Stooping to Reign

St. Matthew 21:1-11

by The Rt. Rev. Daniel R. Morse

Advent 2007


We usually think of someone rising to power, being elevated to a position of authority. Jesus said he came to be servant of all, humbled himself, took on the form of a servant, and became obedient to death on the cross. Think of his birth, of his life (no place to lay his head), of his death. It is the same now on Palm Sunday. He was crowned King of Jerusalem on this day and killed a few days later. Celebrate coronation of Christ.

I. The Strength Test

A. Some people measure strength by how many people they can push around, bad mouth, be in-your-face to. When I was in 5th & 6th grades Mrs. Payne & Mrs. Moore impressed on us that the proper way for boys to show real strength was by being polite. That is not the way of the world—The Gentiles lord it over others, but the one who is greatest is servant of all.

B. Does a father show his strength by beating up his children? Will that make them appreciate his strength? Does a husband show his strength to his wife by always making her do what he wants? Does a minister show his authority by ruling the church with an iron fist? This is the way of the police state.

C. The true measure of strength is restraint—use strength to serve, encourage, save, and bless. Jesus didn’t need to grasp, seize with strength, kingship. He was secure in his royalty and so He was happy and comfortable stooping to bless—humbling himself for the most menial tasks for the benefit of sinners.

II. The Power Test

A. Strength and power are not the same. Think of Jesus calming the storm on sea—the storm had strength, but Jesus had power—He spoke and it was done. Jesus showed His power by evoking praises from the crowds even though he came into the city in plain clothes seated on a  donkey that he commandeered. He didn’t even own His own donkey.

B. Jesus showed power to Pharisees with rocks (Lk. 19:40)—not by hitting them with rocks, but by saying that He was such a great and powerful king that He even ruled over creation. There has never been any other king like that.

III. The Truth Test

A. It may not look like it, but Jesus really is king over all the world. He doesn’t come with weapons and armies, jails and electric chairs. But the truth is that He is the only real King.

B. We see the truth of his royalty in His birth—angels’ song—in healing the sick, commanding the storm, casting out demons, cleansing the temple. But we see it most of all in His mighty resurrection.

C. Jesus has made us kings and queens—we are not trying to be, not fighting off others who threaten to take away our crowns and thrones. We are not in danger of losing them if we show weakness by serving. We must enjoy reigning by serving.