Summary: Jesus became a Servant so that we might be transformed into His likeness. A SERMON FOR PALM SUNDAY.
Here`s a story you may have heard before! It`s about a young girl in rags, slaving away to keep thehouse clean for her step-mother and her two daughters. She cleans the grates, scrubs the floors, cleans the windows, makes up the fires, and never a word of thanks from anyone.
One day the postman calls with an invitation to "a Ball at the Palace where the Prince will be present". The sisters, both unmarried, are over the moon - maybe they`ll get to dance with the Prince. "The opportunity of a lifetime" their mother says, ignoring the fact that the girls are as ugly as sin. So on with the Party Dresses and off to the Ball they go, leaving the young skivvy sitting alone in the house, weeping. No place at the Ball for her - she hasn`t a thing to wear!
But, as in all good fairy stories a glorious creature appears with a wonderful message, and the power to make it happen. "You SHALL go to the Ball" she says........ "Like this?" the girl replies, fingering her torn and dirty clothing "NO! LIKE THIS" says the Fairy Godmother (or the "Fairy Go-Getter" as the Spellchecker on my Computer puts it!). She waves her wand, and there is a wonderful TRANSFORMATION - the girl is changed from a gauche young thing into a ravishing beauty, made ready to marry her Prince.
ALL PURE HOKUM, OF COURSE, BUT THE KIDS ALL LOVE CINDERELLA.
But, behind the hokum, there are some lessons for Christians to learn. The first is about Jesus: When the Disciples first met Jesus they were utterly bewildered. In many ways He seemed to be just like THEM. He ate and slept as they did, washed and shaved or grew a beard, just like they did. Yes, He did all the natural things of life - even went to the toilet!
But, behind His ordinary, natural exterior, they sensed that there was something deeper - something totally different about him. Like Cinderella, the outside was ordinary, everyday, completely human. His job as a Carpenter had been as dusty and as grimy as hers - and He was a Servant, as she was............ but underneath there was something REGAL. So they followed Him, lived with Him, listened to Him, and wrestled with deep questions about who He really was..... and then, one day, when He took three of them up to the top of a Mountain, the TRANSFORMATION SCENE TOOK PLACE, and they began to grasp the
reality. This ordinary Human Being was the Prince of Life - the King`s only Son - the beloved One.
When they saw this truth they fell on their knees with terror, because the VISION OF GOD is aweful as well as glorious. And when the light of that Glory falls upon us, and shows us the truth about ourselves, it can be devastating. Yes, judgement can be awful (to use a different spelling) - it can make a man afraid.
But it can be a PROMISE too. It can say to us, "There is no need to stay ordinary, humdrum for the rest of your life. You can be like THIS" - and as the light shines out of Jesus and we see it, we can also see ourselves as God intended us to be.
From that point on, of course, we will never be the same. There may be times when we struggle with the glory of this vision.. There will be times when we will despair of ever becoming its reality. But the responsibility for the transformation does not lie in our hands. It lies in the hand of God, who doesn`t wave a magic wand so that we are changed overnight.............. No, the picture is much more like a potter, who takes us and reshapes us, until we become that vessel of honour that brings Him glory, to thoroughly mix up all the metaphores you`ll find in this Sermon!
That`s what happened to those Disciples. They saw the vision of Jesus, and suddenly saw what it meant for THEM, how transforming it would be, and that THEY would be like Jesus one day........ and the excitement of that vision filled them with wonder and joy.
It took them some time to understand it, of course. On the first Palm Sunday, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem with Hosannas ringing and the crowd hailing Him as King, they thought that this was their moment, the moment of glory, the moment for the world to be TRANSFORMED. They were totally unprepared for what happened next.......... Midnight tolled - Cinderella lost her slipper - and Jesus was crucified as a common criminal.
Why had it all gone wrong?
It had all gone wrong because they hadn`t looked hard enough at who Jesus really was - WHAT He really was. He was no human King forcing people to submit to Him by the power of His personality .In fact, on the night before He died, this King knelt and washed their feet in an act of terrifying humility and love - and then He said to them, "If you want to belong to me THIS is what YOU must do"...