Humbled. Exalted. – Week of April 11, 2022
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a 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 should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It’s Holy Week. A week that has been part of the church year for centuries. Holy means, “set apart.” The days of Holy Week are intended to be set apart from other days of the year. They fit together and yet each day has a focus that leads us through Jesus’ final days before the cross and the empty tomb of Easter.
The week begins with Palm Sunday. On that day, we remember when Christ, completely aware of what was before him, headed into Jerusalem. He could have decided to avoid Jerusalem that week. He also could have entered quietly. Not our Jesus. He came in a manner that was not easily missed. To those who attended his entry, they likely had no idea what they were witnessing. Here was the Son of God who created all things and who came for their salvation riding on a lowly donkey. At the same time, the people had heard about this Jesus. They honored him with a carpet of coats and palm branches, a sign of honor. They shouted words of praise for him.
Today’s text from Philippians reminds us who this Jesus is. He is the Son of God, the Creator of all things. Jesus willingly put all his power, his majesty, his glory in heaven aside to take on human nature. He was a true human. He experienced all that any other human being experiences—cold, hunger, fatigue, temptation. At the same time, he was still fully God with all the power, all the strength, all the glory that was his. This is one of those things that is impossible to understand. How can he be fully human and fully God at the same time? I don’t know. Our human reason can’t understand this. We can only accept it by faith.
Why would the Creator of all things, humble himself even to the point of death on a cross, the humiliating death by crucifixion? At any moment he could have stopped those who planned and carried out his crucifixion, but he didn’t. Why? You. Me. He put his glory aside so that he could fulfill God’s promise of salvation for all of us.
Is that the end of the story? By no means. Jesus conquered Satan and took all our sins on himself. He won the victory that we could never win. Today he sits at God the Father’s right hand where God has exalted him. Today’s text emphasizes that God gave Jesus the name that will cause people to bow in honor of him. It’s the only name that saves. He is our Savior, our King.
As you go through Holy Week, set apart time each day to focus on the events of this week and all that Jesus did for you, for me, for all. Spend time reading the account and pondering all that Jesus has done in humility and love. Spend time in prayer with the One whose grace is yours.
All glory, laud, and honor to you, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.
As you received their praises, accept the prayers we bring,
O Source of every blessing, our good and gracious King. Amen
CW 21 412:5
Holy Week Readings: The account of the events of Holy Week can be found at Luke 19-24 or John 12-20. Choose one (or both) to read through on your own during this Holy Week.