Roger's Postings

Friday, March 30, 2012

Philippians 2:5-11.                  Here comes your King!!          1/4/12

 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 Palm Sunday thinking has become prominent in the lives of many people these days: they are running to and fro looking for a king – looking for greatness - looking for someone or something that will bring ease, comfort and peace into their lives. And at the first hint of a new thing, invention or way of thinking, people rush to get on the bandwagon - hoping for some real benefits for themselves.

 So, things are no different today, it seems, than it was on that first Palm Sunday. There, masses of people rushed out to hail Jesus as King: he was hopefully going to be the new saviour of the Israelite nation. Here was a king who could heal the sick; feed the poor; and even raise the dead; and since he could do that, he could surely also run the Romans out of town so that they could once again become a great nation. Then they would enjoy peace and have an easy, pleasurable life: they could sit back in the lap of luxury.

 It is interesting isn't it, how humanity seeks after anything that will make life easier for us; especially if it entails little commitment on our part. We run after and hail that which promises to bring peace and wellbeing into our life – promising to give us health, wealth and happiness. We are only too willing to make these things king in our lives; ignoring the truth for the sake of ease and pleasure. Even when we look to God and Jesus Christ, how often there again we are simply looking for him to fulfil our wishes and give us what we want, or to get us out of a difficult spot that we have gotten ourselves into; or to make it so that we don't have to be too committed and involved and yet still have everything that we want. Along with this, we all too often will believe anyone or anything that twists Scripture to promise that kind of thing for us.

As a matter of course, when God doesn't produce the goods just the way that we want, then we cast him aside. On that first Palm Sunday where were all those people who raced to meet Jesus as he enters Jerusalem a couple of days later? When he didn't do things their way they soon started yelling for his blood: Crucify him! Crucify him!

 The same happens today. Look at most of those people who are abandoning Jesus and his Church, simply because they no longer see him as being useful, or that the promises made by some leader of theirs fails to come to fruition; or what they presumed Christianity to be all about isn’t really right; or when they don’t get their up-beat trendy worship service. They cast him and his Church aside in favour of fishing, golfing and many other things: ignoring him because they think he let them down in some form or other. When all we seek is the great, spectacular and easy life, it is then that we will be let down and tempted to abandon the one we are looking to. If all we seek from God is health, wealth and happiness then when some of those things disappear our faith is in trouble. When sickness, death and financial crisis occurs; as it surely does, many turn their backs on God because things didn't happen the way they reasoned it was supposed to have.

 But when we look to Jesus we see that he came with a completely different attitude. He didn't come here for his ease and comfort; nor to provide a great show so as to draw people to following his way of life; nor to be a great and influential leader. No, he came in order to suffer and die for us. The reading that we just heard brings that out very well. The amazing thing is, that despite the fact that his thinking and actions were so radically different from our common human response he still achieves the greatness that we so desperately seek after. Above all, it meets the real needs of every single human being on earth: Maybe not their wants - but certainly their needs. No matter what the situation - no matter what we have done, Jesus' coming makes all the difference.

 He knew that we were in trouble with no way out: every one of us. We might like to try and fool ourselves into thinking we are OK – that we are not so bad, but he knows the real situation and he cares. He comes down off his perch as God where everything is good and perfect, and he takes on our humanity. He leaves all the comforts – all the glory -all the power behind and comes right down to the level of the lowliest person on earth. He is not afraid of dirtying his reputation by associating with sinners: troublemakers; you and I and every other person on earth. He gets right down to where we are and experiences everything we experience and more: and even though he was perfectly innocent, he accepts death – the worst deaths - death on a cross - one of the cruellest forms dying known to man; and he does it for you and me.

 You see, he knew that we have done, are doing, and will continue to do heaps wrong: that we are only interested in one person, our self; and that time and time again we will go against our God. He knew this and he knew that we deserved to be punished for it: not just with the punishment we bring on ourselves in this life, but above all, eternal punishment in Hell.

 He knew all this that was in store for us, but he didn't want that to happen to us, so he accepts on himself all that punishment we deserve: he suffered and died for every single little and big thing we have done wrong: he suffered and died for the sinful nature that is at the very heart of every one of us: he literally went to Hell and back for each one of us. He put aside his glory and got down to doing what had to be done: he got down to doing what was necessary for us to be saved; and in so doing we end up with all we really need in life; we end up with the easy way to heaven, no cost to us, courtesy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Having done all that is important for us, God then raised his Son to life again so that all people and all generations can look to Jesus Christ and see that He is now the one who holds the key to life: He now can be King not only for those people who lived 2,000 years ago; but that he is now King of the whole world, for all time. And the time will come when every single human being; believers and others alike, will recognise who this Jesus really is and the importance of what he has done. For us who believe, of course then, we will join him in his glory; but for those who couldn't give damn about him now in their everyday life, and who would sooner go fishing, golfing or whatever, instead of worshipping him and seeking to live as he would have us; they will suddenly realize what a terrible mistake they have made. In Hell they will rue their days here on earth and their failure to give proper consideration to Jesus Christ.

 So, yes, Jesus Christ is Lord – he is King, yesterday, today and forever. So let us look to him and what he has done for us - particularly on the cross, his throne. Sure it is not big and spectacular. It is not the easy road through life - but it works – it is where true life really is. It does not fit the criteria of what we associate with greatness; but it does mean that throughout life we can rest assured that our most important needs have been taken care of; and with that, everything else finds its place and meaning.

 Jesus Christ comes as King to you and me; to all who feel weak and uncomfortable; in the midst of hardship and pain; even in the face of death itself. In the midst of any and all of this we find this one who gives real help, our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. This coming week be reminded again of how this Jesus took up his throne on the cross, so that all who believe in him can have a truly blest life here on earth in the midst of suffering and hardship; and above all, be assured of eternal life with our Lord and King in heaven. So this Easter ponder again the greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ and what he has done for us; and there find the peace, joy and salvation that we so desperately need and which our Lord wants for us. Then again may all glory, honour and praise go to our great God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for all that he has and is doing for us. AMEN

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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