Jesus Christ and Humility
Adapted from a sermon by Aun-Quek
[W]ho being the brightness of His glory and the express image
of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had
by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty
on high. (Heb 1:3)
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews
tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ is no ordinary man. He is in fact God who
came in the flesh to purge us of our sins. Through His death on the cross,
those who believe in Him can be saved. During Jesus’ life on earth, He set an
example of humility for His disciples to follow. Since He humbled Himself, God
raised Him from the dead, and He now sits on the right hand of the Majesty on
If a Christian learns the humility
of Christ, God will exalt him, and he will have a throne with Christ in heaven.
Hence, Jesus told His disciples, “learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in
heart” (Mt 11:29).
Displayed Humility by Emptying Himself
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being
in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but
made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a
bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. (Phil 2:5-7)
Since Jesus Christ had come in the
likeness of men, He kept His duty as a man and did not exalt Himself to be God.
This was the humility of Jesus before God, and this is the humility that all
Christians must have.
The One True God is the only
self-existing One, and all things come from Him (Col 1:16). We should not commit the mistake of Adam
and Eve who failed to humble themselves as Christ did. Being tempted, they tried
to be equal with God (Gen 3:4–6). As a consequence, they lost their blessings
and honor as children of God.
In fact, they were the first couple
created by God. They should have been more assured than anyone else that God is
the Creator and they should have kept to their proper domain as created beings.
Lifting themselves up to be equal with God was pure arrogance, because the
Creator and the creature are not on equal footing.
Similarly, the angels who
became proud sinned against God (Jude 6). Like man, angels are created beings.
Yet they wanted to exalt themselves to be like God and opposed the will of God
(Isa 14:12–15). Their end is the lake of fire and brimstone, where they will face
eternal torment (Rev 20:10).
Therefore, we ought to understand
what our proper domain is and remain within it, submitting to God’s will. This
requires that we empty ourselves, forsaking our own will if it conflicts with
God’s will. Sometimes, it may seem quite difficult to forsake our personal
rights, interests, desires, and pride. But since Jesus did it out of His great
love for us, His love should compel us to do the same.
DISPLAYED HUMILITY BY SUBMITTING TO GOD’S WILL
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became
obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil 2:8)
Although Jesus Christ asked the
heavenly Father to take away the bitter cup, He humbled Himself before God and
willingly submitted to do God’s will (Lk 22:42), even
to death on the cross. This was an important display of Jesus’ humility before
God created the heavens and the
earth; all inhabitants of the world ought to stand in awe of Him (Ps 33:6–8).
God spoke and it was done. He commanded and it stood fast. Nothing that exists
came into being by itself, by the natural law, or because of cause and effect.
Instead, all things came into being by the word of God and are upheld by the
power of His word (Heb 1:3).
Since we are created by God, it is
only reasonable that we obey and submit to the Creator, because the created
being depends on the Creator to live. We ought not think too highly of
ourselves and refuse to submit to the will of God. This would lead to our
destruction. Take the analogy of a fish. God created fish and placed them to
live in the sea. But if one fish decides to go against God’s commandment and
insists on staying on land, it will not survive. When it dies, we cannot blame
God. Likewise, if we do not listen
to the word of God, like the fish insisting on living on land, our end is
death. By disobeying God, we have sought our own death. This
simple analogy tells us that we have to live according to the will of God. Jesus
tells us that, “[m]an does not live by bread alone, but by every word that
proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). His words are command, and they are
life (cf. Jn 6:63, 12:49–50).
Jesus’ humility and submission to
God’s will led Him to even lay down His life on the cross for us so that we
could receive the grace of salvation. Initially, this grace was meant for the
Jews. But because they resisted God’s word, and rejected Jesus, we have
received this grace and have been grafted onto the true vine. Let us humble
ourselves and submit to do God’s word in our daily life.
DISPLAYED HUMILITY BY TAKING THE FORM OF A BONDSERVANT
[W]ho, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be
equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a
bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. (Phil 2:6–7)
When Christ humbled Himself to
take on the form of a man, He chose the lowliest of all possible, that of being
a bondservant. As such, the humility of Christ would truly put to shame the
humility that any of us can have. We dare not boast that we are humble because
our humility cannot be compared with Christ’s. The humility of Christ also
silences the pride in our heart. There are many who have lost themselves in
pursuit for power and status, and there are others who try to defend and keep a
certain appearance before men. However, Christ took on the form of a
Thus, all Christians ought to
learn from the humility of Christ. Even though we are not bondservants, yet
before God, we willing take on the form of a bondservant. This means that we
have to learn to become a slave to God, to have the spirit of a bondservant of
God. What sort of spirit or attitude is this?
Do Everything for God’s Glory
bondservant does everything to glorify the master and not to bring glory to
himself, for such was Christ.
I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You
have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with
the glory which I had with You before the world was. (Jn 17:4–5)
tells us that everything He did in the world was to glorify the heavenly
Father. As Jesus’ disciples, we have to consider whether our actions glorify
God or ourselves. The prophet Isaiah teaches us that the will of God is for us
to bring glory to Him:
Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I
have formed him, yes, I have made him. (Isa 43:7)
We may ask, “Why would God want
man to glorify Him?” In fact, God wants His chosen people to enjoy and
experience the glory that He Himself has. Since we are called by God’s name, we
are His children and part of His body. So when God is glorified, we share in
His glory. Out of His unconditional love, He lifted up lowly men like us to share
in His eternal glory.
Do Not Expect Any
Does he thank that servant because he did the
things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have
done all those things which you are commanded, say, “We are unprofitable
servants. We have done what was our duty to do.” (Lk
As faithful servants, we do
everything according to the master’s command. Should the master thank the
servant? Jesus said, “When you have done all those things which you are
commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty
to do. '” We dare not ask for any reward or wait for the master to thank us,
because we are merely servants and our work is our duty.
In the past, we were sinners. But
Jesus Christ, the majestic and honorable God in heaven, took the form of a
bondservant in order to save us from eternal condemnation. Jesus was a man
without sin and yet He served without seeking for reward. Shouldn’t we who were
once sinners serve even more diligently without expecting any reward?
If we realize just how unworthy we
are of such grace, we will not only be filled with gratitude, we will serve Him
willingly and faithfully all the days of our lives. We will cherish our status
as servant of the Lord and view this as something glorious.
Submit Yourself to
A bondservant will submit himself
completely to the master. This is what Christ has done.
[W]ho, in the days of His
flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries
and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of
His godly fear. (Heb 5:7)
When Christ prayed to God to
deliver Him, He also said, “Father, not according to My will, but according to
Your will.” He was willing to submit to God’s will and give up His own will
because He knew that He was God’s servant and that God’s will is the best. As a
result, Jesus’ prayer was heard. Jesus has taught us how to offer godly prayer,
which requires that we forgo our own will and subject
ourselves fully to God. Yet in many instances, unknowingly, we doubt God’s
will, and we pray to God to fulfill our will instead.
Even Jesus had to suffer to learn
obedience. All the more, we, who are His disciples, need to learn from His humility
to obey God as a bondservant obeys his master. Such submission can complete us
so that eventually we will be raised to sit together with God.
Now there was also a dispute
among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said
to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those
who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' "But not so
among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the
younger, and he who governs as he who serves.
When Jesus told His disciples of
His impending arrest and death, one would have expected them to be sad.
Instead, this solemn news sparked off a dispute among them on who would be
considered the greatest after their leader’s departure!
Jesus was still with them, and
they were already fighting for the greatest position. How disappointed Jesus
must have felt! The disciples’ dispute demonstrated that they did not
understand Jesus’ statement, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to
serve” and, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and
those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' But not so
among you” (Lk 22:25–26).
Let us not follow the ways of the
world to seek for positions of power to lord over others. In the house of God,
the opposite is true. The greatest should be the servant of all. Our Lord has
set this example for us. We have to learn from the humility of Christ to take
the form of a bondservant and be willing to serve others.
Wash Each Other’s Feet
A bondservant washes the feet of
others. On the night of the last supper, Jesus laid aside His outer garment,
girded Himself with a towel, and did something that alarmed His disciples. He
knelt down to wash their feet, a task that was normally performed by servants.
This was why Peter said to Jesus,
“You shall never wash my feet,” for Jesus was his master. Yet Christ took the
form of a bondservant and willingly washed the disciples’ feet, even the feet
of the one who would betray Him. This is what moves us, and this is the
humility of Christ that we need to emulate.
we may be willing to wash the feet of those whom we owe a great debt, but there
are feet of others that we are not willing to wash. When Jesus Christ washed
the disciples’ feet, He even washed the feet of Judas Iscariot. In the church,
is there anyone’s feet that we would refuse to wash? Who has betrayed us in the
same way as Judas betrayed Jesus? No one has gone to that extent; they may have
only angered us. Thus, we have to learn from the humility of Christ to take on
the form of a bondservant, to forgive, and to love even those who have offended
We must always remember that it is
the devil who teaches man to harbor hatred and to refuse to forgive. On the
other hand, the Lord tells us to forgive others just as He has forgiven us. This
reason alone should be strong enough to motivate us.
STEP INTO JESUS’ FOOTPRINTS OF HUMILITY
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, left
His heavenly glory to come into this world in the likeness of man. Out of all
human conditions, He chose the lowliest—that of a humble bondservant. Moreover,
He manifested His humility by emptying Himself and submitting to do God’s word.
Today, let us learn from Jesus’
humility by allowing His great love to continuously inspire us to empty
ourselves and submit to His words, acknowledging God’s will as superior to our
own will. This requires us to forsake our personal interests when we serve God.
It also demands that we look out for the needs of others, prioritizing them
Finally, let us learn from Jesus’
spirit as a bondservant whose thoughts, words, and deeds always glorified God,
and who served with true gratitude. He served without expecting any reward, and
He obeyed God in all things. If we follow Jesus’ footprints of humility, we
will eventually fulfill God’s purpose in our life and learn to love others just
as Christ has loved us.