In the Book of John, there are many descriptions of Jesus and in particular, the character of Jesus. But surprisingly, the words ‘humble’ or ‘humility’ do not appear anywhere in the Book of John and in only 10 times in 9 verses in the whole of the New Testament (MKJV) (emphasis added).
Matthew 18:4Therefore whoever shall humble himself like this little child, this one is the greater in the kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 23:12And whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he who shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Act 20:19serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and many tears and temptations happening to me through the plots of the Jews.
Second Corinthians 12:21lest in my coming again my God will humble me with you; and I shall mourn many who have already sinned, and not repenting ovJesus, character, er the uncleanness, and fornication, and lustfulness which they have practiced.
Colossians 2:18Let no one defraud you, delighting in humility and worship of the angels, intruding into things which he has not seen, without a cause being vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.
Colossians 2:23These things indeed have a reputation of wisdom in self-imposed worship and humility, and unsparing severity of the body, but are not of any value for the satisfying of the flesh.
James 1:9But let the humble brother rejoice in his exaltation.
James 4:6But He gives more grace. Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.
First Peter 5:5Likewise, younger ones, be subject to older ones, and all being subject to one another. Put on humility. For God resists proud ones, but He gives grace to the humble.
Here we can see that there certainly a requirement for us to, as First Peter 5:5 says, Put on Humility, for God gives grace to the Humble. We are also called to be humble toward others, to be in the words of Jesus,like this little child. Yet, while none of these instances of the use of ‘humble’ or ‘humility’ have anything directly to do with descriptions of Jesus Himself; other than it was Jesus Himself who spoke two of the verses, Matthew 18:4 and 23:12.
But the Book of John does have multiple descriptions of the character and actions of Jesus, which while not explicitly stating the words of ‘humble’ or ‘humility,’ characterise and implicitly model them for us. Let us look at them:
John 5:19So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
John 5:30I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
John 5:41I do not receive glory from people.
John 6:38For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
John 7:16So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.
John 7:28So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know.
John 8:26I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”
John 8:42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.
John 8:50Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.
John 14:10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
John 14:24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
A short study of the 11 verses above reveals a simple repeated theme throughout: Something to the effect that:- It is not about Me, it is all about Him. Time and time again, Jesus made it explicitly clear that all was done for the Father, nor for the Son; All glory belonged to the Father, not to the Son; All authority rested in the Father, not in the Son; I do not do that which I want to do, I only do that which the Father wants Me to do.
The relationship is very clearly stated and there is no sense of suggestion of any false modesty or false humility. The Son is in all things and at all times looking to the Father in an attitude of submission and servant-hood toward the Father, acknowledging His authority and respecting His authority.
These verses clearly demonstrate the perfect relationship which existed between the Son and the Father. Without this perfect relationship in all things and at all times, it would not have been possible for Jesus, as Son, to have completed the redemptive work for us, which He undertook.
The nature of the heart of Jesus is made very clear throughout these verses, and it is a heart nature, to which all Christians must aspire; that of a right relationship with God the Father, modelling due respect, fear, love and submission. Jesus gave all power to the Father, in all things and at all times. He never took God for granted, though He knew His will, but reverently sought the Father in prayer, as exemplified in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:39 as He prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” This verse also demonstrates the on-going and continual communication between the Son and the Father and typifies the respect in which God the Father, is held.
Within His life of complete self-renunciation and submission to the Father, Jesus found a like of perfect peace and joy within the Father’s will. In giving His everything to God, He lost nothing; and we gained our all. As Jesus led His life honouring the Father, the Father returned the Son’s trust in doing all for Him, exalting Him to glory at His own right hand.
The life Jesus led and which is exemplified in the verses quoted above, demonstrates that wholehearted submission to the will of God, will be acknowledged by God, both in life on earth, and in the life thereafter. The true and unselfish self-denial to which born-again Christians are all called, does not result in a condition of lack, but in a condition of glorious abundance in the Father. This position, is, however, counter intuitive to the ways of the world and as a result, few appear willing seek the perfect submission of Jesus Christ in their lives. The ways of the world, instead, loom over them and appear more appealing, certainly in the short term; but by the time eyes are opened or minds and hearts brought to focus on the eternal, the worldview habits, are hard set and hard to change.
Jesus gives us guidance on how to life His life style, offering to us not just advice, free of charge. In Matthew 11:29 He asks us to “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” He teaches us how to achieve the humility toward God which will lead us and in which we will find strength saying in First Corinthians 12:6“it is the same God working all things in all.” If and when we find our place, God will work it out for and with us as we yield our all to Him in dependence and resignation. This is the life which Jesus lived and modelled and which His Word imparts to us, with a clear expectancy that we follow, indeed, that we MUST follow. For the life which God offers is one which comes through death to sin and to self.
Yet, as we look at ourselves in a mirror, it is hard to recognise our pride, our self-centeredness, our self-reliance. Our own true humility, or lack of it, is hidden from our own gaze. We are asked to clothe ourselves in humility, but like the Emperor’s Clothes, we need trusting confidants to recognise it for us, or again, the lack of it. In such seekings and endeavours, experience shows that asking our enemies, asking those who do not like us, asking those who do not know us so well, will most likely illicit truthful answers. They will not ‘sugar-coat’ the answers, as our friends tend to do; they will not give the answers we want to hear, but are more likely to give us the answers which are the true reflections of our reality.
We can also ask Jesus. The answer He gives will be true, the only question is, can we deal with His answer, can we accept, His truth of us?
Amen and Amen.