April 18, 2011 - Becoming Like Us. Becoming Like Him.
Rev. Ken Bushey
Psalm 69:1-23; Philippians 3:1-14
Yesterday people were waving palm branches in celebration. Young and old were singing “Hosanna’’ with full voice. Some prepared the way for Jesus by covering his path with both their palms and their garments as something of a runner for their Prince of Peace. The atmosphere was thick with excitement.
That was yesterday. Today the mood begins to shift. Jesus knows what this week will bring. It has begun with the highest of moods. It will end in death.
I can almost hear Jesus reciting Psalm 69. As the psalmist says “the floods engulf me” (v 2), I hear our Lord pray, “I am overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matt 26:38). Jesus can relate to the psalmist feeling forsaken by God and surrounded by those “who hate me without reason” (v 4). The psalmist’s “parched throat” (v 3) and being offered “vinegar” and “gall” (v 21) call us to that which Jesus will experience for himself in a few days. This week he will know the pain of insults, the scorn, and being abandoned by his closest friends. This weekend his arms will be stretched out and fixed to the Roman symbol of shame. He will die between criminals “to restore what [he] did not steal” (v 4). And all of this suffering will be his because he is carrying out the will of God. Jesus can relate to the psalmist.
It is likely that at some point in your journey with Christ the insults of those who insult Christ have fallen on you (v 9). It is highly possible that even in these few weeks of our Lenten Journey together you have endured scorn because you fast (v 10), or perhaps people have made sport of you for mourning with sackcloth and ash (v 11). Jesus can relate to you.
This week we remember the passion of our Lord who “was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). We remember how he willing shared in our sufferings. We remember that he became like us in our death. We remember that Jesus has become like us.
But this week we also remember that as Christ has become like us, we are compelled to become like him. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10). Jesus can relate to me. I want to relate to Christ.
Lord Jesus, as we take our final steps in this journey to the cross, remind us of the lengths to which you have gone to relate to us. Enable us, by the power of your Spirit, to become more like you. Amen.