Bible Articles

Bible Articles

Jesus: Example of Humility

If anyone ever had a good reason not to be humble it was Jesus. He was superior in every way to everyone around Him and He had no fault or weakness of which to be ashamed. Yet, scripture holds Him before us as the ultimate example of humility.

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 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 bondservant, 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.   (Philippians 2:1-8 NKJV)

Humble Circumstances

Jesus was the only person who was ever in position to choose where and to whom He would be born. He chose to be conceived by a virgin, giving grounds for charges of illegitimacy (John 8:41). He chose a mother who spoke freely of her low estate (Luke 1:48) and an earthly father who as a carpenter was so very poor that he had to take advantage of the optional sacrifice permitted to those under humble circumstances (Luke 2:24). He chose a barn as His place of birth, a feed trough as His crib, and shepherds as His first visitors. He grew up by choice in a town so despised that a proverb asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Who of us would have made such choices?

Humble Obedience

 Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.  (Hebrews 5:8 NKJV)

At the age of 12 He was already “about [His] Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). Doing His heavenly Father’s business meant being subject to His humble earthly parents throughout His early years (Luke 2:51). Through all His life, He never failed in His perfect submission to God.

“…  I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (John 5:30 NKJV)

Baptism requires humility.  It is difficult to imagine a king or the CEO of a very large corporation being. This may account for the common aversion to baptism or for the substitution of sprinkling for immersion. Those who came to be baptized by John the Baptist came “confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:6), and this may partially account for the Pharisees’ rejection of His baptism (Luke 7:30). Yet the sinless Son of God was not too proud to journey from Galilee to be baptized by John in the Jordan. No wonder John objected, but our Lord’s answer revealed His motive:

But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him. (Matthew 3:15 NKJV)

Imagine Him by Whom “all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth” (Colossians 1:16) “in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:13) so hungry that commanding “that these stones become bread” was a temptation.  And why was He there? 

“Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matthew 4:1-3).

Humble Ministry

Before beginning His recorded ministry, He Himself worked with His hands as a carpenter (Mark 6:3). As He pursued His life’s work, He owned no home of His own (Luke 9:58). He was cared for by His disciples. Except on one occasion, He is pictured as traveling either by foot or by boat. And, “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:2).

He associated comfortably with those who were least esteemed by His peers: Samaritans, Gentiles, the poor and downtrodden, the sick and handicapped, publicans, women and children. Association with these was beneath the dignity of the proud religious leaders of that day, but Jesus was their friend. He never left the impression that He considered Himself above them.

Jesus had no ambition for titles. He had every right to be known as “The Son of God” and He did not reject that designation, but when He spoke of Himself, 80 times it was as “the Some of Man.”

Perhaps as many as 60 years after the event, the apostle John marveled at the humility displayed by Jesus at the last supper: 

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself … and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (John 13:2-5)

Humble Death

Washing the disciples’ feet was but the beginning of a 24-hour period of increasingly astonishing displays of humility:

On His face in the Garden, offering up “prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death (Hebrews 5:7), yet adding, “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Standing before pompous, petty, yet powerful little rulers, saying not a word to defend Himself.

Climaxing it all by humbling Himself and becoming “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8), the most horrible, painful, shameful death that depraved human minds could devise.

Conclusion

No wonder Jesus could say of Himself without boasting, “I am meek and lowly (humble) in heart” (Matthew 11:29). No wonder those who were rich, proud, or powerful found it difficult to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him!

O Lord, “Let this mind be in [me] which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5)