Jesus: The Reason for The Season

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“Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth an under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:6-11

This passage makes my mind soar. It’s poetic, and very simple explanation of the Great Mystery of the Incarnation, thrills me every time I hear it, or read it. It lifted my soul once again at yesterday’s Palm Sunday services as it is one of the traditional readings for Palm Sunday. This passage, for me, reveals the true ” reason for the season.”

In just a little over a hundred words Paul has revealed to us the Truth of the Incarnation. This Truth is supported by the Gospel passages for Palm Sunday that describe Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. This King is like no other king. His rule is rooted in the very core of humility itself. Jesus, the True King, enters the city without an entourage, without a coterie of fawning servants and acolytes, without any of the pomp and circumstance that earthly kings demand.

This King has come to give his all for us, even though we are in the midst of our sins. This King has let go of all that makes him a king of immeasurable power, worth and importance. He has “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.” And here is the phrase in the passage that reveals the depth of this willing humility, “…he humbled himself, becoming ‘obedient’ to death, even death on a cross.” He who is the very author and the supporter of all life, let go of even that priceless gift, to die for us, in order to free us from the chains of sin and death and to give us life—forever!

My saintly Irish grandmother taught me as a child to bow my head at the name of Jesus every time I heard it or read it. She did it all of her life and she introduced the habit of that simple little gesture into my life. I can not thank her enough for teaching me the truth of this passage from Paul’s letter to the Philippians that, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth an under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” My grandmother taught me to honor the name of Jesus with that little nod. With that little gesture of bowing my head, just that little nod, I turn away from my all too common stiff-necked pride for a brief moment, and my mind and ego bend again to the recognition of that Great Mystery, the Incarnation of Jesus, the Christ. With that little nod I give my obeisance to the Father and confess with my body what my mind willingly accepts, that Jesus Christ is Lord!

We are now in the final week of Lent. This is the one week of the entire year that is called Holy. There is a reason for this season of holiness. During this holy week, we who believe in Jesus will, once again, experience the full range of emotions associated with the events of this week. We will go from the thrill of his entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey on Palm Sunday, to the horrors of witnessing his passion, and the well-deep tears we will shed again at the foot of his Cross on Good Friday, to his Resurrection on Easter Sunday that will fill our hearts to overflowing with unbounded joy. Let us all, once again this Easter, renew our faith and deepen our love for the One who has given us everything. Let us develop the habit of “bending our knees” at the very name of Jesus. For it is in the power of that name that all things are possible.

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