Midweek Advent Service December 8, 2021
“Jesus, The King of The Least” Philippians 2:5-8
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
Jesus, as great as He is, is only King of some of us. He is only King of those who are the least. Least, not in the sense of abilities or talent. Least, not in sense of how much you possess or in the influence you can make in the world. Least – in your heart. Jesus can only be your King if you are among the least in all the world in matters of your heart. If you are not among the least you will never make it to heaven.
Listen to this: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature 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. (Philippians 2:5-8)
I was meeting with one of the many new worshippers that have been coming here. After thanking him for coming, I asked him, “Tell me about you.” He said, “I was once a very arrogant person. I thought I knew everything, and how life was going to go. But God did something about that. God humbled me. I am no longer an arrogant person.” What a change in life!! Then he told me the things he used to think he knew and then the person he is becoming. Jesus, today, is the King, the Lord, and the Master of this man, but the route was not an easy one.
Jesus is only the King of those who are least – in their heart. Jesus once addressed this truth like this: At that time the disciples of Jesus came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-4)
Many of us have a hard time with being the least or the neediest or dependent on others, we pride ourselves in our independence and success – but only in that time of being the least can God do His work. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) When Jesus was chastised because He was in the company of sinners, He responded with these good words, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31)
During these days of Advent we hear much about the person and the message of John the Baptist. He said that every mountain and hill would be made low. (See Luke 3:5) No room for spiritual arrogance and self-created pride. It is time for our God to do His work – He can only work among the least. The writer to the Hebrews spoke sharply when they wrote, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:5b-6)
Jesus is the King of the least. But that can only happen because Jesus, the King, became the least. “He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…” In the Nicene Creed we say, “Who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man.”
In the early church one of the first heresies was the teaching that Jesus wasn’t fully man. They accepted the truth that Jesus is God – powerful, great and filled with splendor, but they couldn’t accept that Jesus could be the least – that He could be man. It was too dirty, common, and low. In the epistle of St. John we read, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (I John 4:2-3)
But you and I do not stay the least. Jesus Christ did not stay the least. We must start that way but it does not end that way. When John was talking about the need for repentance and spoke about every mountain and hill made low, he also said, “Every valley shall be filled in, the crooked roads shall become straight, and the rough ways made smooth.” (See Luke 3:5) What was made low is raised up. What was most rough becomes smooth.
The forgiveness given to us by Jesus has raised us up. The resurrection of Jesus brings us a real hope. All sins are washed away. The heart is whole and clean and strong. It is no longer broken but healed. Jesus, the King of the least, in His power to transform life does a daily and eternal work in us.
Jesus, fully human, fully lowly, and the least, doesn’t stay in poverty and humiliation. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 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 2:9-11)
When Jesus said that He came to give life to the very fullest, I believe that this is what He meant. He can only work in hearts that are broken, needy, seeking, the lowest and least. And my, what a work He does!! Right now He showers us with cleansing, hope and peace. And when we’re done living here, He’ll complete His work.
Lord, wherever we are in life right now, work in us. Work among us, the very least. Amen!!