Get A Palm Sunday Attitude

Pastor Jerome McWaters

Worship Theme: Get A Palm Sunday Attitude

First Lesson: Isaiah 42:1-4 (NIV)
Second Lesson: Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)
Gospel : Luke 19:28-40 (NIV)

Music:

  • CW 413Hosanna, Loud Hosanna
  • Men’s Chorus: Ride On, King Jesus
  • Behold the Lamb
  • CW 412: All Glory, Laud, and Honor
  • CW 411: Ride On, Ride On in Majesty
  • CW 512: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

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Message: Get A Palm Sunday Attitude

Pastor Jerome McWaters

A case can be made for the statement that attitude makes all the difference in the world. We sometimes describe people as having a bad attitude. [Young people, we talked about that a bit earlier didn’t we?] What we mean by a “bad attitude” is that the person has a demeanor or mood that turns people off, turns them away, or makes them feel small, inadequate or unwanted. The boss says, “I don’t know what you’re upset about. You’re making a decent salary.” “That may be true, but you treat me like a dog.” Or, A friend says, “Where were you? I came over to give you a ride, and you were gone.” “Well, it sounded like that was the last thing you wanted to do so I took the bus.” Or, Mom says, “I told you to clean your room before you watch TV.” The teen snaps back, “I said I’d do it. Just leave me alone!” You get the picture, right? Attitude makes a big difference.

So, what’s your overall attitude, your outlook on life – positive? negative? cautious? cavalier? optimistic? pessimistic? There certainly are a lot of negative/cautious/pessimistic people these days. Want me to let you in on a little secret? If you ever get too positive and optimistic about life in a sinful and fallen world you’re in for a letdown. But I’m not talking so much about your attitude about worldly life, but spiritual life. In the portion of Scripture we are about to study, the apostle Paul talks about attitude. He writes: (5) ”Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”.

Today marks the beginning of the most solemn and sacred week of the Church Year. As we follow Jesus to the cross, we want to concentrate on His attitude in order to capture and reap the full benefit of the mystery, majesty, and mercy that unfold before our eyes. When we focus on our Savior, we will not only find ourselves breathless with gratitude, but we will also learn how to GET a new attitude, A PALM SUNDAY ATTITUDE ourselves, which is exactly what God encourages.

1. Walk in Jesus’ humility. In just a few phrases Paul reveals Jesus’ attitude, not just on Palm Sunday but throughout His entire time on earth. (7, 8) “(He) 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 a cross!” How many times in your life time do you think you have said, in one way or another, that “Jesus is God”? If you worship every Sunday for thirty years, just by speaking the creeds, you will have said it more than 1,500 times. We believe it. We know it’s a fact. We count on it. But some have found it hard to apprehend. They think of Jesus as merely a human being – born in Bethlehem, growing up in Nazareth, dying on a cross. But Jesus is God – always has been, always will be. Yet, He withheld His divine justice and judgment for a time in order to put His divine power on the shelf as it were for a time. He humbled Himself and became one of us, subject to all the emotions, all the temptations we face, even death itself.

Would a general of a great army take the stars of his rank off his shoulder and the medals and ribbons off his chest in order to put on the fatigues of a foot soldier, and fight and die in the trenches? Yet, Jesus did that and much more for us. He had every reason to give up on the human race, but instead faced death on a cross. Through it all His attitude never changed. He remained humble, obedient, loving, even forgiving. Jesus’ enemies couldn’t deter Him. His friends couldn’t dissuade Him. Even the devil couldn’t derail Him. He stuck to His guns and humbled Himself for us.

That kind of attitude is hard to come by since it’s natural for us to push ourselves upward in our own mind and in the eyes of others. When we seek honor for ourselves above honoring others, we need a new attitude. When pride gets in the way so that we can’t see past our own nose to help others but get caught up helping ourselves to whatever will make us happy, we need a new attitude. When we cover our own insecurities by putting others down, we need a new attitude. When we seek honor rather than stoop down and lift up someone else, we need a new attitude. When it’s all about me or you and not about anyone else we need the attitude of Christ Jesus our Lord!

But how are we going to get that? Our Palm Sunday King goes to work to change us from the inside out. He doesn’t do that by giving us an example, “Just watch Me on Palm Sunday. You’ll eventually catch on.” No! Here’s what He does. He points the donkey He is riding in the direction of a hill on the other side of town at the other end of this week. There He removed the penalty we were supposed to pay for our egotistical selfishness and sin by paying the penalty Himself. (8) “He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” He did that so we can stand before God and everyone we meet with a new attitude, humbly grateful that we are precious and special to God Himself. And that’s what empowers us to be a precious and special blessing to others.

This Palm Sunday we think about the humility of the Son of God who could have flown into Jerusalem on a comet but rode into town on a smelly beast of burden, and we witness His humble attitude. The key is to focus on why He made Himself low – to raise us up. How about that? Jesus went low to raise us up so we can be low to raise others up. That is letting others go ahead of us, not always wanting to be first or go first. It takes a powerful reason for you and I to consider others more important than ourselves, right? Well, Jesus is that reason! That’s why we serve in our various stations at home, at work and at church. We consider Christ and others more important than ourselves.

2. Share in Jesus’ glory. On the first Palm Sunday Jesus received the adoration of the people. I mean there’s hand-slapping, fist-pumping, high-fiving and palm frond waving all along the parade route, but in a few short days all that adoration and cheering turned to abuse and jeers. (9 – 11) “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 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Because Jesus carried out the will of His Father humbly and faithfully, He was exalted. His human nature has now taken on all the properties and characteristics of His divine nature. He is now at the highest place as the highest God – having ascended into heaven.

What does all this mean for us? It means that while we gaze at the gore during this Holy Week, we keep one eye on the glory at the end of the week. It means that as you and I face the troubles of life we always do it with an eye peeled on the glory of heaven. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure,” (1 John 3:2-3).

I’m sure that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego weren’t too fired up (pun intended) about being dropped into a furnace. They probably assumed that in seconds they would be little piles of ashes. But they knew, “Lord, you are our Savior God!” He saved them. I’m sure Daniel wasn’t too tickled to be tossed into a lion’s den. He probably assumed that he would be torn to bits and then taken by God to heaven. Because he knew, “Lord, you are my Savior God!” God rescued him. The attitude of those people had been adjusted because of what God did for them and because of what God promised, a share in His glory. That kind of confidence amounts to hope for the present day and the eternal day. They had the right attitude centuries before Jesus showed the world exactly what a right attitude is.

If you were losing money on an investment but knew that in the long run it would quadruple in value, what kind of attitude would you have about that investment? If you bought a home in an old, dying neighborhood but knew that in a few years it would be redeveloped and worth five times what you paid, what kind of attitude would you have about that home? If you were losing a battle but knew for a fact that you would win the war, what kind of attitude would you have? You would be able to endure the difficult days because you were absolutely sure of the glory days, the outcome. That’s what Jesus gives us, certainty, confident hope, that we will share in His glory now and will share in it fully – forever! That, my friends is a Palm Sunday attitude.

Life isn’t always fair; and it isn’t always easy, either. We call it the highs and lows of living this side of heaven. Yet our Palm Sunday King illustrates the path on which God takes us. He takes us from cross to crown, from the battle field to the victory podium, and promises, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life,” (Revelation 2:10). If that doesn’t affect our attitude, nothing will! Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, Amen.