Let us pray: Dear Savior, although it is an affront to our pride, today You teach us that true love is found only through humility. True achievement and satisfaction is found only when we put our pride in our pocket and surrender our all to You—trusting in Your goodness. Move us to surrender our all to you so that each of us can grasp true fulfillment in this life. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIGHT!
TEXT: Philippians 2: 1-11
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
The year was 1940. Times were hard on the farm as the Great Depression was winding down. Frank, then just 17, was out with his father hunting deer. It was a cold November day and Frank wanted to be indoors by the fire. But, food was tough to come by and they needed the deer meat for the long winter ahead. When your stomach growls you’ll find a way to make it stop. Suddenly they saw a buck ahead. Frank had never shot a deer before, but in the excitement he quickly raised his rifle and fired. The buck was hit but ran off into the woods. They arrived at the spot where he had stood and Frank saw blood, but no deer. He didn’t know what to do. But then his father said: “Just follow the blood trail and it will be o.k.” They did and about 50 yards into the woods there lay the deer, dead. Later that winter when the winds howled and his mother made venison stew, Frank recalled that day and was glad he followed his dad’s advice.
Four years later Frank was crawling on his belly through a mine field in France. He had joined up after Pearl Harbor and been in the second wave on D. Day. Up til now his platoon had been relatively unscathed by the war. Oh, a couple of his mates were killed, others wounded, but his closest friends in the company were still untouched. A few minutes before all that had changed. They were just walking along when suddenly a mine exploded ahead and severely wounded his best friend. Everyone froze. One misstep would mean certain death. His wounded friend kept crawling along to the edge of the river ahead. There he collapsed having made it to safety. No one knew what to do. Frank was scared, more scared than he had ever been. But just then, his father’s words from that deer hunt came back to him: “Just follow the blood trail and it will be o.k.” Frank did just that. He crawled across his buddy’s blood trail and made it to safety. His mates followed. That bloody trail saved them!
My friends, the same is true for you and me. If we want to be saved in this life and the life to come, if we want moments fulfillment and desire true achievement on earth, we need to do what Frank did. We need to:
FOLLOW CHRIST’S BLOOD TRAIL
Blood is gory. Blood is severe. We all shy away from it. We hate to see people suffer and we hate to see animals suffer. I suppose that is the primary reason, along with cheap supermarket food, that people don’t hunt much today. To see a person or an animal bleeding shocks our sensibilities. And yet, blood is what saves us. Christ died on a cross, bled on a cross, so that our souls would be cleansed by His very life force. And the reason He did so was that He loved us. He knew that to save us and make amends for our sins He would have to die for them. Only God’s blood could erase them. His life force for our lives.
As the eternal Son of God, Christ’s love for us overcame His love for Himself. So He left heaven, condescended to take on our flesh and blood, and agreed to die in order to win eternal freedom for our souls. This amazing fact is outlined by St. Paul in our text when he writes: “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! 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.”
To paraphrase Paul, he’s telling us to: Follow the blood trail! Don’t be afraid to walk in Christ’s bloody footprints. Trust in Him to lead you out of the minefield that sin and Satan have laid for you. And if you do, you’ll discover true joy, true love, and true fulfillment on the other side! Yes, even in the process of crawling through life you’ll discover moments of enlightenment and achievement. For “he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Of course, the question remains: How can I do so? I don’t see any blood trail leading out the door of the church, so how is all this possible? Again, St. Paul tells us in the opening paragraph of our lesson: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete be being likeminded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Notice how Paul begins his litany of what it means to follow the blood trail; he begins each section with the words: “if you have any….” He doesn’t say: “if you have a lot.” He doesn’t question the amount of such personal blessings, no, he presupposes that you already possess these gifts, at least a little, as the Christian. And why do you possess them already? Because, don’t look down now, but you’re already crawling along Jesus’ blood trail and some of it has stained you for the better!
Well, now that we’ve established that you possess: unity in Christ, comfort from His love, fellowship with the Spirit, tenderness, compassion, likemindedness, and true oneness in Christ, use these blessings to make God’s joy complete! That’s why He’s given them to you in the first place! Put aside selfishness, vanity for vanities sake, and self interest. Think of how you can make an impact on others first instead of thinking how you can further yourself. You’re all in the minefield together.
You know at their 25th reunion, Frank’s platoon talked about that bloody experience. Each man had the same view of it. Each one agreed that when they were crawling along through the mud and blood they: 1. Never felt closer to God. 2. Never appreciated another human being more. And 3. Never felt the same degree of satisfaction as when they reached safety together. Each man agreed that they had never felt more alive as when they humbly followed that blood trail and were saved.
Following Christ’s blood trail will give you that same sense of humble accomplishment in this life and that same sense of humble exhilaration. But most importantly, when you follow His blood trail, your sense of thankfulness and joy will never end because heaven is your ultimate fulfillment. Amen