Jesus Is Our King!
O Lord Jesus, may we worship and receive You this day with joy and enthusiasm, even as the crowds of old did as You entered Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday. Fill our hearts with an understanding of Your truths and a commitment to prove ourselves faithful in Your kingdom. It is in Your saving name that we pray. Amen.
The promised Savior here speaks of His willingness to face His adversary and fulfill the will of the Lord God. He was willing to do so, even though it would involve great suffering, for He knew He would ultimately triumph!
Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday amid the shouts and praise of the onlooking crowds. He entered Jerusalem "in the name of the Lord" and determined to fulfill His calling to suffer, after which He would be raised to glory as our King!
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father.
In Christ Jesus, our precious Savior and our glorious King, dear fellow redeemed:
When I was a child, I often wondered how the people of Jerusalem could greet Jesus so enthusiastically on Palm Sunday and then turn around and condemn him to death on Good Friday. How could anyone cry out “hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:9) one day and “let Him be crucified” (Matthew 27:23) just five days later? Part of the answer lies in the fact that not all of the same people were involved. Jesus’ disciples, who were no doubt among the most vocal in singing Jesus’ praises on Palm Sunday, were in hiding Good Friday morning. The Jewish religious leaders, who were certainly loudly denouncing Jesus on Good Friday, were in the crowds on Palm Sunday, but they were not singing Jesus’ praises. Rather, they were urging Jesus to quiet the crowds, to which suggestion Jesus responded, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). There were, no doubt, some people who were in both crowds, but that thought no longer surprises me. How can people change so quickly? Just look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, "How can I be so enthused about Jesus on Sunday morning, and then find myself at times denying Him by my words or deeds by Monday afternoon?" No, it really should not surprise us to hear people proclaiming Jesus to be their King on Palm Sunday, and then to cry out “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15) on Good Friday morning. Yet, that should not happen. While we must confess that we fall into sin and in so doing deny our Savior’s lordship in our lives, we still as His confessing disciples acknowledge Him to be our King. Let us not be afraid to acknowledge it. Let us rather proclaim this truth boldly—JESUS IS OUR KING! Believing that, let us embrace His humble attitude and let us confess His glorious name!
St. Paul addressed the words of our text to his beloved friends in Philippi. These people had been so supportive of his work, and thereby revealed their love for and dedication to their Savior. But St. Paul had heard that some of the members were having problems with each other. He consequently prefaced this text with a plea for love and unity. He urged the Philippians to be “like-minded, having the same love” and warned them against “selfish ambition and conceit” (2:2-3). Then, to demonstrate that this was to be the standard for Christian lives, he urged them to follow the example of Jesus. He wrote, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
St. Paul urged them, even as he urges us, to embrace Jesus’ humble attitude! During His earthly ministry Jesus “existed in the form of God.” He was true God from all eternity, possessing all honor and glory. He could have rightfully demanded complete submission by everyone and everything, and yet during His ministry, He did not regard His “equality with God a thing to be grasped.” What does that mean? It means that while Jesus possessed all power, honor, and glory and demonstrated that fact upon occasion through His miracles, He did not use His power simply to show off, to satisfy His own ego, to be a big shot, or to gain worldly fame or material advantage. No, St. Paul tells us, He rather “emptied Himself” of the full use of His power and glory. He took on the “form of a bond-servant” and “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
This is the example of humility we are to embrace. How rare it is to find people, even Christian people, who embrace such humility! How difficult it is truly to embrace such humility! Everything in our culture radiates against such a Christ-like attitude. Our society is all about individual rights and self-promotion, from "you deserve a break today" to "an army of one!" Who goes to college to become a servant? No, you go to college to get ahead in the world. You work hard, so that others might serve you—not so that you will serve them. Yet, St. Paul says, "No, but rather embrace Jesus’ humble attitude!"
My dear friends, we have been created by God and gifted through that creative process, so that we will be equipped to serve others, especially our fellow believers. It is easy to see the problem with political leaders, is it not, if they serve themselves rather than others? A good politician is a civil "servant"—yes, someone who is determined to use the authority entrusted to him to serve others. In the same way, we are called upon by God to serve others. As St. Paul says in the verse immediately preceding our text, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (2:4). It is when we do that—when we use our expertise, or our special talent, or our financial resources to help others—that blessings will abound not just for others, but also for ourselves. As Jesus Christ, our King, willingly humbled Himself to serve and to save us, so St. Paul calls upon us to embrace Jesus’ humble attitude!
Yes, JESUS IS OUR KING! Let us, secondly, confess His glorious name! St. Paul writes in our text, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father.” When Jesus completed God’s plan for our salvation by dying on the cross, He commended His spirit to God the Father (cf. Luke 23:46). God the Father raised Him from the dead three days later, confirming the success of His redemptive work. He then “highly exalted Him”—placing in His hands “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18) and seating Him “at His right hand in the heavenly places,” so that He might “be head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:20,22). Our Savior Jesus is our King—exercising His authority on our behalf. Consequently, we can live with joy and in confidence, for our Savior is watching over us.
"But," the skeptics of this world ask, "How is it that Christians face so many troubles, if indeed Jesus is their King and rulers over them? Why does He not prevent all troubles and thereby prove He is in charge?" It is not up to us to question the will and the ways of God and our Savior King. His ways are not always our ways (cf. Isaiah 55:8). The presence of evil in this world as perpetrated by sinful men does not negate the presence of the good effected by our loving Savior. We do know that it is at times through those very difficulties that we endure that good can and does result, for as our Savior has promised, He will work all things together for good to those who love Him (cf. Romans 8:28).
This we know, that our Savior King rules in heaven above. All things good and evil are subject to His divine control, and while Satan and His myriad of angels huff and puff and storm about with their rantings, they cannot harm us when we stand by our King’s side and wield the sword of His word (cf. Ephesians 6:17). We see how St. Paul himself, while writing this very epistle from a prison cell in Rome, was able to “rejoice always in the (his) Lord” (4:4) and how he was able to “do all things through Christ” who strengthened him (4:13). This he could do, this we can do for JESUS IS OUR KING! On the last day, that which is invisible to our eyes today will become evident to all, as every being in heaven, on earth, and under the earth will bow the knee before Jesus and acknowledge Him to be Lord of all.
It is because this is true, that we must be prepared boldly to confess Jesus’ glorious name! It may not be popular in our day or politically correct to proclaim that Jesus alone is mankind’s Savior, that His word alone presents truth in spiritual matters, and that all must come to Jesus to be eternally saved. But may we do so gladly, for this is spiritual truth, and it is this truth that all must come to recognize in order to inherit eternal salvation.
My dear friends, Jesus, the apostles Paul, Peter, James, and John all reveal in Scripture that persecution will arise for believing children of God. It is not and will never be easy to confess our Savior’s name. In ancient Rome, it meant the possibility of death in the arenas of that day. In China and many other countries today, it means the possibility of imprisonment and perhaps death. In our country, it means the possibility of ridicule and rejection, but JESUS IS OUR KING! We love Him, because He first loved us (cf. 1 John 4:19). He humbled Himself, so that we someday might be exalted with Him in the presence of our heavenly Father. May we never find ourselves, as some of those people in Jerusalem, cheering Jesus on Palm Sunday and then changing sides and jeering Him on Good Friday. Rather, may we ever recognize that JESUS IS OUR KING! Then let us embrace Jesus’ humble attitude and let us confess His glorious name all the days of our lives, until He comes again in glory when all that we believe will become evident for all to see! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting