Most of us know that Jesus was humble.
Humility in the “Jesus sense” does not necessarily mean, as it does typically for us, modesty or lack of self-interest. Certainly, Jesus said some pretty provocative things about himself:
- “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
- “If I give you water, you won’t ever thirst again.”
- “Come to me everyone who is weary, and I will give you rest.”
- “Knock me down, I dare you, and I will rebuild again in three days.”
In any other mouth, these would not be modest words.
Jesus wasn’t humble in the sense that he never put himself at the center of the world. No. Jesus’ teaching, in fact, demanded that everyone arrange their orbits around him. He constantly reinterpreted Israel’s dearly held beliefs and rigorously followed traditions in light of himself. So Jesus’ humility wasn’t about removing himself from the salvation equation. It was about emptying. About giving.
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very natureof a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
For Jesus, humility meant not exploiting his God-ness. He relinquished the rights and honors of his deity to experience and redeem what it means to be human. He rides a donkey. He washes his disciples’ feet. He suffers the betrayal of friends and submits to the religious and political authorities.
Jesus was a humble man in the sense that humility meant giving up fleshly controls. He was an endless giver of himself.