By Verse : Phil 2:6-11; John 13:2-6 Topic :


Have you ever noticed that to be humble is very difficult? Yet the Apostle Paul says to the Ephesians, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
In our world today, it’s often “me first.” We don’t often see people opening doors for one another or giving up a parking space close to the store for others who might struggle with walking long distances or letting someone cut in when there is a merging section in traffic near those dreaded slowdowns and two lanes become one. We aren’t always humble. We aren’t always kind. There are all kinds of Christians. There are all kinds of people proclaiming to be Christian, but they may talk the talk but not walk the walk.
The choir just sang “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow. At the name of Jesus, every tongue confess that the name of Jesus is high above all names.” In other words, sometime when this world comes to an end, when the curtain falls on this world, and the curtain opens in heaven, every knee, every voice, will bow before the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. It will not matter if you believe or not believe. Scripture declares, and I believe it, that EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, EVERY VOICE will proclaim Jesus as King. Kings, queens, presidents, world leaders, dictators, generals, admirals, high officials, popes, bishops, priests, all high folks from every country around the world will get on their knees before Jesus, as well as the common folks and all others. There is no doubt about it. Every person will humble themselves before our Lord and Savior and His Father, our Father in heaven. We will bow, we will lower our heads in adoration. Not one person will stand. Not one voice will be silent. Even the lost will admit Jesus is Lord along with all believers who will praise his holy name.
Being humble isn’t easy.
Tim McGraw has a song I like called “Being Humble and Kind.” If our world was like that, imagine the peace we would all enjoy. But the world isn’t like that. And it wasn’t like that in Jesus’ day either. Think of it, those religious leaders, those who studied the Scriptures, had no use for Jesus. They were out to get him at all cost. They tried to explain his healing power as coming from Satan. His preaching was great for those who believed, but to the religious leaders it was challenging. They were the teachers of the Law having been to the best Rabbinical schools to learn. Jesus had no such education. He was just a carpenter’s son, so they said. While they paraded around in their gowns, standing on street corners lifting a prayer to God so all could see, Jesus humbly went off to be by himself to pray. He even told his disciples, go find a place to pray. Don’t be like those religious hypocrites who use fancy words while praying. Pray just like a child talking with his father, or like a friend to a friend. These hypocrites praying so others could see and hear them, would rather have the attention of men then God.
It’s hard to be humble.
We see that today in sports. We see it in all phases of lives. People who seem to seek the spotlight, rather than humbling themselves doing something behind the scenes not looking for the glory. Lots of places, dorms, colleges and buildings have someone’s name because they gave a bunch of money. Yet, there are those who gave big sums without wanting the attention called to them. I’d rather have on my tombstone words that proclaim, “Richard Francis Piscatelli, servant of Jesus Christ.” Saved by the grace of God. Humbly serving God’s people.”
McGraw’s song said open a door for someone, say thank you, or yes sir or yes mam. Smile at someone who might cut you off, say a little prayer for them. Be humble, be kind.
Paul has a few words for us about Lent as we draw closer to the cross. He says in Philippians 2:6-11 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, HE HUMBLED HIMSELF and became obedient to death, even death on the cross! THEREFORE, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In other words, even Jesus, even the Lord of lords and King of Kings, God’s only begotten Son bowed before his own Father and Creator in such a way that he submitted himself to his authority and wishes and came to the earth as a baby, not as a king. Came to be born to a teenager engaged, not married. He was born in a manger among animals, not in a palace surrounded by servants. He grew up as a common person, not as someone who was above all. He worked with his hands, cut them making tables and chairs. Dare I say he had many a splinter in those hands that one day would be stretched out and nails driven through them. They were calloused, hard from working with chisels, hammers and nails. He worked in the dust of the carpenter’s shop and took care of the needs of those who came to that shop. Then, when the time was right, he left his mother, his work, called some men to follow, and came out to humble himself to be baptized by his cousin John.
When John saw him coming toward him in the water, all he could think was that this was wrong. Jesus should baptize him. But Jesus said, no, that he must be baptized by John in order to identify with humanity. Jesus humbled himself, as John baptized him, and a voice comes to say, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.”
It’s hard to be humble.
Think about that time in the Upper Room when Jesus gathered with his disciples one last time. This followed Palm Sunday when Jesus humbly came into Jerusalem on a donkey. He didn’t come on a white horse of a general coming from a victory over his enemies. He didn’t come in the lead chariot with a crown on his head. No! He came humbly, on the back of a donkey, a beast of burdens, as his disciples walked with him, and the crowds threw clothing in front of him and sang their praises. Humbly he came to the place that would end his life, not in battle, but on a cruel cross. He humbly surrendered to the will of the people. He humbly surrendered to the directions of Pilate. But most importantly, he humbled himself to his Father in heaven as he went to the cross.
It isn’t easy to be humble.
Remember when some wanted to take Jesus and make him king because of the things he was doing? “No, no, no” he called out, and he got away as quick as possible. He didn’t come to be lifted up and praised because of the things he did to help people and be honored like a king. No! he came to be lifted up like Moses lifted the snake on a pole while their ancestors looked up in order to be saved from those poisonous snakes. Jesus humbly would be lifted high, above all people, on a cross that was meant to be a cruel tool of punishment. He changed that. For it became the tool of salvation. He was lifted high for all to see. People coming in or going out of Jerusalem couldn’t miss it. There, high on the hill of Calvary stood three crosses. When travelers asked about those three crosses they were told that two thieves hung there. When asked about the third, all they heard was, this was Jesus of Nazareth who claimed to be God’s son so the Jews, with the help of the Roman government, were putting him to death.
It’s hard to be humble.
Remember in that Upper Room while the disciples were eating John writes later, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so, he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
The disciples seemed to be in shock when Jesus did this. They may have been joking around during this meal. Maybe they were discussing the next few days what they would be doing, where Jesus might be leading them. Maybe they spoke how they snuck into the Upper Room coming from various parts of the city so that the Roman Soldiers, nor the Sanhedrin, or other religious leaders who wanted to get a hold of Jesus, would be able to locate Jesus. They sat and enjoyed the meal, sharing the days happenings. And when they saw Jesus get up, put that towel around himself, get a basin of water, shock waves filled the room. “What is he doing?” they may have asked each other. Watching his every move, they see Jesus bow before each disciple, take off one sandal and begin to wash that foot, and then the other. Jesus worked his way around the table to the shock of his disciples. When he got to Peter, Peter was so taken back that all he could say was, “No! You shall never wash my feet!” and Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” A nervous Peter then said, “But Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well.”
Yes, it’s hard to be humble.
During that foot washing ceremony, the point of the whole thing wasn’t to make the disciples spiritually clean. It was to show them what God wanted them to do after Jesus was gone from this earth. They weren’t to be lifted up as followers of Jesus, so they could brag that they were special because they had been handpicked by Jesus and walked with him for three years giving up their careers, their homes, their families. NO! the point of all this was that they needed to humble themselves as Jesus had done. They needed to bow before others in such a way that they could help them. They needed to be able to put others first. They, like Jesus did, had to be servants not only to their own crowds, but to all people. They had to learn to be Christ to everyone. They had to learn humility. They had to learn how to be humble. And our man Peter, the head man, the bold man, the man who opened his mouth at the wrong time, one day found true humility for when they finally got around to arrest him and were going to put him on the cross like his Master, he, with humility, said to put him on the cross upside down. He didn’t deserve to die like his Master and Lord.
Yes, it’s hard to be humble.
One Maundy Thursday while I was in seminary one of the students that attended seminary and the same church Carole, and I did in Nicholasville Kentucky was in charge of Maundy Thursday Service. When Carole and I walked into the sanctuary there he was, already on his knees, kneeling in front of a chair with a basin of water and a towel washing the foot of someone. That fellow student I had class with…. this fellow student who was learning, like I was, how to minister to God’s people was kneeling waiting for us to take our turn in the seat of honor. I had never been to a foot washing service, and I really wanted to turn around and walk out, and so did Carole. I had those shoes and socks on for a long time. But I did as he beckoned me. I sat down in the chair, and as I think about the moment, I felt like Peter, ‘not just my feet Lord, but all over. Cleanse me Lord. Cleanse me inside, not just outside.’ I watched with humility and with embarrassment as he removed my shoe, then my sock, and gently washed my foot. To say the least, I was humbled. I was touched, as I bet many others who were greeted that night as they entered that church for worship.
I think of the pope who goes to prisons and takes off the shoes of those people who society has put away for various crimes, taking each foot, washing them, and even kissing them, as an act following what Christ had taught the world. Here is the representative of the Roman Catholic church, a person close to God, following in the tradition of Peter, humbling himself before all these people. I think of him kneeling in front of the Cardinals that are there, taking each foot, doing the same thing. These are some who voted for him to be elevated to this position. But now, he kneels to wash, to kiss, to bless these servants of God, not on cheeks, but their feet perhaps telling them to be servants to one another and to the world. Do what Christ has taught them to do.
Yes, it’s hard to be humble.
I remember one Maundy Thursday evening here at this church when I had 4 fellows of different ages sitting with me around this altar. They were a captive audience as I proceeded to tell the story of the Last Supper. But then I did something they weren’t expecting. I got up, took the basin of water I had, plus a towel, went and took one foot, removed the shoe, touched it with a wet clothe, wiped it. I did all four. They were moved by it. Not by me. They were moved by the act of having someone they knew, someone who was a pastor, do what Jesus did to the disciples that night he was betrayed and faced the cross.
One day, my friends, one day, we will all humbly kneel before our Savior and Lord. One day, my friends, when Christ returns, or when he calls us home, we will kneel before our Savior and our Lord, our God, our Creator, and we will praise his Holy Name. For he humbled himself and one day came to this earth to take our place without knowing who we were, what our names were, and not even knowing the sins we would commit, sometimes daily, maybe even hourly, but knowing that we, like the world, are sinners in need of a Savior, and he went to the cross of Calvary, and there took away all our sins, every last one of them, upon himself so that we could be free from their bondage.
It’s true. It’s hard to be humble. But Jesus did it for the world and for you and me.
His charge to us? Be humble and kind to one another and to the world around you. Be like Christ in attitude and in service. Show the world we do care. Show the world that there is hope in believing in Christ for salvation. We didn’t earn it. It was purchased for us. Christ paid the price to ransom our souls. We aren’t special just because we are Christians. We are special because we have been saved by the grace of God.
I know. I know. In a world like we have today it’s hard to be humble. But neither was dying on the cross. Christ didn’t say it would be easy, yet he humbled himself and did it for us.
A hymn we have bears the words the choir sang. The second verse goes, “Humbled for a season, to receive a name from the lips of sinners unto whom he came, faithfully he bore it, spotless to the last, brought it back victorious when from death he passed.”
But there is a chorus that touches us when we sing that goes along with the message the choir brought. “He is Lord. He is Lord! He is risen from the dead and he is Lord. Every knee shall bow, ever tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord!”
Prayerfully, humbly, being touched by his message of salvation and forgiveness, will you please sing that chorus with me? Do it from your heart, with thanksgiving and praise. If you want to raise your hands in praise, so be it. If you want too stand do it. Every knew shall bow. Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! It’s found on page 177.

Happy Birthday Tom Yokley!

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