Palm Sunday 2013 (March 24, 2013)
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
TITLE: â€œThe Mind of Godâ€
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Our text for today is the Epistle just read from Philippians chapter two, as well as the Gospel from St Luke chapter 23.
â€œHave this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.â€ So Paul begins this beautiful section of this Epistle. God is His mercy through St. Paul calls us to have the mind of Christ. But what does that really mean?
What St. Paul is talking about is really asking the question first of why God created us, and secondly, of what we are to make of our lives here on earth as His children. As we enter into Holy Week and suffer our Lordâ€™s death with Him, that is a question really worth asking. What is the point of all these readings and celebrations of our Lordâ€™s death and resurrection? Here is what Martin Luther had to say about it in the Large Catechism:
Why did God create us? “For He has created us for this very object, that He might redeem and sanctify us; and in addition to giving and imparting to us everything in heaven and upon earth, He has given to us even His Son and the Holy Spirit, by whom to bring us to Himself.” – Large Catechism (Martin Luther)
Letâ€™s put it this way. God didnâ€™t create us in order to DO something. He created us first in order to BE something. Now donâ€™t get me wrong. We have all kinds of things to do here on earth. But our lives are far more significant than a do-to list for you to check off at the end of each day. We are so easily caught up in this mindset. Productivity and efficiency are very popular words, even in churches.
But that is not why God created you. Hear again those words from St. Paul, â€œHave this mind among yourself, which is yours in Christ Jesusâ€¦â€ Did you catch that? The mind of Christ is yours already. It is what God gave to you in Holy Baptism, when He gave you His Son and the Holy Spirit. What this means is that you ARE Godâ€™s child, first and foremost. It is that which shapes what you do in service to your neighbor.
Think of it like this. You donâ€™t start a family and have children so that they will do things for you. If the reason we have children is in order to have cheap servants, well, then it isnâ€™t a very good investment. No, we donâ€™t get married and start families because want want to get something from it. Not finally, at least. The reason we are families is because that is who we are. We have children because, well, because we love them and we want to care for them and give to them as God has given to us.
So our text here from Philippians gives us an important insight into the nature of God. Jesus did not think equality with God is a thing to be grasped. Striving and working toward becoming a better person, even reaching up to godâ€™s divine nature, thatâ€™s not the point. The Christian faith isnâ€™t a self-improvement program or a better community service plan. No, God has way, way bigger plans than a little self-help. Rather, our text says, Jesus made himself nothing. Literally it is that he emptied himself and took on the form of a servant or slave. And He was born in the likeness of men.
So when Jesus took on our human form, He because a servant. Even more, He became your servant. And He became obedient, to the point of death itself. The very essence of the Gospel, the very throbbing heart of the Christian faith, is that God serves you, loves you and cares for you above all else.
So because of Godâ€™s great love and care for you, He sent His Son, Jesus, who took on this form of a servant and became obedient to the point of death on a cross. When we hear the story of our Lordâ€™s suffering and death, this simple, beautiful reality must always be the motif, the theme that runs through every verse and every hearing of our Lordâ€™s Passion. For you. For you. Always and evermore for you.
Hear Lutherâ€™s words again on this:
In the heart of God you will find a divine, good, fatherly heart. As Christ says, you will be drawn to the Father through Christ. Then you will understand what Christ meant when He said, â€œGod so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Sonâ€ (John 3:16). This is how we know God as He wants us to know Him. We donÊ¼t know Him by His power and wisdom, which terrify us, but by His goodness and love. There our faith and confidence stand unmovable. This is how a person is truly born again in God. (From Lutherâ€™s â€œHow to Meditate on the Passion of Christâ€)
This Holy Week we will hear anew Godâ€™s great love toward wayward sinners like you and me. We will hear howâ€™s Godâ€™s love and service to you goes even unto death. So come now and receive the Testament of His love in His Sonâ€™s body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins. Come and find refuge in Him, for He has given His Name and His very life for you, so that you might dwell with Him forever.
Believe it for Jesusâ€™ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.