On Bended Knee
Philippians 2:5-11

Palm Sunday is one of those Sundays of the year where there is a confusing set of emotions in play.  We are about to enter Holy Week to once again follow the path of Jesus to the cross.  Today we hear the story of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, with crowds of people gathered around singing his praises, and in the back of our minds lurks the passion account.

Some of us have heard the passion account slowly unfold in our Lenten services in the past few weeks; others will hear it again on Friday. We know what’s coming, we know what it entails and we know that the time is here.

Today we also experience mixed emotions as we rejoice with Claire as she publicly confesses her faith through the rite of confirmation and at the end of the same service we will farewell our friends Pastor Thomas, Lyn and Natasha. 

Life’s like that isn’t it?  We’re often struck by mixed emotions, rejoicing and sorrow can hit us at almost the same time.  The clip I just showed eluded to some conflicting circumstances on the first Palm Sunday, people were shouting praises, laying down branches and cloaks before Jesus, treating him like a king, and yet others in the crowd were perhaps plotting to have him killed.

The people were looking for a king, to save them from the Romans, to free them from oppression.  But that wasn’t what Jesus came for.  They wanted things to happen their way, not God’s way.  They wanted a king, he came as a servant, and we’ll hear more of that on Maundy Thursday.  If they had have gotten their way we would have still been still been lost in our sin, but through God’s way we have been saved from our sin.  We have been given eternal life.

Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.  We’ve heard it many times; we’ve sung it many times, today it is a part of our readings.  Jesus could have said no, he could have avoided all of this pain and suffering, but he chose the path that would lead to our salvation.  The king, humbled himself and took the form of a slave, carried our sins to the cross and hung them there, with him.  So now he is highly exalted, his name is above every other name, he is truly a king.  Not the kind of king that the Israelites were after, but the king of the entire universe.  He has given us his name, Jesus Christ, in order that we can confess that he is Lord.

That’s a name that we can call on as many times, as often as we like.  When we find ourselves on bended knee, broken, ashamed, guilt ridden, we are able to call on his name, and always count on him to hear us.  When I was a youngster I remember we used to have the opportunity to kneel for confession and to pray.  We don’t seem to do that anymore.  The pastors do at Croydon where there is a step to kneel on for confession at least.  That’s why over the last couple of months we’ve sat for confession every now and then.  To remind us that we come to God the Father on bended knee and ask him for forgiveness, with the authority of his Son Jesus, and by the power of our advocate the Holy Spirit.

God wants us to come before him, to confess that his Son Jesus is Lord of all, to ask for his forgiveness and to receive it freely.

I think it is wonderful that today Claire has taken the brave step of coming up to the front of this large congregation and declaring her faith in God.  Her ritual act has embodied our text before us.  We don’t need a drama to provide the image of it for us; we’ve got the real thing.  There is no doubt that Claire was nervous, but I know that God has given her peace through all of her nerves because in the text that she chose, the promise is made, “the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

It is Christ Jesus, and the name given to him by his father that gives us the ability to confess that he is indeed Lord, we will never fully understand the magnitude of that peace, or the gift that he has given us.  But we can with his help turn to him and confess that he is Lord, that he is our saviour and that we love him.  And he loves us, no matter where we are or what we are doing, or how we are serving him.  He loves us, so much that he came to die for us so that we might have eternal life.

This isn’t our way, it’s his way.  If it was our way we’d probably understand it far more, but God’s way is more difficult to comprehend.  All of this last shall be first and first shall be last, arriving humble on a donkey and yet being exalted.  Carrying his cross to Golgotha, dying a horrible death and yet being exalted.

As we journey with him to the cross this week and await the celebration of his victory over death for our sake, remember what he has done for you, celebrate that.  Humble yourself before him, come on bended knee, ask for his forgiveness and receive it, because that is the gift that he gives you.  Call on his name as he is calling yours, hear his voice, and rejoice in his goodness to you.
Amen