April 14, 2019
Get Ready for Easter—
Recognize Your Savior!
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Let me ask you a purely hypothetical question: Have you ever known someone who needed an “attitude adjustment”? Okay! Perhaps that question wasn’t so hypothetical after all! Sometimes when a child becomes defiant or uncooperative or just plain sassy their Mom or Dad might tell them that they need an “attitude adjustment.” The teenager who thinks that they “know better” or “know more” than their parents may need to be reminded that they need an “attitude adjustment.” We may have even known adults who were so arrogant or so self-centered that in the back of our minds we may have thought, “They are definitely in need of an ‘attitude adjustment’!”
As you and I gather together here in the house of God on this Palm Sunday our sermon text gives us an opportunity to look into the mirror and see whether or not we need an “attitude adjustment.” Today then as we wrap up our sermon series entitled Get Ready For Easter the apostle Paul encourages us to check our “attitude.” Once we have the proper attitude then Paul encourages us to: Recognize Your Savior! As you and I recognize our Savior there are two things this will lead us to do. First, recognizing our Savior will lead us to learn from His humility. Second, recognizing our Savior will lead us to rejoice in His exaltation!
Paul opens our text for today by saying to us, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Paul is reminding us here that as the saved and forgiven children of God our “thinking,” our “mindset,” our “attitude” needs to continually be pattered after the “thinking,” the “mindset,” the “attitude” of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why does Paul need to remind us of this? The reason, my friends, is because we all have that old sinful nature lurking inside of us. That old sinful nature is constantly trying to get us to pattern our “thinking” and to focus our “mindset” and to adopt the “attitudes” of this unbelieving world— all of which are the polar opposite of what Jesus wants for us! As you and I get ready for Easter this is a very good opportunity for us to see if we do indeed need an “attitude check.”
With that encouragement from Paul in mind, let’s go on to the next section of our text. Whether we go back to that first Palm Sunday when Jesus of Nazareth rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey or whether it is here in our neck of the woods today there are indeed people who do not recognize who Jesus is! Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul gives us the ability to recognize exactly who our Savior is when he says concerning Jesus in verse six of our text, “…who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Over and over again Scripture clearly proclaims that Jesus is “in very nature God”! In other words, Jesus is the true eternal Son of the one and only living God. In power, in majesty, in glory— in absolutely every single way Jesus is “equal” to both God the Father and to God the Holy Spirit. And yet, even though Jesus is true God Paul reminds us that Jesus “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” Here Paul is emphasizing that Jesus did not look at His “status” as true God as something to be “held on to” at all costs. No, rather, Jesus was willing to “let go” of His “equality with God” and take on the very nature of a “servant.” Very simply, Paul is reminding us of the central truth that we celebrate every Christmas— the eternal Son of God came into this world as our true flesh and blood Brother.
As you and I get ready for the events of Holy Week, as you and I get ready for Easter it is critically important or us to recognize that the One who gathered in the Upper Room and gave to His Church the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the One who allowed Himself to be arrested, mocked, ridiculed and then sentenced to die at the hands of mortal sinful human beings, the One who physically rose from the dead on Easter Sunday just— as He promised He would— is both the true Son of God and the true Son of Man.
Once we recognize this awesome truth then verse eight of our text causes us to gasp. The true eternal Son of the one and only living God loves you so deeply and so completely that “being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Pointing to the cross) Even though you and I did not deserve it, even though you and I have sinned against Him in more ways than we even realize, Jesus loves you so much that He humbled Himself to the point of willingly laying down His life so that the entire debt of your sin could be stamped: “Paid in Full!” Think about that, my friends. The only-begotten Son of the one and only true God loves you so much that He willingly poured out His holy precious blood in order to redeem you, to buy you back from the power of sin, death and the devil so that you could be His very own and live with Him in His heavenly Home!
That’s the kind of humility that you and I need to learn from, my friends. That’s the kind of “attitude” that we need to consciously strive to have— especially in our relationship with our Lord! Instead of thinking, “It’s my life and I’ll live my life however I choose,” we need to learn from Jesus’ humility and strive to humbly live our life in a way that is pleasing to our Savior God. Instead of having the mindset that says, “I want this” or “I deserve that” we need to learn from Jesus’ humility and strive to humbly be content with whatever the good Lord does or does not give to us. (See Hebrews 13:5) Instead of adopting the attitude that leads us to think that we had best squeeze as much enjoyment and as much pleasure out of this life as we can because we never know when we might die, we need to learn from Jesus’ humility and humbly strive to live our life to the glory of God while always staying focused on the fact that we are just sojourners here on this earth and that heaven is our home.
That thought then leads us into the second point that I hope you take home with you today. Recognizing who our Savior is will not only give us the attitude that leads us to learn from Jesus’ humility, but recognizing who our Savior is will also give us the attitude that enables us to rejoice in Jesus’ exaltation! Look at verses 9-11 of our text. Paul writes, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 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.”
Once Jesus’ work of saving us from our sins was finished (See Matthew 1:21 and John 19:30), once the eternal Son of God had obediently humbled Himself to the point of dying on the cross in our place (Pointing to the cross) “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” The exaltation of Jesus began when He descended into hell to proclaim His victory over sin, death and the devil. This exaltation was made public on Easter Sunday when Jesus proved to His disciples that He had indeed fulfilled His promise and physically rose from the dead on the third day. This exaltation continued as Jesus ascended into heaven and victoriously took His place at the Father’s right hand. This exaltation will be made unmistakably clear to all of humanity when the victorious Christ returns to this earth as the Judge of the living and the dead. On that day all people— even those who crucified Him, even those who reject Him and dismiss Him right down to this very day— all people will bow before Him and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of our heavenly Father.
As the forgiven and saved children of God you and I have been given the attitude that enables us to truly rejoice in Jesus’ exaltation. We rejoice in His exaltation because by the grace of God alone we know what Paul means when he says that Jesus has been given “the name that is above every name.” We rejoice in knowing that Jesus is our personal Savior— the only Savior we need! We rejoice in Jesus’ exaltation because by the grace of God alone we willingly bow before Jesus as we worship Him with all of our heart here in His house. We rejoice in Jesus’ exaltation because by the grace of God alone we joyfully and freely confess that Jesus Christ is Lord— He is the Lord of my heart! He is the Lord of my life! We rejoice in Jesus’ exaltation because His exaltation guarantees that someday He will fulfill His promise to us and come back to take us Home so that we can live exalted in the glory and the perfection of His heaven— for all of eternity!
In just five short days you and I will once again gather here in the house of God and we will hear how the Palm Sunday shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” turned into angry hateful cries of “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Just two short days after that we will reassemble here in the house of God to hear the glorious Easter proclamation: “Do not be afraid…He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
My prayer then this morning, my friends, is that you and I will use these next few days to finish getting ready for Easter. Finish getting ready for Easter by looking into a mirror and asking yourself, “Do I need an attitude adjustment?” In light of both Good Friday and Easter Sunday do I need to change my “thinking,” my “mindset,” my “attitude” so that it more closely follows that of my Savior? Take these next few days to get ready for Easter. Take this time to truly recognize who your Savior is! Once you recognize who He (Pointing to the cross) is then by God’s grace and by God’s power you will not only have the attitude that leads you to learn from Jesus’ humility, but you will also have the attitude that enables you to rejoice in Jesus’ exaltation!
To God be the glory!