Read: Matthew 21:1-9   Philippians 2:5-11

We may think of those valleys of defeat and loneliness through which we sometimes have to travel as dangerous. We know how we can get so low and so discouraged that we want to give up.

"What's the use of going on? It's too hard. I'll never make it. I'm not strong enough."

But there is a stretch of road which is far more dangerous than those valleys of defeat. It's when you're cruising along up there, where people are complimenting you and speaking well of you, looking to you as one who really has the answers, and you're tempted to let your head get turned.

Almost every person who ever bites the dust in the Valley of Defeat was destroyed long before he ever hit that valley. Their soul was corrupted when things were going well and when everybody was their  friend. Only they didn't know it until those supports for their ego were taken away.

- When they have to live without admirers, without success, and without congenial circumstances.

- When they have to live on the sheer grace of God, they go to pieces in five minutes.

The trick is to be able to travel through that Valley of Defeat with a song in your heart.

Your friends have left.

Your accomplishments and tranquil circumstances are consumed in raging fires and black tempest.

But you keep going! Your eyes are on God who you know is with you. He's all you need!

Nobody can do this unless they have the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is a mind that's free from that craving for glory.

Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Who being in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself - emptied Himself of the glory which was rightfully His.

The Eternal Word by whom the worlds were made, who spoke the blazing stars into existence, who clothed this planet with life, without whom was not anything made that was made, empties Himself of His glory, disappears from the halls of heaven, and takes on human form in the womb of a Hebrew girl.

When that baby is born, it's not superhuman, not half God and half man, but a true Son of Man as dependent on air and warmth and his mother's milk as any child ever born.

Never at any point in His life of flesh-and-blood was Jesus anything other than a man. Nor was there any temptation common to man that He did not know.

Today, we see Him travelling the most dangerous stretch of road of His whole life. Jesus is riding through crowds who cheer Him, sing to Him, praise Him, almost worship Him.

"Hosannah to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

Had Jesus allowed the slightest trickle of glory to leak into His heart, His mission would have been ruined.

Jesus lets those praises roll past without allowing His head to get turned the slightest degree. His heart doesn't beat one bit faster. His temperature doesn't rise. He arrives at the temple steps and gets off that animal the same meek, lowly, obedient, God-fearing man He was when He started out.

- You think Jesus raising the dead was a heavy miracle.

- You think feeding 5000 with five loaves and two fish was marvelous - and it was.

But the most astounding thing Jesus ever did, up to that point in His life, was to ride through that admiring, praising, awe-struck crowd and remain unspoiled. Could you and I do it?

Jesus was able to ride through that crowd and not take even a millionth of the glory for Himself because His heart was set on one thing: HIS CROSS.

"I have come not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me."

And the will of the Father who sent Him was that He should lay down His life for the sins of the world. And because His heart was set on going to that Cross, there was only one kind of glory that interested Jesus - His Father's glory!

"What shall I say, 'Father save me from this hour?' But for this cause came I to this hour. Father glorify thy Name!"

So Jesus rides along that Ridge of Admiration with His eyes on the Cross.

And when the admiration ends - as it always does, and when their hosannas turn to sneers and cries for blood - as they always do,

when He finds Himself all alone in the Valley of Defeat - He still keeps going,

because the urge that drives Him from within has nothing to do with human praise or blame. His one desire is to bring glory to His Father by getting to that Cross!


- when Jesus finally hangs there with nothing but shame to crown His head,

- when it appears to even His closest disciples that He has lost the battle, He's a failure,

- when His marred, bruised, bloody head drops to His chest limp,

then the glory of God comes to rest upon Him as at no time since the day He was born - not man's glory, God's glory!

Today the Spirit of the Lord searches our hearts with the question: "Whose glory are you seeking?"

It's impossible to follow Jesus and at the same time seek your own glory. If we allow that yearning for glory in our hearts to do its thing, then

when we ride that Ridge of Admiration we get puffed up,

when we descend into the Valley of Defeat we fall apart.

If there's anything we need deliverance from - all of us - continuously - it's this lust for glory.

Maybe we've never been a roaring success. Perhaps there's no danger that there will ever be any admirers to shout "Hosanna!" to us. But there is not one of us who isn't infected by the craving which grabs at every little straw of human praise that blows our way.

Today, Jesus offers us the cure - the only cure there is – "Here", He says, "Take hold of this. Keep hold of it, and you'll be free from lust for your own glory. It looks very much like the one I carried. But it's not. it's your cross. It's the cross the Father wants you to carry."

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me."

Where do you think Jesus took up His cross? When they laid it on Him outside Pilate's judgment hall?

Jesus took up His cross in the wilderness before He ever preached a word or performed a miracle. Jesus picked it up and carried it every day. Every day He got up and reminded Himself that there was only one reason for Him to be here - to lay down His life.

Here I am, Father - to pour myself out.

That was His cross!

What a blessed change comes over your life when you start to carry your cross.

1. When you carry your cross your goal, as far as the world is concerned, is failure. That sets you free from the "success syndrome".

What happens to you when you get to your destination with that cross? Do the crowds cheer?

Do they come with T.V. cameras and make a documentary on you as you die a hero's death?

- They shake their heads.

- They spit in your face.

- They pull up their collars, turn their backs and walk away.

If your Lord's cross was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, do you think your cross is going to impress them?

Knowing this - you can get on with your business and forget about trying to convince your friends that you're a success.

2. When you carry your cross, God's glory becomes your joy not your glory.

Somehow the very holding of that cross fills you with a desire simply to please God and see His name glorified. And when those thoughts of your own glory come sneaking into your mind, you recognize them for the cheap, sick, devilish lies they are, and you'll find yourself saying,

"But I didn't come here to seek my own glory."

"Father, glorify your name!''

It will fill you with joy to see God's will being done anywhere, by anybody.

It will make you glad to see that fellowship on the other side of town prospering and flourishing and growing in God's holiness and love.

It will fill you with praise and thanksgiving when some servant of God comes along with the words that you didn't have and reaches that soul you couldn't reach and brings it to the King. You won't get jealous.

3. When you carry your cross, you're free from the fear of man.

What can anyone possibly do to you when you're on your way to your own crucifixion?

If they kill you before you get to what you thought was to be your Golgatha - praise God!

If they insult you and spit on you along the road - praise God!

If they misunderstand you and forsake you sooner than your script calls for it - praise God!

God is being glorified.

If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Jesus doesn't push that cross on you, or chain you to it, and beat you and make you carry it. You can walk away from your cross and let it lie there.

But, if you want to be free from glory-lust and live for the glory of God alone, then of your own free will you will take up that cross and carry it.

There are people reading these words who haven't even touched their cross yet. And there are people who have carried their cross only at certain special times.

Jesus says if we would come after Him we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him - daily.

            God help everyone of us to take hold of our  cross.

            God help us to pick it up and carry it right now,

            and follow Jesus with joy that will still be there

            when the hosannas die away.