Monday, April 10, 2017

Sermon on Philippians 2:5-11, for Palm Sunday, "The Mindset of Christ"

Sermon outline and talking points:

·         Many passages show Christ as “servant.” Mark 10:42-45—last and servant of all, ransom for many. John 13, washing feet. 2 Cor. 8:9, rich, became poor. Or the humility, lowliness and simplicity vs. His hidden glory and worthiness—birth in manger,  no place to lay His head, donkey entering Jerusalem. But at the cross, humble obedience is clearest.

·         In our everyday world—rank, wealth, power, or birth convey certain advantages or privileges. Owners and CEOs of big businesses don’t do low or menial tasks. Kings and presidents are honored, paraded, and red carpet is rolled out. Don’t usually see people do things that are “beneath them.”

·         Moments of lavish honor paid to Jesus: gifts of Magi, anointing by perfume/oil/tears, Palm Sunday processional, expensive myrrh and spices for burial. Never refused, but never demanded or expected. Accepted humble hospitality, and demanded no high privilege or treatment. Did not consider even death “beneath Him”—but humbly obeyed.

·         Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus  Jesus’ mindset, an attitude—shaping all His actions. Clearest display at the cross. For Christ, then also for us, have this mindset: ”who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

·         We are to imitate—not His divinity, but His mindset: not regarding His equality with God something to be held over others, or that everything was beneath Him. Of course everything was beneath Him, as He was God! But didn’t live like it. Became a servant, a man. Did what was needed without thought or regard to His importance, as real as it was.

·         Whether real or pretended importance—what is our attitude when an act of service is needed? When a Christian response is called for? Maybe little or no honor or recognition attached. Maybe unpleasant or dirty work. What attitude? Beneath us? Protest? Yes, but a chip? Grumbling? What about humble obedience? Joyful and willing service? No thought of honor, recognition or reward? Simple contentment to help, serve, see someone blessed, or the intangible reward of seeing the joy, relief, comfort, etc of the person who needs that help?

·         Mindset of Christ not just about “service” or “volunteerism”, but what He accomplished. “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” He wore the servant’s form, the human form, because it was necessary for Him to die. Could not die as an “unclothed” spirit. Had to enter flesh, become like us in every way, except without sin. The “down and dirty work” that required Jesus’ willing, humble obedience—becoming sin for us, that we might become the righteousness… bear betrayal, false accusation, hatred, scourging, stripping, crown of thorns, mocking, spitting, striking, nailing, thirsting, dying. His mindset of humility, obedience, love, greater than any nails that held Him to the cross—pure determination to bear the full cost of sin that everyone of us could be forgiven. Not our sins only, but the whole world. So we would receive a priceless gift.

·         Worldly mindset—boast, show off, propel yourself or climb to the top, demand your rights, don’t settle for less than your supposed importance or privilege demands. We see how God rewards this attitude: “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Mindset of Christ—total obedience to God without protest, accept what was given, do the greater good for mankind.

·         “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should 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.” God’s highest honor is to raise Jesus to the highest position with a name over all others, to receive the worship of all, and that all would confess His name for salvation, the whole world through, above, and under. This brings glory to God Himself, to have His Son honored, in the same, but lesser way that parents are greatly honored when their children win awards. End trajectory of history—this confession: “Jesus Christ is Lord” will be undeniable. Every person at last will admit it. Salvation for all who believe and confess it by faith! It’s the gift brought by the mindset of Christ—His life given to save ours!

Sermon Talking Points

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  1. In Philippians 2:5 Paul tells them to “have this mind…which is yours in Christ Jesus.” He’s urging them to the mindset of Christ—“think this way”. Paul uses similar words to talk about a Christian mindset or way of thinking in 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 2:2; 3:19 (a contrast); 4:8. Why does the Christian “mindset” or way of thinking seek after harmony? What does it focus on, and what does it avoid?
  2. This “mindset of Christ” is shown by certain specific actions of Jesus. Where is this most clearly shown? Philippians 2:6-8. Why were Jesus’ actions at the cross so unusual and amazing for a person of His authority, identity, and power?
  3. How does this “Gospel deed” of Christ’s humble, obedient death for us, transform our hearts and minds to His mindset? What acts of service might we be called to do? What attitude will shape how we conduct ourselves?
  4. In Philippians 2:6, it says that Jesus was equal with God, but in verse 7, what form did He take? Was death beneath His dignity? Why did He submit to it anyway? 1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 12:2.
  5. Jesus’ humble, suffering death became the way that God raised Him up to the highest honor. He took the lowest place so that we could be raised up (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9). Why does this idea of lowering ourselves, or becoming a servant, go so much against the grain of our human nature? Mark 10:42-45. What do we see as the way to greatness? How does Jesus contradict this?
  6. One day every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. It will be undeniable. This fulfills a prophecy of Isaiah 45:21-25.

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