On this Palm Sunday, lets us consider why we use two terms in describing the final week in the life of Jesus? And how do the events in the life of Jesus during His final week in Jerusalem, prior to His crucifixion, reveal a reversal of fortune?
~ View copy of sermon – (Luke 19: 28 – 44, Philippians 2: 1 – 11)
Sermon Title: A REVERSAL OF FORTUNE / Luke 19: 28 – 44, Philippians 2: 1 – 11
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Luke 19: 28 – 44, Philippians 2: 1 – 11
Preached by Rev. Dr. Harold E. Kidd
A REVERSAL OF FORTUNE
“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:8
On this Palm Sunday, I want to preach from the theme of A REVERSAL OF FORTUNE. When we read Luke 19 in its entirety it is actually a chronology of events in the life of Jesus during His final week in Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion. Being the historian that he was, Luke’s is the most detailed of all the Gospels.
By this time Jesus was extremely well known. Everyone coming to Jerusalem for the Passover feast had heard about the Lord, and for a season, the mood was popular towards Him. When Jesus sent His disciples to the little village of Bethany to obtain the colt which had never been ridden, commanded them to untie it and bring it to Him, He said to them, “If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord has need of it!” And the colts owners gladly turned their animal over to them.
Luke informs us the people lined the roads, hoping to gain a glimpse of Jesus, praising God, waving palms branches and throwing their outer garments in front of the colt as it passed before them carrying the Lord. With shouts of loud Hosannas, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” Which actually means long live the king. In fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 which reads, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Jesus did this to announce that He was indeed the long-awaited Messiah, greater than David or Solomon.
Because it was Passover week, Jerusalem was teeming with multitudes when people from all over Israel had gathered in Jerusalem, and so Jesus had chosen the perfect time, place and setting to proclaim in a dramatic way that he was indeed the Messiah. And the people went wild, because they were sure their liberation from Roman oppression was now at hand. But the people who were praising God for giving them a king had the wrong understanding of Jesus’ mission. He had amassed many fans, but as the week progresses very few would prove themselves to be his sincere followers.
Because when it became apparent to many in this crowd that Jesus was not going to fulfill their hopes, many of them turned against him. They had expected Jesus to be a national leader who would restore their nation to its former glory, thus they were deaf to the words of the prophets like Isaiah had prophesied hundreds of years earlier that the Messiah would be ‘wounded for our transgressions’, and blind to Jesus’ real mission. That He came to die for our sins. It was a reversal of fortune.
That is why we use two terms in describing the final week in the life of Jesus. It begins with Psalm Sunday but quickly deteriorates into a week of Passion. Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem to a cheering crowd soon gives way to a tragic trial and a jeering mob. The blessings of a sacred last supper end with a series of tragic prophecies by Jesus to His disciples who sit a table with him. A night of solitary prayer in the Garden is overcome by a violent crowd, ending in a betrayal and His arrest. A reversal of fortune. And as Holy Week progressed many of the very same voices that shouted “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”; would soon shout , “Crucify Him!”
But to truly understand this reversal of fortune we have to hear what Paul has to say about Jesus, in Philippians 2: 1 – 11. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death even the death of the Cross”
Which is actually a hymn of praise, sung by the First Century Church, giving glory to God for His Son Jesus, and giving praise to Jesus for his willingness to set aside His heavenly garments to come save us. Jesus gave up a whole lot in our behalf. For Him it was a reversal of fortune. Think about it for a minute. Who though He were the Pre-Existent God, without beginning, Eternal, Co-creating with the Father and the Holy Spirit before the dawn of creation.
He made Himself of no reputation, writes Paul, took upon Himself a human vessel of flesh and blood and became as a bondservant, that He might do His father’s will. It was a reversal of fortune. In this reversal Jesus willingly gave up His divine attributes of being Omnipresent, eternal, and the glory that He shared with His Father and the Holy Spirit before the world ever was.
When Paul declares that Jesus took the form of a servant, a slave, the word he uses for form is morph, meaning Jesus truly became human. He was not like the Greek gods, who sometimes became men but kept their divine privileges. He emptied himself of His deity to take upon himself our humanity. He did not clutch at His divinity and to refuse to let go of it, but He willingly laid it down, for the sake of becoming like us in order that He might redeem us. Wow!
And in the form of God’s servant, He then emptied Himself in service to humanity. The Greek word for empty is ‘kenosis’, which literally means pouring something out until there is nothing left. He gave God and us His all and all. Jesus out of His free will and love for His Father divested Himself of all personal rights, privileges, and glory as the Son of God. A Reversal of Fortune. He emptied Himself of the will of self-preservation and gave Himself to die for our sins on the cross so that we would not have to face eternal death in the fires of a burning hell.
“He came unto His own and His own received Him Not.” What the Apostle John is declaring in Chapter 1: 11 of his Gospel is that while He was in His celestial Glory and worshipped by all of heaven, worshipped by Angels, and Archangels, Cherubim, Seraphim, worshipped by all of the creation that He had made, when Jesus became human, many of His own people would not worship Him. It is perplexing that humans will idolize men and women of the earth, hold mass gatherings in stadiums and concerts halls to see them perform. Hold huge processions in city streets, invite all the dignitaries to their funerals and candle light vigils, in memory of their lives, yet when it comes to worshipping Jesus for all He has done, our churches are half empty. We idolize human beings while holding back our rightful duty to give God all the glory. It is a reversal of fortune.
A reversal of fortune is a term used to describe what one once had, that they have now lost. Their fortune may be seen in the form of their wealth, or their family, or health, or career, or status in society to name a few. In most cases a reversal of fortune comes through circumstances beyond one’s control. Job lost his family, his wealth and his health. But in Jesus’ case His reversal of fortune was done of His own free will in order that in His temporary loss, we might gain.
Even the events of Passion Week were allowed to happen by God through Jesus giving Himself over to these events. Amen. Jesus at any time had the power to stop what was happening to Him. When the soldiers came to arrest Him and Peter took his sword and cut off the ear of a soldier trying to protect Jesus, Jesus said, “Don’t you think that I cannot pray to my Father, and He will not provide Me with twelve legions of Angels?” But Jesus willingly allowed for His reversal of fortune while He was in the earth in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.
They cheered Jesus on Palm Sunday, as He rode into Jerusalem for the last time, singing, “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” Yet only a few days later this very same crowd would cry out, “Crucify him!” In just the course of a few days and within 48 hours Jesus is betrayed by one of His own disciples Judas Iscariot, for 30 pieces of silver. A Reversal of Fortune.
God laid upon Jesus the inequity of us all in order that we might receive His righteousness. A reversal of fortune. By His stripes… we are healed. A reversal of fortune. His shame upon the Cross has become our Glory of being reconciled to God. A reversal of Fortune. In His death we have been given eternal life. A reversal of fortune. He was despised and rejected of men in order that we might be welcomed as the sons and daughters of God. A reversal of fortune. His agony in being crucified has become the joy of our living for Him. A reversal of fortune.
Even at the expense of death and the cross, Jesus chose to serve God by offering Himself as a ransom of us. And because Jesus was willing to humble Himself, and take upon Himself the role of a bondservant, because He was willing to become obedient unto death, even death on a cross, God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name above every other name.
And the proof of God’s love is that He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all–how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things.” When we go through our trials and our tribulations, when we have our deep water experiences, the proof of God’s nearness, the proof of God’s faithfulness, the proof that God will never leave us nor forsake us, the proof that God is working it out for our good, is not necessarily in the circumstances that we go through, but is in the fact that He gave up His Son for our redemption.
A reversal of fortune. God gave up in only begotten Son, in order that we might receive the riches of His Love, Fellowship and Kingdom! Amen. God gave Him up to death upon a tree. Gave Him up for our eternal salvation. Gave Him up to be rejected and humiliated. Gave Him up, that there should never be any doubt in our minds, nor in our hearts concerning God’s love for us.
If God would allow Jesus to go through all of this… for us….If God would subject His Son to all of this… for us…. “How will He not also”, declares Paul, “along with Him graciously give us all things?” And the all things Paul is referring to is: all things related to our salvation, all things related to our eternal security, all things stored up for us in heaven as an inheritance that fade not away. All things related to our care and need. “Just for Me, Just for Me, Just for me, Just for me, They pierced Him in the side, He hung His head and Died he did all that, Just for me.”