I will be preaching this Sunday – which is Palm Sunday the celebration of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week which is the most sacred week of the Christian year.
While many Palm Sunday services focus on the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, I want us to look at Paul’s letter to the Philippians Chapter 2 verses 1 through 11. Paul’s understanding of these events – Palm Sunday and Holy Week – (like that of the Christians in Philippi, the Gospel writers, and ours) is one from already knowing what happened – Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, and rose from the dead. Therefore in Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi, Paul knowing that they too know what happened, begs them to adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus – to imitate Christ.”…if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus.” (Ph 2:1-3,5) Paul understands that if we really take to heart what Christ Jesus did (culminating in the events of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter) then WE WILL be different! Our life, our walk, and our journey will be visibly changed by our knowing – visibly changed by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
Paul reminds the Christians in Philippi (and us), that in all that Jesus did, throughout his ministry, he continually demonstrated how we are to put the needs of others in front of our own. Christ Jesus (God incarnate) put our need to see the depth of God’s love for us above his own life by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and following the path of the next several days which would take him to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. Paul challenges them (and us) to imitate Christ – “Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.” (Ph 2:5)
What does it mean to imitate Christ? Imitating Christ is not a realistic expectation – after all, he was crucified! What does “adopting the attitude that was in Christ Jesus” mean? I put the needs of others in front of my own some times – that’s good enough, isn’t it? Has my my life been visibly changed by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus?
I look forward to riding into this Palm Sunday together.
Your sister in Christ,
2 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, 2 complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. 3 Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. 4 Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. 5 Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:6 Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.7 But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human,8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.9 Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names,10 so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.