JESUS TEACHES THE HUMILITY OF DISCIPLESHIP
Text: Matthew 20: 25-28
The Merriam- Webster Dictionary defines humility as quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance. It simply means modesty, humbleness, meekness, diffidence, lack of pride, lack of vanity etc…
One who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrine of another: such as Christianity.
Jesus Christ has shown throughout all ages to be the epitome of humility both in speech and in conduct. In spite of the splendour and comfort of His heavenly environment (Genesis 1:26), He chose to humble Himself and He came down to this wicked world as Mediator between God and mankind in order to reconcile God with sinful mankind. (1st Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 9:15). Apostle Paul puts it more succinctly as follows in Philippians 2:5-8 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross”
Indeed, Jesus Christ is God in His own right and yet, He did not put up any air of pride or of importance at any point in time. Long before He was even born into this world of sin, Prophet Isaiah prophesied of Jesus as follows in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given. And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace”. Despite the fact that He is God, He decided to lead by example and He agreed with His Father to be sacrificed for an unrepentant, ungrateful and sinful world. John 3:16 says “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. Jesus Christ in His humility decided to pay the ultimate price for the sin which He NEVER committed Hebrews 4:15; 1stPeter 2:22; 1st John 3:5). Instead of appreciating Jesus Christ for dying for them and indeed for the entire world, the children of Israel ridiculed, humiliated and struck him. They even spat on him when they hung Him on the cross. (Matthew 26: 67). In spite of the callous and inhuman treatmentmeted out to Christ, He still prayed to God in Luke 23:34 as follows “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do”.
THE RESPONSE OF JESUS CHRIST TO THE REQUEST OF THE MOTHER OF ZEBEDEE’S SONS
In Matthew 20:20-21 the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus to ask for a very selfish, unreasonable and greedy request, namely, that the Lord Jesus should allow her two sons “to sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom”. However, Jesus promptly responded by informing her that it was not in His place to grant such a request but that it was meant for those for whom it had been prepared by God Almighty. Thereafter, Jesus Christ counselled His ten displeased disciples against imitating the worldly rulers who were in the habit of lording it over their subjects. Rather, He instructed the disciples to learn the virtue of servanthood for which He displayed severally before them both in words and in deed in His life time. Jesus taught them as follows: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord in over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave. Just as the Son of Mandid not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).
The core lesson in our discussion this morning therefore easily revolves round the legendary and uncommon humility of our Lord and Master, Jesus the Christ. In His lifetime, Jesus Christ amply displayed numerous acts of humility and equally taught His disciples the same principles.
We will now consider some of such examples
EXAMPLES OF ACTS OF HUMILITY BY JESUS CHRIST
- THE BAPTISM OF JESUS CHRIST (Matthew 3:13-15)
Jesus Christ came from Galilee to be baptized by John the Baptist but he tried to prevent Him from being baptized by him adding “I need to be baptized by You” and You are coming to me? Even though Jesus Christ is God, yet He humbled Himself and gladly and willingly submitted Himself to John the Baptist for baptism. John the Baptist confessed at another occasion that “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose (John 1:27) John the Baptist further acknowledged the superiority of Jesus Christ over him when he said “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Ordinarily,John the Baptist expected that it was him (John) who should go about looking for Christ to baptized him. Instead, Jesus Christ humbled Himself and set out to look for John and hence the latter was taken aback by such a disarming gesture.
- JESUS CHRIST HAD NO ROOF OVER HIS HEAD
In Luke 9:58, Jesus Christ stated “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head”. Jesus Christ was not materialistic and he lived an itinerant life. He had no house of His own compared with the religious leaders of our time who live in opulence and splendour with several mansions and with the latest aircraft to match! Jesus Christ trekked from one place to another in His life time without even owning a donkey which was the easiest means of transportation at the time. The irony of living such a Spartan lifestyle is that Apostle Paul clearly taught us in Colossians 1:16 “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him”. Even though He owned the whole world He lived a life of poverty.
- JESUS WASHES THE FEET OF HIS DISCIPLES
In John13:1-17 we see a practical example of how Jesus Christ demonstrated the virtue of humility whenHe openly washed the feet of His disciples. Again, we must remember that Jesus Christ is God in His Own right, yet He stooped so low to wash the feet of His disciples who were mere mortals. There is no doubt that the disciples would have been stunned at this act of humility and condescension, that Christ, their (and our) Lord and Master, should wash the feet of His disciples, when it was their proper work to washHis. But when Jesus came to earth the first time He came not as King and Conqueror, but as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. As He revealed in Matthew 20:28, He came “not to be served but to serve, and give His as a ransom for many” The humility expressed by His act with towel and basin foreshadowedHis ultimate act of humility and love on the cross.
As a matter of fact, Jesus’ attitude of servanthood was in direct contrast to that of the disciples, who had recently been arguing among themselves as to which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24). Since there was no servant present to wash their feet, it would never have occurred to them to wash one another’s feet. When the Lord Himself stooped to this lowly task, they were stunned into silence. To his credit though, Peter was profoundly uncomfortable with the Lord washing his feet, and, never being at a loss for words, Peter protested, You shall never wash my feet”.
Then, Jesus said something that must have further shocked Peter. “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me” (John 13:8). This prompted Peter whose love for the Saviour was genuine, to request a complete washing.
When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told them, and by extension all Christians as well, that “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). As His followers, we are to emulate Him, serving one anotherin lowliness of heart and mind, seeking to build one another up in humility and love. When we seek pre-eminence, we displease the Lord who promised that true greatness in His Kingdom is attained by those with a servant’s heart (Mark 9:35; 10:44). When we have that servant heart, the Lord promised, we will be greatly blessed (John 13:17).
THE VISIT OF JESUS CHRIST TO THE HOME OF SIMON THE LEPER
As a further testimony of the humility of Jesus Christ, it is recorded in Matthew 26:6 of how against all expectations, He took time off and visited the home of a leper. In those days and even until recently in our clime, lepers were regarded as outcasts of the society and nobody would want to associate with them. But Jesus Christ ignored such unhealthy discrimination when He visited Simon the leper. The lesson to learn from His visit is that we are all equal before God whether physically challenged or not. Galatians 3:27-28 says “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”.
His visit to the leper further demonstrates the compassion, love and empathy which Jesus Christ has for the lowly placed in the society.
JESUS KEPT COMPANY WITH TAX COLLECTORS AND SINNERS
All through His lifetime, Jesus could not be tagged with the “holier than thou syndrome”. Even with His divine nature, He associated with all and sundry thereby giving every one that came across Him a sense of belonging. He never discriminated based on class as we know it today. Jesus Christ was unassuming, simple and accessible to all. For example Jesus interacted and move freely with tax collectors who were regarded as very corrupt officials of state as well as with sinners. (Luke 15:1-2; Matthew 9:10-11)Jesus also visited Zaccheus the tax collector Luke 19:1-10
No wonder Apostle Paul who is fond of imitating the Master (1st Corinthians 11:1) borrowed a leaf from the example and lifestyle of Jesus by mixing freely with all and sundry in the hope of winning the lost souls to the kingdom of God. In this regard, Apostle Paul had this to say in 1stCorinthians 9:19-23 “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without the law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak, I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake that I may be partaker of it with you”.By the same token, we should carry the gospel to the doorsteps of those who are still swimming in sin and are completely living in the dark without the pure and true Gospel of Christ. In the course of evangelism, we are bound to come across all manner of people who are still groping in the dark and they desperately need the Gospel which is capable of saving their souls. As Christians, we need to emulate Jesus in every aspect of our lives especially as far as humility is concerned.
JESUS CHRIST WAS NOT INTERESTED IN WORLDLY OR EARTHLY HONOUR
The Jewish authorities wanted to forcefully install Jesus Christ as their earthly king but He vehemently rejected the gestures. Apostle John stated categorically in John 6:15 that “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone”.
Furthermore, Apostle John emphatically quoted our Lord and Master as saying thus “I do not receive honour from men” John 5:41.In spite of the fact that Jesus Christ detested worldly honours, He was humiliated, spat upon and mocked as “King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37).We should be mindful of how we accept earthly honours that may clash with our Christian beliefs.
We should at every opportunity ask ourselves, what will Jesus say or think about what I am about to do? We should have the fear of God. We should live as we teach exactly after the pattern of our Lord and Master, Jesus the Christ. We should emulate the character and example of Jesus Christ just as Apostle Paul imitated Him in 1st Corinthians 11:1. Since Jesus Christ is our Example in everything (John 13:15; 1st Peter 2:21) we should ensure that on daily basis, we weigh ourselves on the spirituals scale. Let us humble ourselves because those who exalt themselves will certainly be abased. (Matthew 23:12).
TAKE AWAY TIP
Jesus said in John 13:15 “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you”. Brethren, let us strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ in all our ways!
Thank you for your attention.
Bro. P.S. Egure (Elder),
Church of Christ,
8th Sept. 2019