How Jesus Modeled Humility
- Debbie Przybylski Intercessors Arise
- 2015 29 May
“The revelation of His glory includes seeing One so high (transcendence) who went so low (condescension) to bring us so near (redemption) because we are so dear (Bride). The Most High God went so low because of such great desire to partner with us... We are awestruck by His power, overwhelmed by His humility, and made confident by His love.” - Mike Bickle
If we want to be people of prayer we must learn to walk in the humility of Jesus. Jesus was humble. Perhaps this was His most outstanding characteristic. Imagine if you were God—equal with the Father, sharing glory with Him, having every privilege of being God—and then you became a man and laid aside all those privileges. "He is the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15). Imagine becoming the servant of all and being God hidden in the obscurity of humanity.
His humility was expressed most when He became a man and died on the cross. He never insisted on His rights and privileges to be honored, understood or viewed rightly, but he emptied Himself of His reputation. He was content to be seen as ordinary and did not seek esteem. Think about embracing a life of weakness, poverty, shame, homelessness, rejection, and pain. We realize this when we study Isaiah 53 and see Jesus as the suffering servant. Jesus had lowliness of heart.
“We are by nature preoccupied with our image and being recognized for our good traits. Jesus embraces a position where everyone totally underestimated Him and His abilities. When they saw Him they saw nothing to distinguish Him. He was totally ordinary in every sense.” Mike Bickle
It’s easy for us to say we’re humble and broken until the real test comes, and we are put in a humbling position. We wonder, “Why aren’t we recognized?” It doesn’t feel good. We react and don’t like it. We want to be important and are often so proud. But Jesus became nothing during His life on earth, and He gives us His example so that we may follow in His steps. In fact, the only character trait that He proclaimed about himself was His humility. Jesus didn’t put on humility to just accomplish a task on earth. Humility is part of His eternal nature. As we understand His humility it should produce admiration, inspiration, and confidence in us. In His lowliness of heart we find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29).
I remember one of my first experiences on the mission field. I joined a ship with 300 others, mainly young people, and we were going to change the world! The name of that ship was Doulos. The word in Greek means “servant” or “slave” and we were all learning to be servants for Jesus. I’m sure at that time it hadn’t sunk in just what that word would mean in actual experience. We all went on the mission field with ideas of grandeur—perhaps we would reach millions for Christ or start an orphanage or Bible college or become a great evangelist. But when we arrived, to our surprise we were assigned to “great” jobs—cleaning toilets, chipping paint, washing dishes—and other similar high-ranking services.
My first job on that ship was serving food in the dining room. I remember some of the initial struggles I went through as we served food again and again in South America without any apparent letup. We’d have to clean up as fast as we could and get ready for another group of up to 300 individuals hungrily coming to eat. It was quite tiring to say the least, and the problem with having a lowly job is that others actually treat you that way, and it didn’t feel very good at the time. The mission field wasn’t as glamorous as I had always imagined.
But working in the dining room made a big impression in my life.
Shortly after joining that old ship built in 1914, we sailed to my country and one of the students from my Bible college came on board to eat in our dining room. When he saw me he shockingly asked, "What in the world are you doing here?" After all, I was a Bible college graduate and should be doing something better than washing dishes and serving food. But by that time I had gotten a considerable victory in my heart, and I excitedly told him about how I was learning about humility and how to be a servant. I don’t think he was very impressed.
A couple of years later I was visiting our mission base in England. After eating the noon meal in their dining room, I carried my tray over to the place where all the dirty dishes were stacked. To my complete astonishment, there was my Bible school friend behind the counter washing dishes. I looked at him in surprise and said, “What in the world are you doing here?” He sheepishly looked at me. He was learning the important lesson of humility, and it’s a lesson we must learn again and again all throughout our life.
God gives grace to the humble—He hates pride. He can only use the humble. We must embrace this most important lesson and learn to cloth ourselves in this noble garment. Let’s learn to walk in humility and serve like Jesus did (Matthew 20:28). Jesus showed us His core identity when He took off His robe and girded Himself with a towel, and washed His disciple’s feet (John 13). Jesus declared that a servant is greatest of all (Matthew 23:11). We read in Matthew 20:26-28:
“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In 1986, two ships collided off the coast of Russia in the Black Sea. Hundreds of passengers lost their lives as they were thrown into the icy waters. Through investigating the cause of this disaster, they found that it wasn’t a technology problem or even the thick fog. Human stubbornness and pride was the cause of the problem. Each captain could have steered clear of each other. They were aware of one another’s ship nearby, but neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield. So they collided and hundreds of passengers died as a result. Their lack of humility resulted in a disaster.
Intercession is not a recognized occupation. Prayer is usually unnoticed by the crowds. It’s hidden—nobody knows about our hours in the prayer room. It feel’s lowly—it’s humbling because right in the middle of the prayer room you are confronted with the example of the humility of Jesus. You begin to taste something very important about Jesus, and you see your own lack—your pride and sin. Self rises up when unnoticed. We all want to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.
Jesus became nothing for you and I so that we could be set free. We must do the same and learn to embrace the cross. He is our perfect model. He was obedient and God lifted Him high and honored Him. The nations will see Jesus’ humility in His victorious triumph at His second coming. Philippians 2:8-11 says:
"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that JesusChrist is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
God puts a high price on humility of heart. He answers the prayers of the humble.
- Are we willing to lay aside all our earthly fame, in order to gain the greatest prize—Jesus Himself?
- Are we willing to be lowly in this life and simply pray unnoticed—no fanfare, no recognition, sometimes even being misunderstood?
- Are we willing to walk humbly like Jesus in order to gain so much more in eternity?
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” - (Luke 14:11).
Humility is at the foundation of what God is, does, and blesses forever. May we take a good look at what it really meant for the King of Kings to be born in a humble manger, live a humble life, and die a selfless death for us. He pursued meekness and stooped so low for each of us. May the reality of the humility of Jesus change our lives forever. Let’s learn to walk in humility and daily cloth ourselves with the beauty of lowliness. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
“The most humbling thing one can do is to look upon how Jesus responded to suffering and mistreatment. His whole life was ordered around the attribute of meekness. It was his greatest pursuit. From the moment He was born the Father was contemplating His own humility in the person of His Son. Love would be openly displayed as Jesus went lower and lower. Anyone who truly looks upon the man Christ Jesus and His meekness will be left staring at the great mystery. How can One so strong be so tender as He stoops so low? Looking upon Jesus is the great sanctifier to areas of pride and anger in the human heart.” - Allen Hood