Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion · Philippians 2:5-11 · March 16, 2008

By Arthur F. Graudin,

The Introit for the Day in the Altar Book, LSB reminds the worshippers that the One who is the subject of the day’s worship is “the King of Glory.” “The King of Glory” is identified as “the Lord of hosts”—who is in charge of human and angelic armies, the sun, the moon, and the stars. “The King of Glory” is referred to as “the Lord” (יהוה)—the Covenant God (Ex 3:14, 15), God from eternity.

Philippians 2:5-11 can serve well as the text for the sermon when the emphasis is on either the Palm Sunday event or the Sunday of the Passion.

Verses 6 and 7 have been the object of much discussion. Various interpretations and translations have been proposed especially for the words of verse 7. KJV has “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (cf. also NKJV). The ESV and the NIV have “made himself nothing.” The NRSV has “emptied himself.” The NLT has “he gave up his divine privileges.” The Greek word εκενωσεν does have the meaning of “to empty.” The question becomes, “Of what did Christ Jesus ’empty Himself?” The witness of the New Testament indicates that He did not empty Himself of His divinity. The Lutheran Confessions interpret the passage by stating that the Son of God “did not reveal his majesty at all times but only when it pleased him, until he completely laid aside the form of a servant [Php 2:7] (but not his human nature) after the resurrection.”(FC, Ep, VIII, 16). (Cf. also FC SD, VIΙΙ, 25, 26: “…Of course, he also possessed the majesty from his conception in the womb of his mother, but, as the Apostle testifies [Php 2:7], he emptied himself of that majesty, and as Dr. Luther explains, [fn 265] he kept it secret in his state of humiliation and did not use it all the time but when he wanted to”).

In the text itself Christ Jesus is identified with God. He took the form of a servant and was truly human. He was both true God and true man. The God-man Christ Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. As the God-man Christ Jesus He died on the cross. Saint Paul said, “He humbled himself becoming obedient until death, indeed death on a cross.” Christ Jesus said of Himself, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45).

God the Father exalted Christ Jesus and gave Him a name that is above every name at, and to, which the totality of the creation is to bow. Every tongue is to confess, “Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.”

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No one can say, Jesus is Lord!’ except in die Holy Spirit” (ESV).

Suggested Outline:

The King of Glory

I. The God-man Christ Jesus had a mission

A. He entered Jerusalem to suffer and to die on a cross

B. As true God He conquered sin, death, and hell

C. As true man He was the substitute for all mankind

II. The Father exalted Him

A. Resurrection

B. Session

III. Believers

A. Those in whom the Holy Spirit has worked faith through:

1. Word
2. Sacraments

B. Are the beneficiaries of Christ’s suffering, death, and exaltation

C. Are called to confess before God and mankind that

1. “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
2. The “King of Glory!”
3. To the glory of God!

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