Summary: Who Is This Jesus? 1)He is the mightiest slave; 2) He is the humblest king Sermon adapted from 2002 sermons by Henry Brinton and Daron Lindemann
Did you hear about the guy who planned on skydiving from space? Yeah, he was going to ride a balloon to an altitude of 40,000 meters (130,000 ft.) and jump from there in a space suit. He estimated that, within a minute from leaving the balloon, he’d reach speeds between 11,000 km and 15,000 km an hour (700 and 900 miles an hour). This guy wanted to the set the record for the highest skydive and break the sound barrier without a vehicle. He figured he could do the jump safely because as he got closer to the ground, the thicker air in the lower atmosphere would reduce his speed enough for him to pull the ripcord on his parachute. Who is this guy? It’s Rodd Millner, an Australian ex-commando. That jump was supposed to happen in 2002 but according to my research, it never did. Pictured (on the screen in church) is a previous jump (August 16th, 1960) at a lower altitude (31,333 m) by Joe Kittinger.
Even if Millner had carried through with his plans, he would not have set the record for the highest skydive. That record belongs to a person who climbed into the skin of humanity and jumped from an altitude where only angels fly. This skydive from heaven not only broke distance records, it shattered the sin barrier that stands between God and us. Who is this guy? It’s Jesus, the mightiest slave and the humblest king – at least that’s what the events of Palm Sunday teach us about him. Let’s find out more.
While Millner planned on coming out of his skydive alive, that’s not what Jesus expected or experienced when he took his plunge to earth. In fact a cross, a real one, marks the spot where Jesus landed. From his intended destination we learn that Jesus is a slave. The Apostle Paul put it his way in our Epistle reading: “Christ Jesus … being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant … and became obedient to death - even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8)! While Millner may have been planning his space dive to make a name for himself, Jesus took the plunge to earth to make a name for us. Through his death on the cross Jesus changed our name from “enemy” of God to “child” of God by paying for our sins.
Now when I say that Jesus is a slave, I don’t mean he was forced into doing what he did. No one can force Jesus into doing anything against his will for he is the mightiest person this world has known. Just look at the superhuman powers Jesus displayed on Palm Sunday. He knew exactly where his disciples could find a donkey for him to ride in his parade. And then he bent the will of the donkey’s owners to conform to his will so that they let the disciples take the animal. These events assure us that Jesus was not fooled nor was he forced into coming to earth. Because he knows all things Jesus was aware that his coming to earth would end in his death. And like a burly-biceped slave journeying alone with his master on forsaken roads could easily escape but chooses not to, Jesus could have pulled the rip cord on his parachute as he was plummeting to earth and abandoned his plans to save us, but he chose not to. Instead of a safe landing for himself, he wanted a saved landing for sinners. So he took all his powers, all his desires, all his energy and focused them into submitting himself to his Father’s will and saving humanity.
Although Jesus came as a slave, it doesn’t mean that we should treat him like one. We do that when we turn to him in prayer only when everything else we’ve tried has failed. And even then we tend to demand things like money and good health, rather than for increased faith or more opportunities to share God’s Word with others. We dare not treat Jesus like a slave because he is also a king.
We know that Jesus is a king from the events of Palm Sunday. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem the people placed their cloaks on the ground for the donkey to walk on as they shouted: “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matt. 21:9a)! Jesus is indeed a king, but he is nothing like the other kings of this world. The Old Testament lesson for today made that clear when it prophesied of Jesus: “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9b). Do you see the humility of Jesus in those words? Not just in the obvious part about riding on a donkey instead of a stallion, but that other part: “Your King comes to you.” We need a King who comes to us because we can’t go to him. Because we’ve sinned we can’t expect to walk through the doors of heaven without being stopped. But Jesus is humble enough to come out to us. He rode out of heaven to establish his kingdom, not by shedding the blood of his enemies (us), but by shedding his own blood (G. J. Albrecht). So while we can’t fool an all-knowing God on Judgment Day with some cover up story regarding our sins, we don’t need to because our humble king, Jesus, has covered them with his blood.