September 7, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above all names, 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, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2.1-11)
There is a way God desires things to be and Jesus is the image of it. It is for this reason Paul urged the community of faith in Philippi to be like Christ. What does it mean to be like Christ? He stipulates that though He was in His very nature and being the essence, the presence and the fullness of God as One who is served by those who are called by His Name, who call themselves His people and the sheep of His pasture and who call upon Him by the name He has given to them, He has taken on the nature and character of the created of God. This is His chief aim and goal in life. This is His understanding of the meaning and purpose of being Jesus of Nazareth, our Christ and the Messiah of God’s desire and design. The “this” is, of course, to serve God. He even establishes this fact of His life when He states without question “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve- to give His life as a ransom for many,” (Matthew 20.28) He emulates that desire in the Upper Room as He gathered with His disciples and those followers who were present, too. Nothing is ever said about “those followers” in attendance at the Last Supper apart from the declaration by the disciples sent from Jesus to tell the owner of the house, “The Master has need of it.” They were not random individuals who miraculously surrendered their home to this band of men in search of a BNB. They were known by Jesus. It is believed that this was the house of Mark’s parents. They were followers and believers. It was an honor to have Jesus celebrate the Passover in their house; celebrating essentially “with Him” as the fulfillment of the promise of Immanuel. The usual custom would have had them be the masters of the celebration and honored hosts. Yet, they surrendered that custom to a greater custom: honoring the Good Teacher in their midst. He was given the run of their house, their home and their Passover celebration. But, Jesus, having professed “I came to serve and not be served,” knelt down at all their feet and prepared Himself to be the one who did the washing which would welcome them into “His home.” It completely turned the tables as resolutely in the Upper Room as He had done earlier that week in the Temple courts driving out the money changers and vendors who pursued the unrighteousness of “selling forgiveness and salvation” as their token ministry. Except, this time Jesus did not do so with a whip, nor righteous indignation and nor with the admonishing and chastising Word of the Lord “You have turned My Father’s house of prayer into a den of thieves”. Animals were not scattered in temporary freedom. Scales and moneyboxes were not spilled. Fear did not reign. People were not left speechless. There were no disparaging looks. But, all in that room as the special Sabbath began that evening felt the move of the Spirit. It lead them in the direction of something new was coming into place. The “old” was virtually “flying out the window.” The “new” would return through those very windows seven weeks later on the day of Pentecost as tongues of fire and a mighty rushing wind: the Holy Spirit of God.
It would be by that Spirit the disciples would pursue the like-mindedness of being Christ followers. They would have the same love among them as those bound in spirit and purpose. The purpose was not merely to serve as they were called to love one another but to serve others with the declaration by “word and deed” of the dispensation of salvation through the teaching of the gospel. They embraced the paradigm of humbling themselves, as Jesus did, and acknowledging that the others in their lives were more important than themselves. They put on the simplest understanding of the motivation of the gospel of salvation because they have already been clothed with righteousness. Remember the words of Jesus as he approached His cousin, John the Baptizer, in the Jordan River to be baptized. John attempted to defer the privilege of baptism to the Master saying, “It is I who should be baptized by You, I am unworthy even to untie Your sandals.” John recognized the sinless nature of He who was fully God and fully man. In this man, Jesus, his cousin from Nazareth where everyone wondered “what good can come from there,” John understood the wonder of seeing God face to face with a spiritual vision of the “something more.” John would declare it to everyone, especially to the lurkers from the Temple court who were Pharisees and teachers of the Law, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” They certainly could not see it. They certainly refused to see it. They certainly determined to see anything but that about this Jesus of Nazareth. But, it was Jesus who deferred to John in order to “fulfill all righteousness.” That righteousness was made evident in His submission of His humankind-ness to the glory of God. He became “like-minded and unified in spirit and in purpose” just as God had called all those whom He loved to do for generations and centuries and aeons. They were meant to be lights to the world, visions of peace and visionaries of the way of God passing through the literal Wilderness of Sin on their way to the Promised Land rich in “milk and honey.” Jesus was anointed in the baptism for the ministry given to Him. If He had any other designs, if any had any other designs of Him to be “God in a human body” to obey their understanding of Messiah, they were washed away in the Jordan River. Jesus set in motion that which we celebrate today in our practice of baptism, “He died to Christ and was raised in the newness of life’s purpose as one who trusts in God alone.” Jesus became immersed in the declaration of “Preparing the way of the Lord; repent and be baptized.” What He was preparing for was the future return of the King of kings and Lord of lords who would reign over heaven and earth at God’s command on “that Day.” On “that Day” every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is indeed “that Lord!” And when He returns, it will be with an undeniable authority and yet with a like-mindedness that would never change. His Spirit and His Purpose was to, is to and will always be to “serve the Lord My God with all My heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love others as I am loved by God.” God’s will was done, is done and will always be expected to be done on earth (whether in the old or in the new) as it is in Heaven.
Yes, the disciples then would walk as Jesus walked. They would be confident, bold and full of the Holy Spirit being unconcerned for their own welfare because they had been established in the Kingdom of God in the “life’s baptism” by the water and the fire of the Holy Spirit. Now, they would go forth into all their worlds to make disciples, to be teachers and to accomplish the good that was given to them in the ongoing season of Jubilee. Mighty ones of God, believers in Jesus of Nazareth who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, this is intended to be our lot as well. We are now masters of the celebration of the Upper Room. It has been yielded to us by our confession and profession of faith. We have been equally yoked with Christ to be the servants of God serving the people of God. It is our time to shine bringing glory to God who has promised to magnify the fruit of our efforts with the power and dominion and authority of His Word- Jesus the Christ. Let us bow before God and one another with the attitude of gratitude which allows us to serve with gladness those on whom God’s favor desires to rest. Let us anoint them with gladness so that they may receive the joy of the Lord as their strength. This is our purpose and this is meant to be our spirit of likemindedness…in Jesus’ name.
Father, You who has created all things in beautiful design and who has fashioned each of us to accomplish Your Word and Your will for all people, receive our service of thanksgiving and our worship by faith. May the words we speak and the works we offer today bring glory to You and opportunity to others to share in the way, the truth and the life which is Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.