The Day Pride Died
Text: Matthew 21:1-17 | Listen to Message
Can we start with the simple acknowledgement that our world – from the most traditional to the most progressive culture – is built on an obsession with self? We constantly and instinctively put our own opinions and interests above the needs of others. We want what we want, and we’re mad when we don’t get our way.
Our pride makes us miserable, frustrated, and envious. It produces conflict, division, and even war. But we’re not about to stop being proud anytime soon, are we? That’s the funny thing about pride: we can always convince ourselves it’s someone else’s fault and we’re just the victim.
In case you haven’t heard, Jesus is opposed to our foolish pride. But better than just disapproval, he came to free us and rescue us from pride’s death grip. Ironically, he accomplished this salvation through his own humility.
Jesus was the Messiah – God’s anointed servant and Son. The King of kings and Savior of the world. He could’ve marched right into Jerusalem, or Rome for that matter, and asserted his right to the throne. Instead, his parade that began on Palm Sunday led to a cross. Paradoxically, this is how we know Jesus is who he said he was. No other king ever lived and loved like this.
See, kings act like Pontius Pilate. Before Passover, Pilate made the trip from Caesarea to Jerusalem and rode into the city from the west on the back of a warhorse. Pilate’s was a military parade, a show of force that said, “I’m the boss, so don’t try anything or I’ll crush you.”
Before Passover, Jesus also rode into Jerusalem, but he came from the east on the back of a young donkey. A creature that symbolized peace and the bearing of burdens. His entourage was engaged in prophetic worship, singing the Hallel Psalms and praising God.
Pilate rode into Jerusalem to subjugate. Jesus rode into Jerusalem to liberate. Pilate’s kingdom was built with militarism. Jesus’ kingdom was built with mercy. Pilate executed his enemies to keep his tenuous grasp on authority. Jesus was executed for his enemies because he knew all authority was forever his. Pilate made people weep. Jesus wept.
In Jesus, we find the marks of true humility. I say true humility because we often confuse humility with passivity, quietness, and keeping to ourselves. But that’s not the Jesus we encounter on Palm Sunday – a Jesus who trashed the Temple courtyards, excoriated the self-righteous, and cursed a fig tree for being all show and no fruit.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus is showing us a more authentic humility – a humility defined by what it is rather than by what it isn’t. See, for Jesus, humility meant being emotional, outspoken, and passionate. But notice his passion wasn’t about himself, and it wasn’t about saving himself.
For Jesus, humility meant passion for the glory of God and self-giving love for the salvation of sinners.
What if this is the definition of true humility? What if the right question isn’t, “Am I being humble right now?” (which puts the focus right back on self). What if the question is, “Am I passionate about the glory of the Father and am I giving my life for the redemption of the lost and broken?”
We are saved by the grace of Jesus’ humility. And we are saved follow in his humble steps, making our own lives about the glory of God and the salvation of sinners.