This sermon is half the normal length due to the fact that in the Episcopal Church the Passion is read in full on Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday: Phil 2:5-11
On what basis should we honor people. People are honored for their bravery; for their achievements; for their generosity; for their great acts.
Yet for Jesus, our passage from Philippians clearly says that God honored and exalted Jesus BECAUSE, he humbly and obediently submitted to death.
Let us pause for a moment to consider the type of death Jesus dies. Jesus does not go down fighting – he does not make a last stand – a glorious battle in which Jesus is killed for his beliefs. That is not what happened. In fact it was almost embarrassingly easy for the guards to come and arrest Jesus. We are told that they came prepared for a tough fight with clubs and swords. This was probably a group of guards thinking they were only minutes from a violent encounter – their adrenaline was pumping. They were probably volatile and ready to pounce.
Yet Jesus does NOTHING and allows himself to be arrested.
To the world he had quite simply lost. Another religious fanatic destroyed.
And the delusion held by the Pharisees and the Romans was that Jesus had been killed at their hands – at their instigation. Yet Jesus himself tells us in John 10 – I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.
In another Gospel, we are told that Jesus says he would call down 12 legions of Angels to rescue him if he wanted.
Is this not incredible.
One who was so utterly more powerful, who had at the simple command of his word the angelic army of the living God at his disposal and command who could come and instantly destroy all in that Garden – this one submits to them and does nothing.
This is what Paul says our own attitude should be like – that of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the Bible we are given the commands and exhortation to lay down our lives for God – to give up everything for him – to take up our cross and follow – not to resist an evil man – if struck on one check, then turn to him the other.
This does not just apply to us when we are weak or oppressed; when we cannot fight back; when we have nothing to fight back with. This applies to us even when we are strong and powerful – successful and impressive – when we COULD fight back.
We are to submit in our lives, in our relationships and even to our enemies in the same way Jesus does in our passion.
There were no limits to the way in which Jesus gave himself for others. There was no line drawn in the sand. He did not say “I will give up my privileges but I will not give up my life.” He did not say “ I will leave behind the glories of heaven but I will not be rejected by my Father”
To be sure there is an area in which Christ cannot be our example – we cannot copy his redemptive acts – we cannot suffer and die for the sins of the world. But with the help of God who dwells in us we can and should copy the Spirit that was basic to these acts.
But what about justice you might say.
I struggle with this as much as anyone does.
But my question today on this Palm Sunday, having read the Passion is “Was Jesus treated with Justice?”
And the answer is no. Not only that, but Jesus willingly, unflinchingly and silently allowed injustice to be heaped upon him. And not just that – but we are told that if the Master is treated like this then his servant should expect to be treated the same – a servant is not greater than his master.
The example of how we deal with injustice in the world is modeled for us in Christ.
But notice, He does not submit to injustice. He submits to God’s will – and that is a huge difference. Often people say “So Christian’s are to be doormats – they just submit to people who are mean to them or want to harm them”.
No. We are called to submit to Christ – to God the Father – to the direction of the Spirit – we submit to HIS commands and his teaching and if that results in us, or our family dying – being killed by an enemy, so be it. But we did not submit to our enemy – we submitted to Christ.
We must begin to change our whole way of thinking on justice as Christians. We need to switch from thinking how we can obtain justice – to trusting that our God will administer Justice.
Shouldn’t Jesus obtain his justice – should the blasphemy of the world ignoring the Savior be dealt with? We learnt a few weeks ago that God is patient in his mercy. But there will be a day when God DOES demand the accounting of all people – there will be a judgment day.
And not one word, not one person, not one action will be left out at the day of judgment. Jesus will demand an accounting for every careless word and action which has not been confessed and placed under the blood of Christ
As Paul says in our Epistle reading and Isaiah in our OT reading, the day WILL come – it will come when “every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD.”
That is our hope. That is our consolation. That is our justice. That is how as Spirit filled believers we CAN forgive, how we can humble ourselves; how we can be obedient to God’s word. We submit to HIM only, knowing that without exception, true justice will be perfectly administered by the living God at the day of judgment.
Do we trust the Father explicitly with ALL injustice that has happened against us? Do we submit to Him, as Christ submitted to the Father, knowing that vindication comes with the judgment of God, not of man. If we here today are followers of Jesus, forgiven by the blood of the lamb, and are bitter, or angry, or frustrated because we have had injustice against us, because we have been wronged, because we have been abused, because we have been attacked, because we have been taken advantage of, stop striving for earthly justice. Be set free today and pray that God would take your anger, bitterness, frustration, pain and hurt and give you peace knowing that true and perfect justice will be found in God.