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  • Writer's pictureRev. Gerald (Jerry) Reiter, Emeritus

Jesus Is Lord

Palm Sunday


In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:


Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming 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 acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Mark 14:1-11


Picture Jesus coming down the slopes of the Mount of Olives, across the valley made by the Little Kidron Brook, and up the slope of Mount Moriah to the Golden Gate – the crowds going ahead of Him, putting their clothes and palm branches on the road, and other crowds following Him – and they’re all shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!”


What a day it was! But what the people didn’t know was that Jesus’ days on Earth had dwindled down to a handful. As He entered Jerusalem on that little donkey, He also entered His final, fatal week. The common people greeted Him with great enthusiasm – the religious leaders eyed Him with suspicion and resentment. Both responses reached a climax during the busy days of what we’ve come to call “Holy Week.”


The acclaim of the crowds reached a fever pitch on that first Palm Sunday. His reputation had gone on ahead of Him, and the crowds knew He was “the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.” But if the praise of the multitudes reached its apex that day, so did the resentment of their leaders. The conflict that had begun three years before with the first announcements that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, was now to become acute and culminate in a plot of death. The loud Hosannas of Palm Sunday would, in just a few days, give way to cries of “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Which looked like a disastrous end to a short life. And yet the Apostle Paul told the people of Corinth, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” And that’s our message yet today. The Church of Jesus Christ has only one message: Christ – and Him crucified!


Now that doesn’t mean that we say the same thing every week, at least I hope we don’t! There are so many aspects of who the Lord Jesus is, and what He says, and what He did, and what He teaches, and what He requires, and how we can know Him, and what we can do about it – there are so many different things to know that in a whole lifetime you could never exhaust all there is to know about Christ.


Our Epistle lesson for today tells us much about Jesus, and yet that wasn’t why it was written! It was actually written as an illustration of the attitude that ought to govern a person who professes to be a Christian. So the passage is introduced with these words: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”


And what was this “attitude” that Jesus had? Humility! Jesus Christ, in the greatest act of humility that the world has ever known, decided not to hold on to the position of equality with God. Willingly, and joyfully, He emptied Himself of all the trappings of deity and was “born in the likeness of men.” The Lord Jesus Christ, who was rich, for our sake became poor, in order that we, through His poverty, might be made rich!


Now here’s a funny thing: everybody says that Jesus Christ was the greatest man who ever lived – or at least one of the greatest. But for some reason we all tend to deny the principles that made Him great. He never did any of the things we say you have to do if you’re going to be great. In fact, He flatly contradicted the things that we insist you’ve got to do if you’re going to be great. He summarized this truth by saying that “He that’s going to be greatest among you has got to learn to be a servant.” (Matt 23:11)


Why is it that people say Jesus Christ was a great man if they deny and reject the principles of His existence, of His humility, of His desire to serve – the willingness to bend the knee and willingness to wash His servants’ feet? Why is it that we think He’s so great? Why aren’t we prepared to have the same mind and the same attitude?


You know, it’s interesting that some people say that Jesus was the greatest man who ever lived, but deny that He was God, because they’ve argued themselves into a corner! They must answer a tough question: Why would a man say He was God if He wasn’t? There are really only two answers: He was crazy, or He was a scoundrel. So, the person who says that Jesus was the greatest man who ever lived, but wasn’t the God He claimed to be, is in the position of saying that the greatest man who ever lived was crazy or a scoundrel or a crazy scoundrel!


Some people say, “Jesus was just a great teacher.” But the funny thing about His teaching was this – after 3 years He ended up with 12 pupils, none of whom got the message, and every one of whom flunked! Jesus taught a very simple message. “I’m going to die and rise again.” Only eleven men and a few women stuck with Him to the end – and most of them barely stuck with Him – and not one of them believed that He would rise again from the dead!


His disciples made no preparation for His resurrection. The only people who did make preparations for it were His enemies, who had a sneaking suspicion that something funny was going to happen.


The bottom line is this: you must either accept what Jesus said about Himself, and agree that He was the greatest man who ever lived – that He was God who humbled Himself and became a man. Or you must say, “Forget the whole business! He was a phony!”


Now, when I acknowledge that Jesus was real, and that He was supreme in life, I have to ask myself, “What made Him big?” And the answer comes out loud and clear: He humbled Himself! That’s how a great man becomes great. He was God, but He emptied Himself, and “being found in human form He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”


But that’s not the end of the story, and I’m glad the story doesn’t end there! “Therefore,” we read, “God has highly exalted Him.” The great message of the Gospel is that Jesus stepped from the heights to the depths – to the criminal’s agonizing death of crucifixion.


But the Bible teaches us that God had no intention of leaving Him there. And so, God highly exalted Him. First of all, He raised Him from the dead. The greatest bedrock of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead! If Jesus Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain!! I’ll go back to selling fireplaces, and you can go play golf on Sunday mornings, if Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead.


But if Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, this is the greatest truth this world has ever known! Because when God raised Christ from the dead He defeated all that ever defeated a human being. The resurrection of Jesus Christ turned the greatest tragedy to the greatest triumph the world has ever known. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and God exalted Him.


But the resurrection was just the beginning of His great exaltation. For we read that God gave Him “the name which is above every name.” God took Christ from the depths and raised Him to the heights. He put everyone and everything under His feet and gave Him the name King of Kings and Lord of Lords.


Do you remember Lloyd Douglas’ book, “The Robe”? Or maybe you saw the movie? Do you remember, Demetrius catches a glimpse of Jesus as He rides into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday – and He grasps the meaning of Christ’s Passion. For even though there’s a crowd, somehow Jesus’ eyes catch those of Demetrius, and Demetrius is deeply moved, never to be the same again. Later, someone approaches Demetrius, and asks, “Do you think this Jesus is some crazy fanatic?” “No,” replies Demetrius, “He’s not crazy.” “What then? Is he really a king?” “No,” Demetrius replies, “He’s not just a king. He’s someone far more important than just a king!”


More important than a king! The greatest person who ever lived! The Son of God who emptied Himself to become one of us – and humbled Himself, even to death on the cross – for us! And Paul says, “You have this attitude too!”


But that’s not easy, is it? It’s hard for us to accept the attitude of Christ, and reject our own selfish life. It’s hard for us to acknowledge that the way to a resurrection life is through the cross. It’s hard for us to admit that the only way the power of God can work through us is if we humble ourselves before Him. And the hardest thing for us to admit is that the only way to exaltation is through humbling ourselves.


But the Lord Jesus taught it. He said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”


That might be diametrically opposed to all human principles, but it’s the way God works. And our best illustration is Jesus. The way to the throne was through the tomb. The way to the crown was through the cross. The way to Christ’s exaltation – and the exaltation of millions of redeemed souls – was through the agony of Calvary.


And the way to a life lived in the power of God down here on Earth is through humility and bending the knee to Christ as Lord. It starts when I as a sinner come to the foot of the cross and say, “Lord Jesus, forgive me. Lord Jesus, change me, and by the power of your resurrection, lift me up.” “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”, Paul tells us.


People often say, “What on Earth is the world coming to?” If you ever hear anybody say that, you know what to tell them. Just say, “Every knee shall bow, in Heaven, and on Earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” And they’ll look at you as if you’re nuts! People will squirm and argue and will try to evade it and avoid it – but they can’t refute it!


But if I accept the Scripture, I see that the world is coming to a time of total subjugation to Christ, so that every knee will bow to Him. And the world is coming to a time of total acknowledgement of Christ, so that every tongue will confess Him. And I thank God that I know Jesus Christ as my Savior – for He is Lord!


And I try to live my life in the light of this truth. If there will be a day that I have to acknowledge Christ as Lord, I want to start practicing now. And if there’s going to be a day when every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Lord, I want to practice now. And I don’t want to get away with as little as possible down here on Earth; I want to be now, what I’m going to be then.


If Jesus Christ was Lord, and is Lord, and will be Lord, and everybody’s going to admit it, He’ll settle for nothing less than being Lord now. It means my knee – and yours – subjected to Him now. It means my tongue – and yours – confessing Him now. And it means my life – and yours – praising Him now. All to the glory of God the Father!


Amen

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