The Passion of Our Lord
March 28 Palm Sunday Readings: Mark 11:1-11; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Passion Sunday Readings: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 14:1–15:47
The Passion of Our Lord
Our passage from Philippians 2 is thought to be an early hymn of the Christian Church, quoted by Paul. It tells us of how Jesus emptied himself in order to fulfill his task on the cross with the utmost humility. Paul starts by saying “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus”, so we must go back a little to see where this is coming from, as Paul tells us to imitate Christ. The chapter begins with:
Therefore, 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. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus. (Php 2:1–5).
Jesus, though superior to us, became even less than us, wholly obedient to God and willing to suffer the worst humiliation and suffering from lesser men. In doing so, God exalted Him above all others, and Jesus is now worthy of glorification by all of creation, as we kneel before Him and proclaim Him as our Lord and Savior. Those who imitate Him will also be exalted by God.
We as disciples of Jesus are to follow His example, putting our earthly desires aside and taking on God’s. Most of us are not called to be humiliated as Jesus was in His final days, but we are to be humble and put others first. Only by doing so can we as God’s people be of the same mind, spirit, and purpose. As Jesus followed the will of God all the way to the cross and beyond, we work to follow the will of God in all that we do and put the needs of each other before our own. God lifts up the humble and obedient person who is faithful to the end.
I am always reminded at this time of year of Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion”, which graphically shows what Jesus went through in His final days on earth. It came out almost twenty years ago, and seeing it once was enough. The torture Jesus went through is given much more representation in the movie than in the Bible, and leaves you shocked and in tears. I saw the movie in the theater and remember hearing a woman loudly weeping nearby. I left thinking: “He did this for me.”
And so, keeping what Jesus did on mind for us, we ask again: “How am I to respond?” If we are to follow Jesus’ example in our lives, what are we to do now? We don’t want to go as far as He did, do we?
Perhaps you are thinking: “what more can I do? I have already lived as faithfully as I can.” What’s next? Paul continues in Philippians 2:12-18:
Therefore, my loved ones, just as you always obey me, not just when I am present but now even more while I am away, carry out your own salvation with fear and trembling. God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes. Do everything without grumbling and arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, innocent children of God surrounded by people who are crooked and corrupt. Among these people you shine like stars in the world because you hold on to the word of life. This will allow me to say on the day of Christ that I haven’t run for nothing or worked for nothing. But even if I am poured out like a drink offering upon the altar of service for your faith, I am glad. I’m glad with all of you. You should be glad about this in the same way. Be glad with me!
We are most likely not called to suffer like Paul did, either, but each of us walks our own path, we all have suffering and sorrow, and we are stronger when we walk with others. We are to treat each other with love and patience, not in arguing and grumbling, but seeking to be blameless, pure, and innocent, even though we live in a crooked and corrupt society. After walking this path, we too want to say that we didn’t do it for nothing. In Christ’s name, we seek to live with a purpose from God and be fruitful. For Paul, this is the path to joy and gladness, as well as eternal life. May it be so for us, too! We may not have to die like Jesus or suffer like Paul, but we are to live humbly and sacrificially, serving our Lord and serving one another. So what is your next step?