Sermon Philippians 2:5-11
(paired with Matt. 21:1-11)
A parade is usually something we enjoy watching as it passes by. It can be fun to be spectators! But this Palm Sunday procession of Jesus into the holy city calls for us to be more than mere spectators. On this side of the cross and resurrection, we know that our cheers are to be accompanied by our discipleship, our full participation “in Christ”.
A. In Philippians, Paul puts it this way: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus”.
1. There is nothing more private and personal than one’s own mind. Yet Paul envisions such a close relationship between Christ and his people that followers will share his deepest thoughts and motivations.
2. How can we know what was in Christ’s mind? The verses that follow may be part of an ancient Christian hymn. They describe the attitude of Jesus Christ not only in this world, but also in his eternal relationship with God the Father.
3. The “mind” of Christ is characterized by obedience, servanthood, and humility. He willingly gave up his privileged position as the only begotten Son, and came to earth as a vulnerable human, subject to all the dangers and limitations of human life.
4. More than this, he obeyed even to death on the cross. From the mightiest status of Godhood he took on the lowliest position of “slavery” and death.
B. Is it really possible for us to “have this same mind” among us? It seems to contradict so much of what our culture teaches us to value: power, privilege, and wealth.
1. Paul understands that such a “counter-cultural” stance is the result of our being “in Christ”.
2. The attributes of humility and servanthood are not so much things we “produce” as they are the outcome Christ’s presence in us—the “fruit of the Spirit”.
3. At the same time, the very fact that Paul exhorts his readers to “have the same Mind” indicates that effort and intentionality are required.
4. Surrounding this text are direct calls to unity, compassion, and concern for others.
5. This dual approach is captured beautifully in the passage immediately following: “…Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure”.
C. How, in practical terms, can this call to have the mind of Christ be implemented?
1. We can grow in our trust of God, and thus relinquish our tight grip on power, realizing that all is in God’s hands.
2. We can work to maintain unity in our congregation, our homes, and our places of employment.
3. We can look out for others, not in a busy-body way, but out of genuine concern for their well-being.
4. We can pitch in where there is servant-work to do.
D. This text ends on a note of exaltation. Jesus Christ, who obeyed to the “lowest” point is now raised to the highest.
1. It looks forward to the day when all creation will acclaim our Servant Lord, just as the crowd on Palm Sunday shouted their hosannas. This represents the ultimate triumph of humble obedience, not violence and power-plays.
2. Thus, the stance of disciples is that of proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ, crucified love now enthroned; and living as those who “have this same among you”.
As we welcome Christ in his triumphal entry this Palm Sunday, let us not just wave from the sidelines. Let us join him in his journey to the cross, in his surprising resurrection, and in his compassionate service to a needy world.