Glory in the Highest
March 20, 2016
Part 1: Animal Story
The thing that sticks out in this story is what our Lord Jesus Christ was set upon as he entered Jerusalem in order to die for us. He was set upon a colt or a donkey. A rather humble animal I must say. Not quite fitting or deserving for a king. But it happened. Jesus chose it. The first half of the story is pretty clear on that. And the choice of animal was hugely meaningful.
You see, several hundreds of years before this happened, the prophet Zechariah declared that the promised Messiah would enter into the city of Jerusalem on a colt or a donkey. Zechariah said, “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The precision here is quite amazing. But what is even more amazing is what it meant for the Messiah to enter on such an animal. It meant that this Messiah would be a humble king. Our messiah would be a humble king - a lowly, poor, and afflicted king.
And the million dollar question is: why? Why must Jesus be a king who is humble?
Part 2: H Is For Humiliation
The reason why Jesus must be humble is simple. Jesus humbled himself in order to save us. His humiliation is our salvation. Let us count all the ways in which Jesus endured humiliation, and let us be in awe of how much our Lord loves us.
First, our Lord humbled himself by taking upon himself a human nature. Think about the mystery of the Incarnation. In the words of Paul in Philippians 2, think about how Christ, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. That’s why it had to be a colt.
Second, our Lord humbled himself by receiving lowliness on this earth. Think about how Christ was born in a manger. Think about how he was born into a poor family and had no social standing among men. He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. That’s why it had to be a donkey.
Third, our Lord humbled himself by subjecting himself to the law - to his law that we are supposed to obey. Think about how the one who gave the law came under the law for our sake. Think about how Christ perfectly obeyed the law and then credited us with his righteousness so that we could be saved. That’s why it had to be a colt.
Fourth, our Lord humbled himself by experiencing human misery. Think about how Jesus knew hunger and loneliness. Think about how he cried when Lazarus died. Think about how he endured the betrayal of Judas and the abandonment of Peter and all his disciples. Think about how Jesus was scorned and rejected by Israel. That’s why it had to be a donkey.
Fifth and finally, our Lord humbled himself through his suffering and his death. Think about how Jesus was condemned by Pontius Pilate and traded for a criminal. How he was beaten and humiliated by the soldiers at Calvary. Think about his body and his blood, the crown of thorns and the nails in his hands and feet. Think about how he was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. Think about how Jesus bore the wrath of God as an sacrificial offering for your sin. Think about how he died for you. That’s why it had to be a colt.
Brothers and sisters, the choice of animal is only the tip of the iceberg. Jesus humbled himself greatly for our salvation. His humiliation is our salvation. Let us be in awe of how our Lord loved us. There is no greater humility than this.
Part 3: Dear Highland
Dear Highland, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, then complete the joy of the Lord by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Dear Highland, do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Dear Highland, have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Part 4: Back To The Future
In the end of today’s story in Luke, we see that the whole multitude of Jesus’ disciples rejoiced and praised God. But, more importantly, at the end of the entire book of Luke, we see that Jesus’ humiliation was no more and that he was exalted. And these two facts give us two wonderful things to look forward to.
First, just as the people rejoiced as Jesus entered the earthly Jerusalem, so now do we as God’s people rejoice as we enter the heavenly Jerusalem. You see, the church is heavenly, not worldly. We do not worship God in a world bound by carpets of cloaks or waves of palm branches. Rather, we worship God in the heavenly Mount Zion and in the heavenly Jerusalem. Every Sunday morning at 10:00 am, we join with the innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. This is mind-blowing. We cannot see this with our own eyes. For now, we walk by faith. But one day, we will see the kingdom of God and the new heavens and the new earth. One day, we will worship Christ face to face. And on that day, we will walk by sight. This is a wonderful gospel promise to look forward to.
Second, just as our Lord Jesus received exaltation after his humiliation, so also will we receive exaltation after our time of suffering and endurance on this fading earth. The Bible teaches us that the reward for Christ’s humiliation was his exaltation. Christ Jesus emptied himself by taking the form of a servant. Christ humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 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. Put simply, our Lord endured humiliation and then earned exaltation. His exaltation is nothing less than his resurrection, his ascension and his glorification.
If Christ is the first fruit, if he is our forerunner, and if we are united with him, then we will one day receive exaltation as well. This is a true part of the gospel. Although we go through our own kind of humiliation and suffering in the wilderness of this fading earth, we too will one day be exalted and glorified. Though we may die, in Christ we will have resurrection life and ascend into heaven and be glorified. We too will be exalted, provided that we humble ourselves as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:12). This is another wonderful gospel promise to look forward to.
In closing, brothers and sisters, be comforted, knowing that you worship Christ right now in the heavenly Jerusalem and that one day you will worship him face to face. And be amazed by God’s promise that your humiliation and suffering on this earth will result in resurrection life and exaltation and glorification in Christ.