April 14, 2019
LUKE 12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. 17 So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. 18 It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19 The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”
If Jesus had left his entrance into Jerusalem to the public relations firm Peter preferred, the entrance in the Holy City would have been splashier and turned out differently. I learned a long time ago that ability to function as I in midst general demand for We is the great challenge of human life in general and leadership in particular.
His disciples loved Jesus, of course, but in an egocentric way that promoted conflict over who “they” would be in the new administration. “Let Jesus be the head, but we will be right there. I want to be Secretary of State in the coming Kingdom.”
Jesus took control of his destiny, entering his own way, no on a war horse or chariot of Roman triumphs. Taking his cue from the prophet Zachariah, he mounted the sharp backbone of a donkey’s colt, entering in great humility, not the feigned modesty of the perceptive politician.
Why? First let’s look at the Epistle for today.
PHILIPPIANS 2:5-8 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
Note that glory was not something essential Jesus’ identity as God, nor did he consider his divine status necessary, he emptied himself of divine prerogative, but emptied, humbled himself. Why? I think Theodoret, a Fifth Century Father, was clearly on the money when he wrote,
Being God, and God by nature, and having equality with God, he thought this no great thing, as is the way of those who have received some honor beyond their merits, but, hiding his merit, he elected the utmost humility and took the shape of a human being. Epistle to the Philippians 2.6-7
– Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus 393 – 457 AD
Jesus didn’t need to prove anything to anybody, nor claimed more than he merited. He took a lower place as a servant. Being God he never felt he had anything to prove to anybody. That sense of self defeated the evil tempter in the wilderness. In addition this hymn reveals that servanthood, humility and emptying of self (I would say “contraction” from the theme of our reflection) are legitimate and full expressions of God’s being.
Beloved, my prayer is that I grow such that I am no longer effected by the change of circumstances. My identity is in God so I need not protect my ego. I can see there, but I am not yet there. I long for that place and my longing is a gift from God. Let us elect the utmost humility, giving up the rule of our ego. I know it is a better place, but my ego is frightened. That of course doesn’t feel good but it is good.
Ego pain is birth pain.
In hope, in spite of the facts.