The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity
+ IN NOMINE IESU +
“Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Pride is the essence of sin. Pride seeks its own advantage. It sets itself above and against God and His Word. This is a sin against the First Commandment. Every sin says to God, “I know what you want, how you say I should live, but I know better; I have a better law than yours.” So every sin is a sin against the First Commandment. Every sin makes oneself one’s own god. Every sin is pride, an exaltation of oneself.
This is how it went in the Garden of Eden. Since the fruit from the tree forbidden by God seemed to be good for food, would make them wise and like God, they took it and ate. They sought to exalt themselves. They wanted to make themselves like unto God.
The irony of this is that in so doing they weren’t exalted. They were instead humbled, and they lost their place of exaltation. They were already wise. They were already like God. For they had God’s Word, which created them in God’s own image and likeness. They gained nothing and lost everything.
Likewise with all your sins. Your pride seeks your own exaltation. And yet it only leads to humiliation. For example: A child doesn’t listen to his parents’ bidding, he sets himself over his parents. He exalts himself above those who have been placed above him by God. He breaks the Fourth Commandment. Thus setting himself above, exalting himself above God himself. And yet this very act leads to his humbling for he comes not only under the wrath of his parents but also under the wrath of God who gave the command “Honor your father and mother.”
This can be applied to every situation in every relationship that each of you have. Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy in your calling as one of these? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome in your calling as one of these? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds in your calling as one of these? And your pride always seeks to exalt you over the other: sons and daughters over fathers and mothers, husbands over wives and wives over husbands, workers over employers. And why? Because you think you know better than God. You think you know how to live better than what God revealed in His Word. You don’t trust that His way is best and will actually lead to what you need and desire most. And so you exalt yourself. But this only brings humiliation. It only brings you under God’s wrath and punishment.
Humble yourselves then under the Word of God and do what it says. Empty yourself of all pretense, of everything that you think you deserve. Empty yourself of all your merits, your worthiness, and your own status, and listen to the Word of God and do what it says.
Husband love your wives as Christ loved the Church. Wives respect your husbands as to the Lord. Parents do not be harsh with your children, provoking them to anger lest they be discouraged but bring them up in the knowledge and instruction of the Lord, reminding them what God commands and demands of them in his Word. Children honor your parents as to the Lord and obey them in everything for this is pleasing to the Lord. Workers obey your employers with respect and fear and work for them as for the Lord. Employers treat your workers with respect and fear as to the Lord, compensate them fairly, and remind them of their duty with gentleness. And to all, love your neighbor as yourself and pray for everyone, even all evil people.
So, how’s that going? Have you done this? Have you done it fully all of the time, even when you didn’t get enough sleep or were having a bad day? Humility doesn’t come naturally to our fallen, sinful flesh. Pride does. We are not humble when we deal with those closest to us. We are prideful. Repent. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Notice the change in the subject from “everyone” to “he,” from a plural collective to a singular. There is only one who has humbled himself, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Jesus humbled himself to dwell among us. He emptied himself of all divine rights to take on the form a servant, to suffer death, even the shame of death on a cross. God became man, not by changing the divinity in the flesh but by taking up humanity into God. He humbled himself and became man. And in this man is exalted. In this you are exalted.
You are exalted because Christ became what you are to make you what He is. You are exalted with the work of Christ for you. You are emptied of your sin to be filled with the righteousness of Christ. You are emptied of your own merits and your worthiness, which is death and hell, and filled with the merits and worthiness of Christ, which is life and eternal salvation. You are emptied of your own status as a sinner and given His status as Sons of God the Father.
And so the host of the Feast, God in human flesh, calls to you: “Friend, move up higher. Move from down there where you are sitting to sit with me up here. Have a seat at my table in my Father’s house. Come as those humbled by your sin, and be emptied of it to be filled with eternal things, holy things, divine things.” Consume the Body and Blood of the Son of God, who is seated at the right hand of the Father. He has emptied himself to come to you in humble bread and wine, so that you will be exalted to be where he is. And you are where He is. For you are gathered together with the holy angels and archangels, with the whole company of heaven, in the heavenly throne room. For you are in heaven on earth. He has come down so that you will be raised up. He has humbled himself, so that you will be exalted. God has dwelt with man as a man, so that you will dwell with God forever. He is Immanuel, God with us. God is with you in Christ, and in Christ you are with God. For he who humbled himself for you is exalted. And in Him so are you. Amen.