Palm Sunday

March 28, 2021

Philippians 2:5-11

Strive to Have a Palm Sunday Attitude!

 

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 every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (NIV1984)

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

Today as we gather together in God’s Name, we automatically have a very good idea concerning the central focus of our worship service.  Today we celebrate Palm Sunday.  Today we remember and rejoice as Jesus triumphantly enters into the City of Jerusalem amidst shouts of, “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  Today we gladly follow the prophet Zechariah’s encouragement to “Rejoice greatly”  because with the eyes of faith we can see the fulfillment of Zechariah’s words, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).  Today we wish that we could have been among the crowds of people cutting down palm branches, singing songs of praise and placing our cloaks along the road Jesus was riding on.  Today our souls are filled with joy and excitement— in preparation for what we will see and hear during the rest of Holy Week.

 

With the joy and the excitement of Palm Sunday so clearly portrayed in both our Old Testament Lesson for today (Zechariah 9:9, 10) as well as in our Gospel Lesson for this morning (Mark 11:1-10) were you a little bit surprised that I chose our Epistle Lesson as our sermon text for Palm Sunday?  If so, let me help you see why I did this.  As I was preparing for today, my goal was to take the joy of our Old Testament Lesson plus the excitement of our Gospel Lesson and dovetail them with the encouragement that Paul proclaims to us in this portion of his letter to the Philippian Christians, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  With that goal in mind, let’s study this text under the theme:  Strive to Have a Palm Sunday Attitude!  Striving to have a Palm Sunday attitude will lead us to three things.  First, it will lead us to have a heart that is filled with humility.  Then, it will lead us to live a life that is motivated by loyalty.  Finally, it will lead us to keep our eyes focused on victory.

 

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  As we apply those words to ourselves on this glorious Palm Sunday we ask:  How does that encouragement lead us to have a heart that is filled with humility?  Paul answers that question in a very powerful way when he points us to the example of Jesus Christ Himself.  Paul says concerning 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.”

 

Does it get any clearer than this, my friends?  Jesus is “in very nature God”!  In other words, Jesus is God— with all of the characteristics and all of the attributes of the one and only living God!  Jesus deserved to receive all the praise and all the honor and all the glory that the people showered upon Him as He triumphantly rode into the City of Jerusalem so many years ago— and He still deserves to receive our praise and our honor and our glory today!

 

And yet, even though Jesus is “in very nature God” Paul goes onto reveal to us that Jesus “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.”  What does this mean?  It means that Jesus did not consider His “equality with God” as something He had to “hold on to at all costs.”  He was willing to “let go” of His “equality” with God and be born into this world as the true Son of Man, as our true flesh-and-blood Brother.  These words describe what is known as Jesus’ State of Humiliation.  While Jesus was always true God during His life here on this earth (think of all the miracles He performed!), He willing set aside the full use of His divine power, majesty and glory so that He could serve us in all humility!  As the Lord explained to His disciples, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

 

As Christians it’s very important for us to take the humility that Jesus revealed when He was born in a manger in Bethlehem, the humility He revealed as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and let it fill our own hearts with humility.  Why?  Pride.  Pride is one of the most powerful and one of the most deadly “flaming arrows” (Ephesians 6:16) that Satan uses against us.  Think about it.  It is so very easy for us to look at all the horrible ungodly things that people are doing and promoting today and think to ourselves, “I am so glad that I would never do something like that!”  It is so very easy for us to look at a fellow Christian who is struggling with questions or doubts or weaknesses and say to ourselves, “I am so glad that my faith is so much stronger than theirs!”  Striving to have a Palm Sunday attitude leads us to have a heart that is filled with so much humility that we take to heart what the good Lord says to us through His servant Peter, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

 

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  That encouragement not only leads us to strive for a Palm Sunday attitude by having a heart that is filled with humility, but those words lead us to strive to have a Palm Sunday attitude that leads us to live a life that is motivated by loyalty.  Paul highlights how Jesus’ life was motivated by loyalty when he writes in our text, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

 

Jesus’ entire life was motivated by His loyalty to His heavenly Father and to the Father’s Plan of Salvation for this world.  It was Jesus’ loyalty to His Father and to His Father’s Plan that led Him to leave His home in heaven and be born of a woman.  It was Jesus’ loyalty to His Father and to His Father’s Plan that led Him to live an absolutely perfect life— in our place.  It was Jesus’ loyalty to His Father and to His Father’s Plan that led Him to confront and to conquer every temptation that Satan threw at Him.  It was Jesus’ loyalty to His Father and to His Father’s Plan that led Jesus to clearly and faithfully proclaim God’s Truth to everyone He met.  It was Jesus’ loyalty to His Father and to His Father’s Plan that led Jesus to be “obedient to death— even death on a cross!”  Yes, my friends, it was Jesus’ loyalty to His Father and to His Father’s Plan that led Him to understand that this (Pointing to the cross) was the only way for Him to save us from our own sin!

 

As we strive to have a Palm Sunday attitude, my friends, Jesus’ loyalty to His Father and Jesus’ loyalty to the Father’s Plan for our salvation now leads us to live a life that is motivated by loyalty to Jesus!  What does this mean?  Living a life that is motivated by loyalty to Jesus means that we always put Jesus first in our heart and in our life.  It means that we never allow anyone or anything to become more important to us than our Savior.  Living a life that is motivated by loyalty to Jesus means that we make it clear to the people around us that Jesus is the only way to eternal life in heaven.  We never give anyone the impression that there is even the possibility that there is some other way to be saved— whether it is by doing good works or by trusting in someone other than Jesus.  Living a life that is motivated by loyalty to Jesus means that we always stand firmly on the foundation of God’s holy inspired Word.  We never allow anyone to maintain that the Bible is just another book or that the Bible’s teachings need to change in order to keep up with our ever-changing times.  Yes, my friends, living a life that is motivated by loyalty to Jesus means that we will remain loyal to our Lord and we will remain loyal to His Word— no matter what other people might say and no matter how anyone else might react.

 

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  The final point we want to emphasize is that striving to have a Palm Sunday attitude will lead us to keep our eyes focused on victory!  Paul concludes our text by saying to us, “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 the earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

This portion of our text summarizes what is known as Jesus’ State of Exaltation.  Jesus’ State of Exaltation began when the living Christ descended into hell to proclaim His victory over Satan.  Jesus’ State of Exaltation will continue all the way through His return to this earth as the Judge of the living and the dead and into eternity!

 

Jesus’ State of Exaltation is the natural outcome of both His humility and His loyalty.  Having reached His goal of paying for all the sins of all mankind, having remained loyal to His Father and to His Father’s Plan of Salvation for this world, the heavenly Father “exalted” His Son to the “highest place” and rightfully “gave him the name that is above every name”!  Once again sitting at His Father’s right hand— as the Victor over sin, death and the devil— there is no name more important, there is no name honored more highly than the name— Jesus!  You and I, of course, understand this perfectly and agree with this wholeheartedly.  By the grace and power of God we boldly stand alongside the apostle Peter and say concerning Jesus, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

 

Because of the honor and the glory that Jesus rightfully deserves to receive as the Victor, we gladly and willing say “Amen!” to what Paul reveals to us with the words, “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.”

 

Right now in heaven above all the saints and all the angels are bowing before Jesus and confessing His name as they worship and praise Him.  Right now here on earth all those who have been brought to faith in Jesus as their Savior willingly bow before Him and boldly confess His name as we worship and praise Him.  And one day when Jesus returns to this earth in all of His power, majesty and glory, everyone — even those who rejected Him, even Satan and all his demons— everyone will have no choice but to bow before Jesus and confess that Jesus is Lord!

 

As we strive to have a Palm Sunday attitude Jesus’ victory is what leads us to keep our eyes focused on the victory that Jesus Himself has promised to us!  Think about it.  Jesus’ victory guarantees to us that the difficulties and the hardships, the persecutions and the temptations, the pains and the sorrows that we encounter and endure as we journey through this world are only temporary!  That’s why Paul was able to assure the Christians in Rome and why Paul is able to assure us, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).  When we keep our eyes focused on the cross (Pointing to the cross) and remember what Jesus did for us, then we will always be able to keep our eyes focused on the victory that Jesus has waiting for us!

 

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  As we take that encouragement to heart on this glorious Palm Sunday, I pray that we will indeed strive to have a Palm Sunday attitude— an attitude that leads us to have a heart that is filled with humility, an attitude that leads us to live a life that is motivated by loyalty, an attitude that leads us to keep our eyes focused on victory!

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen