by Andrew Murray

Humility in the Life of Jesus

Normally the master sits at the table and is served by his servants. But not here! For I am your servant (Luke 22:27).

John’s gospel opens a window to the inner life of Jesus. Often Jesus spoke of His relationship with His Father. He revealed the motives that guided Him. He shared the heart behind what He did. Although the word “humble” doesn’t appear in John, Jesus’ humility is revealed there like nowhere else in Scripture.

We have already defined humility as a person’s simple consent to let God be everything—a surrender to His purposes. In Jesus we will see the perfect example of humility. Both as the Son of God in heaven and the Son of Man on earth, He took the place of complete submission. He gave God the honor and the glory that are due Him. He lived what He taught: “The humble will be honored.” As the Scriptures say, “He obediently humbled Himself…because of this, God raised Him up to the heights of heaven.”

Listen to these words from John’s gospel where Jesus speaks of His relationship with His Father. Notice how often He uses the words “not” and “nothing” of Himself. The “not I” that Paul uses to speak of his own relationship to Christ is the same heart Jesus expresses when He speaks of His relationship with the Father.

These words expose the deepest roots of Christ’s life and work. They show why Almighty God could perform His mighty work of redemption through Him. They demonstrate how important it was to Jesus to have the right heart towards His Father. And they teach us the inner character of that Life that came to save us and now can live in us.

Jesus became nothing, so that the Father could be everything. He submitted His strength and will completely so that the Father could work in Him. What did Jesus have to say about His own power, His own will, and His own glory, about His whole mission with all His works and teaching? “It is not I; I am nothing. I have given Myself to the Father to work. I am nothing. The Father is everything.”

Christ found this life of complete self-surrender, of absolute submission and dependence on God’s will, to be perfect peace and joy. He lost nothing by giving everything to God! The Father honored Jesus’ trust and did everything for Him, then raised Him up to His own right hand in glory. And because Christ humbled Himself before God in that way, and because God was always near Him, He found it possible to humble Himself before men, too. He was able to be the Servant of all. Jesus’ humility was simply surrender of Himself to God. He let the Father do in Him whatever He wanted. It didn’t matter what people around Him said of Him or did to Him.

It is with this heart and attitude that Christ’s redemption is powerful and effective. It is so that we will have this same Spirit that we have been allowed to share in Christ. When Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him, this is what He means: that we admit that self has no value except as an empty vessel for God to fill. The claim of self to be or do anything must not be allowed for one moment. More than anything else, humility is what becoming like Jesus is all about. We are to be and do nothing by ourselves so that God may be All.

In Jesus we discover what humility means. It is because we don’t understand or seek after it that our own humility is so shallow and feeble. We need to learn from Jesus how He is so meek and humble in heart. He teaches us where true humility finds its strength—in the knowledge that only God is good, and that our place is to yield to Him in perfect submission and dependence. We must agree to be and do nothing of ourselves. This Life is what Jesus came to show us and give us—a Life in God that comes from death to sin and self.

Are you feeling that this Life is too far beyond you, that you could never reach it? Then let that realization drive you to seek the answer in Him. Only Jesus, living inside of us, can live this life of humility in us. If we long for it, let us ask Jesus for His secret. That secret—which is meant for every child of God to know—is that Jesus lived His life as a vessel, a channel through whom the Living God could show the riches of His wisdom, power, and goodness. The energy behind all spiritual growth and all faith and genuine worship comes from a conviction that all that we have comes from God. Then we will bow in deepest humility to wait on Him for it.

For Jesus, humility wasn’t just some temporary emotion that He felt when He thought about His Father. It was the very Spirit of His whole life. That’s why He could be just as humble with people as He was with His Father. He considered Himself only a Servant of God, sent for God’s purposes to the men and women He had created and loved. It was very natural, then, that He thought of Himself as a servant through whom the Father could do His work of love. Jesus never thought for a moment of seeking His own honor or asserting His own power to prove anything about Himself. His whole Spirit was that of a life yielded to God so that God could work through it. It is not until we Christians open our hearts to this revelation of Jesus’ humility that we will start feeling the empty space in our own hearts—the space that humility was meant to fill. When we realize that humility is the only true relationship to the Father, we will hurt over our lack of reality with God. Whatever we may be satisfied with about our “Christian life” must be set aside as nothing until we find Jesus’ humility.

Brother or sister, are you clothed with humility? Ask your daily life. Ask Jesus. Ask your friends. Ask the world. And begin to praise God that in Jesus you have a Way to a heavenly humility that you have barely understood and a blessing that you’ve never really tasted before.

Judges 17:1-13; 18:1-6, 14-21)

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