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March 18, 2020

At the Name of Jesus Every Knee Shall Bow

Preacher: Rev. Jack Meehan Series: Lenten Midweek 2020: The Hymn of Christ Category: Biblical Scripture: Philippians 2:5–11

Midweek Lenten Service

March 18, 2020

Philippians 2:5-11

 “At the Name of Jesus Every Knee Shall Bow”

We are now living with the disruption in daily life that public health officials predicted could happen with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Public gatherings of more than 10 people have now been discouraged by the governor of Virginia, as he shared in an update yesterday on March 17. And the Centers for Disease Controls has said that gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned for the next eight weeks (( More states are now closing eat-in restaurants, as well as bars and movie theaters. Yesterday, Southeastern President John Denninger led a webcast for District congregations, church workers, and members, encouraging all of us to be mindful of the needs of neighbors and to exercise good decision-making for the good not only of our congregations, but our communities as well. All of this social distancing is to help flatten the curve, or spread, of the coronavirus. With schools closed, public gatherings banned, worship services suspended, and grocery stores stripped bare, life is very strange right now. Is there a blessing in disguise here? Perhaps this enforced and extended Sabbath is causing us to examine each of our lives more closely. Perhaps this halt to our busy schedules will be an opportunity for us, especially in this Lenten season, to focus our hearts and minds where true joy is found; and that is in Christ Jesus who humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). This evening on our Lenten journey we consider part of that passage from Philippians 2:5-11, where Paul the apostle writes: “At the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow” (Philippians 2:10). May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word for Jesus’ sake.

In this time of the coronavirus, lots of alternatives have been proposed to shaking hands: the fist bump, the elbow bump, the foot tap, the hand wave, the head bow. Who knows? Maybe one of these will catch on and become the new norm in life after the coronavirus. One that has not caught on, and hasn’t even been proposed as far as I know, is bowing the knee. To bow the knee before another is to subjugate yourself to the other person; to present yourself as an inferior. Maybe that’s why this was never even proposed. Who wants to admit that another person is superior while you yourself are inferior? All of that is bound up in bowing the knee. And this is exactly what Paul writes about in that verse we’re focusing. Because “Christ humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Philippians 2:8-10). What is that Name that God the Father has bestowed on Jesus? It is what Jesus’ very Name means: Yeshua, or Joshua, which means, “God saves.” Jesus’ Name is who He is and what He does: God saves. As the angel announced to Joseph before Jesus was born: “You shall call his Name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This is the Name which is above every name, and that is why we are moved to bow our knees at the Name of Jesus.

The truth is that we can and do bow our knees to many things in life besides the Name of Jesus. Building on Luther’s explanation to the First Commandment, what is it that we “fear, love, and trust above all things?” Right now, we may be really tempted to bow the knee to fear and anxiety with the coronavirus. It’s like a good friend said the other day about going into the grocery store right now. There are two types of people there right now: those who seem calm and composed, who look you in the eye; and those who are not calm and composed, who have that deer in the headlights look. To be sure, there are real concerns for the foreseeable future. But never forget the promise of Jesus: “I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). No matter what the future may hold, come what may, we are in the hands of Jesus; those hands which were pierced by nails on the tree of the cross for each and every one of us. Even now, those hands reach out to us in love, calling us to love one another as he has loved us in the midst of the fear and anxiety.

Right now, we do not see every knee bowing at the Name of Jesus. If anything, it seems that there are fewer and fewer knees bowing at the Name of Jesus, especially here in our own country. But we do not lose heart or become discouraged. Instead, we remain “steadfast, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). We “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). On that great and final day when Christ shall come again, that is when all the world will see Jesus for who He really is: not as the helpless Infant in the stable, not as the crucified One forsaken by his Father on the cross, but as the King and Judge of all creation. That is when, at the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.