Jesus is always asking the question he asked his disciples: “But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?” As A.W. Tozer put it, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” A wrong or low view of God will elicit a lukewarm or even rebellious response to God. A right and true view of God will elicit a fervent and passionate response to the awesome and passionate God who is and we will love Him with all of our being. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) So as we seek to know Jesus Christ as He truly is, we will grow in our knowledge of God.
The humility of Jesus is so amazing as we now know Him as God Himself, the second Person of the Trinity and co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Yet when He became a Man and became like us in every way “yet was without sin” (Hebrews 2:17, 4:15), He showed us how to respond to God through His example of absolute dependence on God and absolute submission to God, the attitude and obedience that is the only right response we as creatures should have with our Creator. Jesus’ humility is seen beginning with his birth in a stable and as a vulnerable baby and in His early life as he submitted Himself to Mary and Joseph. He grew up and lived in the obscure, remote and even despised town of Nazareth (John 1:45-46; Isaiah 11:1), was a carpenter’s son and known as a carpenter Himself, a common laborer (Mark 6:3 – versus rabbinical training and a religious leader) and, with the exception of his appearance and words at the temple at age twelve, no other words spoken by Him are recorded until age thirty. Even Jesus the God-Man was trained up by His Father through suffering (Hebrews 2:10 and 5:8) and submission to human parents yet He showed His zeal and commitment to His Father’s will even as a young boy as He said, “I must be about My Father’s business.” (See Luke 2:39-52)
After Jesus’ thirty “hidden years” His humility is seen in His humble entrance into public ministry through baptism thus identifying with sinners in the waters of Jordan at the start of His ministry. Jesus’ baptism was His coronation day, the public presentation of the long hoped for Messiah of Israel, yet His coronation was not in a palace but in the waters of Jordan as He led all sinners to repent of trusting in their own righteousness and trusting in God’s saving grace alone. "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him." (Matthew 3:16) The symbol of a dove was both a symbol of deliverance from God’s judgment as seen in Noah’s day (Genesis 8:8-12) and a symbol of the sacrifice used by the poor – pointing to the humility of Jesus who identified with the poor and outcasts and became “the sacrifice”.
From a babe in a manger to an obedient son of Mary and Joseph to identifying with sinners at His baptism and during His three years of ministry we hear Jesus saying: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." (John 5:19, 30) Jesus always lived the “not I but God” kind of life as He depended on God for everything, obeyed God in everything and gave God the glory for all He did. (See John 5: 41; 6:38; 7:16, 28; 8:28, 42, 50; 14:10, 24) As a Man Jesus made Himself nothing, even dying a criminal’s death on a cross, so that God could be all and receive all the glory. "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." (Philippians 2:5-11)
Jesus lived a life of humility before God and taught us to do the same: “ The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) "The greatest among you will be your servant." (Matthew 23:11) “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:13-17)
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) Humility brings “soul-rest”. Jesus had no personal agenda to promote. His only desire was to honor His Father (not impress people – see John 5:44) by loving and serving others. He was the most humble Man to ever walk the face of the earth, but also the most powerful Man who ever lived for humility engenders spiritual power. (E.g., see Philippians 2:5-11 above) Pride, pretension, artificiality and self-promotion makes us “weary and burdened.” Jesus’ “yoke” was obedience to the will of God and since He completely trusted God’s power and love to bring about what was righteous and best, His yoke was “easy and light” as ours will be as we take His yoke of humility upon us.
“ Humility is the soil from which all Christian graces flow and the indispensable condition for fellowship with Jesus.” (Andrew Murray) Murray defines humility as unceasing dependence on God (“ the Son can do nothing by himself”) and absolute submission to God’s will (“Nevertheless, Thy will be done”). Humility is not self-denigration but self-forgetfulness. As we fix our eyes on the Lord’s purposes and His ability (not ours) and Jesus’ example of servanthood and begin to serve God by serving others we forget about ourselves. "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." (Philippians 2: 3, 4) Yet we must learn humility the way our Lord did: “He learned obedience from what He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) “Our love for God and our humility before Him is revealed in our everyday relationships with others. (Ephesians 5:21) It is in our ordinary daily life and conduct that we really show and see what we are, what spirit/attitude really possesses us. Let us look on every person in our daily experiences who tries or vexes us as God’s means to bring about Jesus’ humility in us.” ( Murray) Some of the signs of humility are a teachable spirit, a willingness to seek wise counsel, and a willingness to submit to authority in church, family, business and government. (Hebrews 13:17; Proverbs 15:22; Ephesians 5:22-6:9; Romans 13:1-7)
We must see all of life as a gift from God and nothing that we posses or accomplish is to our credit but all is from Him and for His glory . "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" ( 1 Corinthians 4:7) "You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)
Humility – unceasing dependence on God and absolute submission to God’s will. How dependent and submissive do you feel you are in your relationship with the Lord in your day to day activities, relationships, trials and blessings? How does this relate to your prayer life (dependence on God) and acknowledgement of the Lord to others (giving all glory and honor to God)?
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
Len and Kristen
P.S. Attention men in the Atlanta area: Come and bring a friend to hear Joe Turner, America’s corporate magic communicator on Friday, May 20 at Piccadilly. Contact: [email protected]