What WAS Jesus Thinking? *

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This recording is intended for distribution to members and friends of the Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian Church family.  While effort is made to give credit for work done by others, the notes may use material for which appropriate credit is not given.

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Philippians 2:1-11

If any of us had been there on that first Palm Sunday… I have no doubt that more than one of us would have asked, “What in the world is Jesus thinking? Riding right into Jerusalem. Really, Jesus? Really? You, who have been in constant conflict with the religious authorities since your ministry began three years ago… You, who have challenged them, their teachings and authority… You, who have broken the Sabbath law (and those of us who have been reading the Bible for the past 90 days know this was no petty crime to them… it was a capital offense)… You who have hung out at the bars and with prostitutes and tax collectors and sinners – telling them that God forgives them and loves them… inviting them into God’s family… Jesus, what in the world are you thinking?”

Jesus has to know… he just has to know… he is a dead man walking. He is not fooled by the accolades of the crowds… he is not even fooled by the cheers and support of his friends, his followers, his disciples. He knows that the crowds hosannas will turn into cries of “Crucify him”… waving not palms but fists. He knows that those “friends” who pledged their loyalty to him and his cause will deny him and run away like scared animals… Jesus knows, riding on that donkey, that this is the end. The end of him. So what is Jesus thinking?

Is he thinking what many of us would have thought?

“I’m only 33, and God, I’m too young to die. Why? God Why? I could do a lot more if I were to live. I could teach more people, heal more people. I could really build your kingdom movement and gather more disciples.”

Or was he thinking, “Maybe, God will bail me out before the end of the week, he won’t let any harm come to his own son. After all I’ve done for God, surely God will save me.”

Was he thinking, “Why should I go through ALL OF THIS for such an ungrateful group of people? They deserve God’s condemnation, not God’s mercy after what they’ve done to me… after what they’ve done to others.”

Or was he thinking, “This is my fast track of upward mobility to the top… to sitting at the right hand of God. Sacrifice now, reward later. A small price to pay for eternal glory.”

Was Jesus thinking that?

No, not according to this old poem or hymn Paul quotes today in his letter to the members of the Philippi church. Paul, in encouraging them to live well with each other, he says, he wants them to have “the same mind in you that was in Christ Jesus”
The same mind that was in Christ Jesus…
“Who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave… and being found in human form, he humbled himself, and became obedient to the point to death-even death on a cross”

This is what Jesus was thinking… he was thinking not about faith being a path of upward mobility… that obedience was a means to an end for success… or looking our for number one… No, he was thinking about being faithful to God… he was thinking about serving God and loving even to the point of death… He wasn’t thinking about saving his own skin… or what was in it for him…he was thinking about loving us even if it costs him his life – which it did. He was thinking about obedience, service and love… That is what was on his mind.

What is on your mind? Paul says, this is the kind of mind we should be developing … It is the kind of thinking we could use a bit more of in our society and politics if you ask me. I don’t hear people thinking much like this these days. But Paul would urge us to develop minds that focus on obedience, service and love… minds that lead us to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves…

I don’t know for sure, but I think that is what Jesus was thinking about on Palm Sunday and in the hard days to come this week.

Today, in worship, we will remember what that life of the mind looks like that is faithful to God… that life of humility… that pours itself out for others… the life of love. Listen now to the stories of Jesus this week… and listen for the stories of loving obedience to God seen in service to others.

Follow him not only today… but stay with him on the road of loving obedience, that will lead him to the cross. Follow him and you will learn what it means to live a life that pleases God. Amen

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