Jesus took the punishment for us so that we can be free. Free to know God without the barrier of sin. Free to live for God. Forgiven for everything that we have ever done wrong.
As we receive the bread and the wine in this service it is a symbol of our acceptance of what Jesus has done for us. That we have accepted his gift of eternal life for us, purchased by his death on the cross. That we are living lives with him as number one in all we do and say.
After Jesus exclusion and execution he was
3) Exalted and extolled.
Read verse 9. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.
Death could not hold Jesus. He did not escape it but went through it. Emerging alive and victorious on the third day.
His resurrection shows that God accepted Jesus self-sacrifice on the cross. That Jesus can give the gift of life to those who follow him. A life lived in perfect fellowship with God the Father. A life that will be uninterrupted by physical death.
Read 10: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11: And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In the Bible someone's name is often associated with what they do. Jesus means 'God saves'. This exaltation or raising up of Jesus by God should lead to us extolling or praising his name. For who he is, and what he has done. Not only that we should bow to him, or worship him. And we should confess that he is Lord. Not just with our lips but with our lives.