Summary: A sermon for Palm Sunday.
“Humility That Causes the Devil to Tremble”
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer, Pastor of
Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
Everywhere Jesus went He caused turmoil.
Jesus was an exciting guy.
He had the spunk to stand up to the self-righteous Pharisees.
He made little people feel just as important as the powerful and wealthy.
He spoke with such authority that even the Roman soldiers seemed to listen to Him.
He befriended everybody, from the highest on the social scale to the prostitutes, tax collectors, the blind, the beggars.
Jesus healed the sick.
He gave sight to the blind, and He even made dead people come back to life!
And these things caused turmoil…
…because there is a dualism in this universe…
…a battle between good and evil…
…it’s kind of like oil and water…
…they don’t get along very well.
So it should come as no surprise that as we see Jesus Christ riding into Jerusalem “mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey…” and “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road…”
… and as “The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”….
That we find in verse 10 of Matthew 21 that “the whole city was stirred.” …
…or as the New Revised Standard Version reads: “The whole city was in turmoil…”
There were the blessings from the crowds, or the common folk, but turmoil from the powerful and elite.
There was a dualism.
Jesus’ popularity scared those in authority.
He intimidated them.
And in His humility, He intimidated the Devil!
Remember when, after Jesus was baptized by John, that He was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the Devil?
Remember how frustrated the Devil became?
Remember how the Devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and tempted Him by saying: “All this I will give you, if you bow down and worship me…?”
But Jesus said: “Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Luke’s Gospel tells us: “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until a more opportune time.”
And a more opportune time came when Jesus entered Jerusalem with the crowds cheering and hailing Him as King!!!
The temptation was to be Who the people wanted Him to be and not Who He really was.
How many of us are tempted in this way?
In school, perhaps, our peers wanted us to give in to the temptation to ‘fit in’ with the rest of the crowd…
…to smoke, drink, do drugs…
…or maybe to put down the less popular people…
…or to join in the racist comments that make others feel so low.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I remember in high school, hanging out with some friends…
…doing some things that I was being pressured into doing…
…and a song was playing on the stereo…
…it was a song by the band Pink Floyd.
The lyrics were “This is not who I am, I have become comfortably numb.”
How many of us have become comfortably numb?
How many of us have given in to the temptation to be who the people want us to be and not who we really are?
That day in Jerusalem, Jesus was being tempted by the Devil to give in to the crowds; to be worshiped and lifted up as a great charismatic leader; to fulfill their political agenda…to free the people from the Romans…not their sins…but to start a war!
Jesus was being tempted to exploit His equality with God.
It was at this very point in His ministry and His life…
…that Jesus had to empty Himself and become their servant, not their king.
He had to humble Himself completely, and walk through the next six days not only as One of them, but as One Who would be completely humiliated, condemned, and executed as a criminal.
Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, would be handled like a piece of human garbage…and He would allow it to happen…for us…for you and for me!!!
Could you do that? Could I do that?
In our Epistle Lesson from Philippians Paul tells us: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
Think about it: Paul assumes that it is entirely possible for us to have the same mind that was in Christ.
Is this really possible?
I believe that it is.
Now it is hard. It is not the easy way.