Servant Attitude
Philippians 2:5-11

In the ‘Today’s New International Version’ of the reading from Paul’s letter to the Philippians verse five reads like this, “In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had.”  This is perhaps a bit of a commentary on the previous verses that speak of valuing others above ourselves and doing nothing out of vain conceit.  The sentiment works, attitude plays a huge role in the relationships we have with one another but to have the same attitude of mind as Jesus, well, that’s a tough act to follow.

The text does go on to explain what that attitude looked like though.  Number one, he didn’t use the fact that he was and is God to his advantage.  Number two, he became a human being.  Number three, he humbled himself to the point of death.

As a result God the Father exalted him to the highest place.  So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

This fits so beautifully with the parable of the workers in the vineyard which finishes with, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”  This isn’t like the pastor eating last at a community meal because he is talking to people and misses his opportunity; this is about humility and service of others, especially those who are in authority over us.

Among the disciples there is little doubt that Jesus was the one who was in authority, yet on Thursday night we will again hear the story of the last supper and Jesus rising up from the table and wrapping a towel around his waist getting down on his knees and washing the feet of his disciples.  So many times throughout Jesus’ ministry we see him humbly and quietly, selflessly serving others.

Our gospel story is another classic example.  Jesus, Son of God takes his final journey into Jerusalem with no intention of the fanfare that ensues.  He rides in on the back of a young donkey, and here I can’t help but make the connection between this event and the beginning of his journey as his mother rode to Bethlehem on the back of a donkey, while heavily pregnant.  This time he is an adult, and his destiny has not changed, Jerusalem is his ultimate destination.

As he enters the people take off their outer garments and spread them on the road along with branches from nearby trees, as a kind of early red carpet arrival.  All of those tongues gathered there are praising Jesus and proclaiming that he is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.  Every tongue is confessing that Jesus is Lord and as they are placing garments and branches on the road in front of Jesus it could be said that they are bowing down.

So we have Jesus attitude of humility and service, and the people gathered to welcome him into Jerusalem.  Where do we fit into all of this?  To go back to the TNIV’s, “In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had.”  How do our relationships reflect the attitude of Jesus?  When we interact with the people we work with, or those in authority over us, are we trying to be the boss, or to wield our power even if we don’t have it, or are we there to humbly offer ourselves and the gifts and talents that God has given us to others?  What about here in our congregation, do you think our relationships and connections are following along with Jesus attitude?

As I look around this congregation I see how much each of you does in your care and concern for others.  I probably hear more about what goes on behind the scenes than many of you might realise.  There are phone calls made, blankets knitted, meals delivered, visits done, and usually humbly, quietly and without fanfare.  In fact most of the time it’s done so quietly that no one else in the congregation even realises it’s going on.  We have people collecting others to bring them to worship and fellowship events and Bible studies, others who are faithfully praying for individuals and families and friends and the church, even our men are quietly and humbly keeping an eye on each other. 

You need to hear this good news, you need to be aware that throughout our congregation and every congregation there are good Christian people humbly serving and caring for one another and having the same or at least a similar attitude of mind to Christ Jesus.

Yet none of us could ever take the rest of the journey with Jesus, we can be humble, we can be selfless as we serve others, but to take the journey through Holy Week to the cross and beyond is something only Jesus could do.  As we heard last week, even he seemed to struggle a bit with whether he would be able to go through with the horror that was about to unfold, but with the help of God the Father, he was able to.

And he did it for us, for you and me, for Corey David Nickel who was baptised last week and Gabrielle Eve Parkinson who was baptised this morning.  It was even for those who are sitting here right now thinking this is all a bit much and I wish it was over so I can go and have a beer and relax.  Yep especially for you!  You just have to believe it!

The mission that Jesus took on was to suffer and die for the forgiveness of our sins, and every one of us whether we like to admit it or not is indeed a sinner.  We all need forgiveness, we all fall short, we don’t always like to admit it but it’s true.  He did it to restore a right relationship between us and God the Father and as we will hear again this week, he achieved and now we live in it.

Over the coming week as we prepare to again celebrate the festival of Easter, think about how you can restore or build relationships with other through humbly serving, put others first and yourself last. 

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had.

Amen.