“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
“The beginning of greatness is to be little; the increase of greatness to be less; the perfection of greatness is to be nothing.” (D.L. Moody)
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I have read this passage many times over the years and I am astonished that in a moment when when most of us would have been more concerned with ourselves, Jesus selflessly humbles Himself……meeting the needs of others…… and yet just hours away from when He would soon be arrested we see that He arranged that His disciples would not be taken into custody. While on the Cross, He made sure that John the Apostle would take care for His mother, Mary. Finally, we see Jesus reaching out to the dying thief next to Him and and saves him. It just blows me away that in the last hours of carrying the world on His shoulders, in the midst of all the pain and the suffering, right down to wire, Jesus is still conscious of that one soon to be disciple….hanging on a cross next Him! Jesus was a perfect picture of what humility motivated by absolute love looks like!
The dictionary defines Humility as : “A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness:
The apostle Paul gives a picture of Humility and absolute love in 1 Corinthians 13:35.
“Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.“
In other words, Absolute humility results in absolute love. Love cannot do anything else but to be selfless, sacrificial.…..self-giving.
Very sadly in today’s culture these kind of characteristic have been replaced with “preoccupation of one self”, and has quietly made its way into our churches.
There was a very popular pastor who wrote what would become a best selling book where he proclaimed that “humanity’s real problem is not sin at all, but a tragic lack of self-esteem, people don’t think highly of themselves.” In other words, there is a trend in today’s modern churches where people come to be served instead of to become servants. Humility and love means we look more like Jesus, the more we take on His characteristics the clearer He becomes to those around us.
Jesus Christ love and humility are both on clear display the night before His crucifixion. The very apex of definition was seen in Chapter 13 of John’s gospel showing Jesus’s passion for serving others, and not Himself.
“It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.
The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist.
After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “You shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me“
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” for He knew who was going to betray Him, and that was why He said not every one was clean.
When He had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call Me `Teacher’ and `Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am….now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you….I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.Now that you know these things, go out and do them.” (John 3:1-17)
I love the picture that the Apostle John paints with as few of words as needed that only absolute humility can generate absolute love.
John 13 reveals a turning point in Jesus’s earthly ministry, on the first day of the week entered Jerusalem triumphantly with enthusiastic shouts from the people, Passover had begun. By Friday, tomorrow, He will be publically rejected and condemned to die.
Today, Thursday would be the day before Jesus would go to the Cross, in less than 24 hours Jesus would bear the weight of sins He never committed……
For now, Jesus waited until everyone was seated and supper was served and then with an unforgettable act of humility that most likely stunned the disciples, “He rose up”.
With calmness and majesty, in total silence, Jesus stands up, walks over, picks up the pitcher, and poured water into the basin. He removes His outer robe, belt, and most likely His inner tunic, leaving Him clothed like a slave. Next, Jesus puts a towel around His waist and kneels to wash the feet of His disciples.
It wasn’t the actual washing of the feet that was the message, it was the humility Jesus showed doing it. The act of doing the menial things….for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the Gospels, there wasn’t one sacrificial service Jesus did for others that He was unwilling to perform, and the same attitude needs to be in us, in our actions. Why should we be any different? Are we greater than the Lord? I think not.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is it messenger greater than the one who sent him, if you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” ( John 13:16-17)
“We might think of humility as a form of weakness, but it is actually the very opposite. Humility is connected to meekness.
The Bible speaks of humility and meekness, it means surrendering our will to the will of God. Philippians 2:3 tells us, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself…… If you want to experience real joy, then put the acronym joy into practice: Jesus. Others. Yourself.Put Jesus first. Put others second.Put yourself third.Think about someone in need and start doing something for that person. Then watch how joy will appear in your life as a byproduct.“(Pastor Greg Laurie)
Maybe this Holy Week we can garner strength in our relationship with Jesus by doing what He modeled, humility and love through our serving people around us, then, we can look back on this Easter as one that we learned by doing, giving, serving in humility and love.
Developing a servant`s heart… if Jesus can step down from His glory in heaven in order to become a mere man, if Jesus humbled Himself to be a slave who would willingly wash the feet of twelve undeserving sinners, what do you think we ought to be doing?
What Jesus demonstrated was true love, and true humility.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”(John 15:13)