Awaiting Our Exalted Savior
Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 11:1-11
April 9, 2006
Open by talking about the wait at an airport for someone you are picking up. What do you think about? Often I find myself thinking about the person I’m picking up. The last time we were together. Things we did in the past. Things we are planning to do in the future. Certain characteristics about the person. Funny things they have said or done, etc.
Why I’m waiting for them, I’m often thinking of them. But is that all I think about? No. I get distracted. There are a lot of people at airports. There is a lot of activity at airports. I’m a busy individual with lots of things going on. My mind wanders to the tasks I have left to do or people I need to contact or whatever.
I wonder how that works for us, as we wait for the Lord? Here we are just a week away from Easter, this, the last week of lent, today Palm Sunday! We wait – not for the Easter of the past, but for the Easter to end all Easters!
Where are our minds as we wait for Jesus to return? What is it that consumes us? Ultimately, what is it that defines us today as we wait for Jesus?
There are a lot of things that can define us, or are trying to define us today:
- Our status
- Our style
- Our wealth or lack of it.
- Our theology
- Our future and plans
- Our fears
- Our past – either failures or accomplishments
- Our heritage
- Our Education
- Our family.
- Our Church
- Our Faith.
Begin with Jesus – He is on the road to the cross.
Read Mark 11:1-11
1As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into that village over there,” he told them, “and as soon as you enter it, you will see a colt tied there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’ ”
4 The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside a house. 5 As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.
8 Many in the crowd spread their coats on the road ahead of Jesus, and others cut leafy branches in the fields and spread them along the way. 9 He was in the center of the procession, and the crowds all around him were shouting,
“Praise God! Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Bless the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!”
11 So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked around carefully at everything, and then he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he went out to Bethany with the twelve disciples.
I wonder what Jesus’ thoughts were as He began this journey into Jerusalem? Was He nervous? Angry? Determined?
One of the struggles I have to come to terms with in my own spiritual journey is that I look at this experience:
- Knowing the end.
- From fallen eyes!
I need to face the reality that I need Jesus to transform my heart and my mind each day in order to:
ü become more like Him,
ü to be able to see the world as He does
ü to be able to understand or navigate my circumstances in ways that would reflect Jesus as my Lord.
Jesus, even at this point in the journey was faced with many different options. He could have gone many different directions. How did He know the way to God?
Here He is riding into town on this colt with everyone lavishing praise and adoration on Him. It reminds me of a Hollywood gala event. The only difference is that it wasn’t the dignitaries who were in town and front and center was it?
Remember, Rome was in control of Jerusalem. The Jews were tolerated in their own country. They were occupied by Rome if you will.
Jesus, at this point, had the support of the people. He could have called down His Blue Angels and His white angels and whatever other color of angels to eliminate the Roman Army. He would have the support of the many throngs of people who were crying out for their savior to save them… but from what and for what?
Yesterday at Conference Wayne Hochstetler talked to us a bit about vision in the morning sermon. He referenced Isaiah 49:1-13.
READ Isaiah 49:1-13
Listen to me, all of you in far-off lands! The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name. 2 He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.”
4 I replied, “But my work all seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose at all. Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”
5 And now the Lord speaks—he who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring his people of Israel back to him. The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength. 6 He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
7 The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the one who is despised and rejected by a nation, to the one who is the servant of rulers: “Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will bow low because the Lord has chosen you. He, the faithful Lord, the Holy One of Israel, chooses you.”
The prophet had a vision – he knew what God wanted him to do. V. 5 He was commissioned to bring Israel back to God. Remember the context here.
His vision was to help free Israel from captivity. If they would only repent and come to the Lord then God would free them from the awful captivity they were experiencing!
But God had a different vision.
Read v. 6. “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me…”
Back to Jesus on His journey into Jerusalem.
Why didn’t He call down the angels and establish His Kingdom right then and there? Why didn’t He eradicate Rome and free the people from their bondage? This is clearly what the people had defined as Christ’s role in their own minds. And they even did it being fully informed of the scriptures – just as the prophet Isaiah was!
Jesus saw the big picture! He knew His Father and trusted His will.
Now, Mike, Jesus was and is God – He and His Father had IM back then even and …..
No. Jesus was fully human too! He had free will. He had to submit to the Father’s will. He, like you and I, could do as he pleased. He could do as He saw fit.
Ken read for us from Philippians 2 this morning and I would like for us to consider this morning how our relationship with an everlasting and ever-present loving God can define us before all of those other things I mentioned earlier. You see, if we keep our vision short I believe we miss the opportunities that God has for us.
If we are only concerned about our selves, our families, or even our own church then we miss what God is doing. Oh, yes, God is concerned about you. Very concerned about you! But He knows something you don’t!
A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. "What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning. "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, Mr. Mouse,
I can tell this is a grave concern to you but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it." The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers." The mouse turned to the cow and said, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose." So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer's wife did not get well; she died.
So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them. The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.
God knows how we are all connected. He created us that way. When we only focus on our own wants or even needs, we miss the bigger picture. We miss the fullness of God’s vision. Jesus was able to submit to God’s will.
Philippians 2. This is our call. The church was in turmoil because people were focusing so much on their own agenda’s and on their own interests all these good things were dividing them. Paul pleads with them to be united in Christ Jesus!
Read Philippians again.
The only way this unity would happen is if they humbled themselves before the Lord, just as Jesus did. In this humility and in this submission they would then be able to see a little more clearly God’s purpose and plan for them. They would be able to see a little more clearly how they all fit together to accomplish God’s goals rather then just their own.
Having a bigger vision - in the early 20th century a world market for only 4 million automobiles was forecast because “the world would run out of chauffeurs.” Shortly after the end of World War II, the whole of Volkswagen, factory and patents, was offered free to Henry Ford II. He dismissed the Volkswagen Beetle as a bad design. The Beetle became one of the best-selling vehicles of all time.
In closing, as we face this Holy week ahead and as we face the promise of Easter, where are our minds focused? Is it:
- On what I want to accomplish?
- On what we should accomplish?
- On what we have accomplished?
Or are we focused enough on God that His Holy Spirit humbles us and moves us to complete submission to Him!
I believe, friends, that if we can continue to learn the gift of complete submission to God and His will that He will fit us together as living stones – building us into a force that will have a mighty impact on this world? Why? Because we will be modeling His Kingdom – how He wants it modeled right here in our little part of the world! You see, only God see’s how we fit into His plan and so we move forward in trust, in prayer, in humility and in complete submission to Him.