March 25, 2018

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit



Old Testament Lesson; Zechariah 9:9-10

Gospel Lesson; Mark 11:1-10      

Sermon Text (Epistle Lesson); Philippians 2:5-11


The portion of God's Word we will focus on a little more closely today is taken from Philippians, chapter two, looking at verses five through eleven.

Here the Apostle Paul writes:


Indeed, let this attitude be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.  Though He was by nature God, He did not consider equality with God as a prize to be displayed, but He emptied Himself by taking the nature of a servant.  When He was born in human likeness, and His appearance was like that of any other man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.  Therefore God also highly exalted Him and and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in Heaven and on Earth and under Earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



Sometimes, we may wonder why certain portions of scripture were chosen for a certain Sunday of the Church Year.  It is easy to see that, with our Old Testament Lesson, and with our Gospel Lesson for today, isn't it? 

In our Old Testament Lesson Zechariah prophesied that a king would come, riding on a donkey, in humility.  Five hundred years later, our Gospel Lesson fulfills that prophesy, and today we are celebrating Palm Sunday, the day on which Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, in humility. 

But, what about our Epistle Lesson for today?  What in the world does our Epistle Lesson have to do with Palm Sunday?  Well, it ties in beautifully.  As we see, not only the humiliation of Christ in these verses, but we also see the exaltation of Christ, as well. 

During the course of my message, here today, I will be focusing on those two things.  So, here is what Paul does.  He masterfully takes us by the hand, and he leads us through the humiliation and exultation of Christ.

Paul begins by reminding us of who Jesus is.  Jesus isn't just an ordinary person like anybody else.  Jesus is true God, and true Man in one person.  Now, knowing that, this is what the Apostle Paul says about Jesus. 

I love looking at different translations in scripture.  Maybe you have noticed that for the past little while we have been looking at the EHV, the translation known as The Evangelical Heritage Version.  This is what it says about Jesus. 

“Jesus did not consider equality with God

as a prize to be displayed...”

That is not how I am used to reading that portion of scripture.  I am used to hearing the NIV, The New International Version which says,

“Jesus did not consider equality with God

something to be grasped...”

So, the EHV says, “ a prize to be displayed”.  I really like that.  When we win an award, or when we win a prize, or a trophy, what do we like to do with it?  We like to put it on display, don't we?  The refrigerator at home has all of the wonderful awards that have been won, correct?  A year ago, we had our very first Bean Bag Toss Tournament, here at Holy Cross.  I was paired up with Katherine Becker.  We won first place!  And, guess what I did?  The trophy was given to us, and I proudly put it on display in my office.  So, people would come into my office, and they would be like, “Hey, what's the trophy for?”  

A big smile would come upon my face, as I would recount to them, “Look at what we did!” 

I put it on display, right?  First place!

Oftentimes, we like to tell people who we are, and what we have done.  Back in the 1960's there was a famous boxer, Mohammed Ali.  What is his famous phrase, that he is known for saying?  “I am the greatest.”

Just this last weekend we heard of an incident that happened at the Super Bowl.  Maybe you heard about it, too.  There is a famous football player by the name of Michael Bennett.  He used to be the defensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks.  Now, in the off season, he has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. 

His brother is Martellis Bennett.  Remember, he played for the Packers as a tight end this past year, before he was released. 

Well, he was on the New England Patriot's team, playing in the Super Bowl. 

Michael Bennett was at the Super Bowl, and he wanted to get down on to the field to get a picture taken with his brother.  But, he didn't have the proper credentials.  And so, you maybe heard what he allegedly did.  He blasted past a few security workers, allegedly injuring one of them.  He said, “You all must know who I am”.  He was trying to get down on the field, because of who he was, and because of what he had done.

That is what happened in the Apostle Paul's day, as well.  Oftentimes when generals would come back from battle, victorious, they would want to set up monuments to themselves, so that people could give glory to them, because of what they had done.

But, Jesus was not like that.  When Jesus came, He came in humility.  He didn't boast about who He was. 

Back in 1979 there was a man by the name of Robert Mayer.  He was a musician, who was turning 100 years old (he ended up living to be 105).  So, they threw this party for Sir Robert Mayer, in England, on his 100th birthday. 

The queen was invited to the party.  There was also a well known socialite who came to the party, whose name was Diana Cooper.  Diana ended up sitting next to Queen Elizabeth, but because her eye sight was so bad, she didn't realize it was Queen Elizabeth she had been visiting with for the entire evening.  Near the end of the night, she noticed the diamonds that were around this lady's neck, and realized who it was she was talking to.  She was talking with Queen Elizabeth for the whole night!  Diana said, “Queen, I am sorry I didn't recognize you earlier.  I didn't recognize you without your crown on.”

That is when Queen Elizabeth said, “I left my crown at home today, because the focus was not to be on me.  The focus was to be on the man who is turning 100 years old.  The focus is on Sir Robert Mayer.”

That is how Jesus came.  Jesus came in humility.  Every time we confess our faith, using The Apostle's Creed (this morning we sang it), we confess the humiliation of Jesus.  We confess that Jesus chose not to use His full, divine powers in His human nature.  He did that when we say these six verbs:

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified,

died, and

was buried. 

With those six verbs, we confess Jesus' humiliation.  He came in humility.  He came in humbleness for you, and for me.  That is part of what our text for today is showing us - humiliation of Christ. 

But then, we tie it in with this Sunday, and are reminded Jesus rode into Jerusalem in humility on that very first Palm Sunday.

Our text for today also tells us Jesus was exalted.  Now, in Jesus' state of exaltation, He chooses to use His full, divine powers in His human nature.  Again, in The Apostle's Creed we confess that with these five verbs:

He descended into Hell. 

The third day He rose again from the dead. 

He ascended into Heaven. 

He sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. 

From there He will come to judge the living, and the dead.

Our text for today also confesses that, as well.  God now also highly exalted Jesus, after He fulfilled the work He came to do for you, and for me.

I am going to admit something to you today.  I want you to know I struggled with this sermon this past week.  I didn't struggle with the content, but I struggled with the delivery.  The reason I struggled with the delivery is this.  What is the opposite of humility?  Well, the opposite of humility is pride.  It is arrogance.  It is boastfulness.  I knew today I would have to stand before you, and talk about the sins of pride, arrogance, and boastfulness.  The reason I struggled with that is because I should not be the one who is telling you about that this morning.  I am a hypocrite.  How can I tell you about your pride, arrogance, and boastfulness, if that is what is inside of me?  I have had conversations these past couple of weeks, and I have been in meetings these past couple of weeks in which my pride, my arrogance, and my boastfulness has shown itself.

How can I talk to you about your pride?  Well, that is what God's Word wants us to do.  That is what the Apostle Paul wants us to talk about in our text for today.  We are the ones who have failed God.  We are the ones who have sinned against Him with our pride, with our arrogance, and with our boastfulness. 

What did Jesus do about it?  Our text clearly tells us what Jesus did about it.  He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Jesus paid for our sin of pride, and arrogance, as He humbled Himself for you, and for me.  He paid for every single, last one of those sins, by His death on the cross. 

Now, having forgiven us of our sin, having given us life in Heaven, God has exalted Him.  Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father.  He is waiting for that day when He will come to judge the living, and the dead.

Which gets us back to the very first phrase in our text for today.  The Apostle Paul begins with this phrase. 

“...let this attitude be in you...” 

Wow those are powerful words.  Let this attitude be in you.  He says, “Look at what Christ has done for you.  He has humbled Himself for you.  But, He was also exalted for you.  Now, let this attitude be in you.”

There once was a commentator who wrote this.  He said, “The Apostle Paul, by these verses, shows in an unforgettable and convincing manner that the community (that community is us) for which the Lord of Glory came and died, and rose again must share His Spirit, and be controlled by the pattern of humility, which Jesus' incarnation and cross supremely exemplifies.”
So, how can that attitude be shown in our homes?  Well, it can be shown, as we put the needs of others ahead of our own. 

How can that attitude be shown in the classroom?  Well, it can be shown, as we put the needs of our fellow students ahead of our own. 

How can that attitude display itself in our marriages?  It can be shown, as we put the needs of our spouse ahead of our own. 

How can that attitude be shown at work?  As we put the needs of our coworkers ahead of our own, it is shown. 

And, how can that attitude be shown in the world?  It happens, as we put the needs of others ahead of our own.

Today, we begin our journey into Holy Week.  It begins on this Palm Sunday, as Jesus rides into Jerusalem in humility for you, and for me.  May our attitude be like Christ.



Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, shall be now and forever more.