Be Humble Like Jesus!
Various Passages 
 
By Paul Robison

Someone affirms: "The chief glory of heaven, the true heavenly-mindedness, the chief of the graces, is humility" (Murray).  Jesus said in our reading this morning: "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" (Matthew 11:29).  Jesus, the Divine Son, empties Himself and becomes the long-awaited Jewish Messiah.  Now what again does "Messiah" mean?  That's right: Anointed One or King.  But notice, He is a lowly or a meek King.  To be described as "meek" was not a compliment in Jesus' world.  The word humble or meek generally meant a person who was crushed, afflicted, humiliated, and degraded (Piper).  Matthew's gospel helps us to understand better what type of king Jesus was.  Notice what 2:16 states: "Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts ..."  When King Herod got angry, you'd better hold your breath, because something was about to explode.  Matthew 18:34 tells us about another king who was settling debts with his servants: "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him."  Because his servant had failed to show mercy, this king became angry and took away the mercy that he had originally shown to one who owed him a tremendous debt.  Let's look at one more king described in Matthew 22:7: "But when the king heard about it, he was furious.  And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city."  Are you beginning to see a pattern?  All these kings in Matthew get angry, and that anger causes them to take forceful actions.  Now what does King Jesus do after His triumphant entry into Jerusalem?  Well, we might answer: "He became angry and cleaned house at the temple by driving out the moneychangers."  That answer is only partially correct; He did drive out the moneychangers, but He did not become angry.  You won't find the word "anger" in any of gospel accounts.  In fact, listen to what Matthew says: "Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.  And He said to them, 'It is written: My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.'"  Now what emotions do we find in that passage?  That's right: "None is described."  Now notice the very next verses: "Then the blind and the lame came to Him IN THE TEMPLE, and He healed them.  But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did and children crying out in the temple and saying: 'Hosanna to the Son of David!' they were indignant and said to Him, 'Do You hear what these are saying?'  And He said to them: 'Yes.  Have you never read: 'Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise?'"  Did you hear any emotions then?  "Yes, that's right, the Jewish rulers were indignant!"  So, what's the contrast.  Most kings and officials in Matthew get upset easily, but Jesus is a meek King.  And even when Jesus is nailed to a Roman cross after a horrible beating, we do not find Him getting angry and seeking revenge.  Oh, He could have called on thousands of angels to have burned all those involved in the crucifixion.  He had the power, but He doesn't lift a finger against His enemies.  Does this mean that Jesus was a sissy?  Far from it, Jesus was a man's man.  He lived in the outdoors and endured its rains and temperatures, the building materials of His trade were rock and wood so He must have been pretty muscular, and He went without food once for 40 days.  No, He was no sissy.  He was meek or humble; He was like a strong stallion that has been tamed.  You see, meekness and humility is strength under control!  And this brings us to our topic today: "Be humble like Jesus!"  Jesus was and is a King, but this Messiah did not place the emphasis on pomp, power, and force.  Let's look at four unusual aspects of this unusual King today.  Be humble like Jesus!
 
First of all, seek the warhorse of a donkey!  Let's look at Matthew 21:1-8: "Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, 'Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her.  Loose them and bring them to Me.  And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, "The Lord has need of them," and immediately, he will let you send them.'  All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 'Tell the daughter of Zion, "Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey."  So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.  They brought the donkey and colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.  And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.'"  Someone captures what others might have thought on that day with these words: "Your King lacks class!  No one will follow Him.  A king has to have flair and style.  He has to arouse feelings of pride and prestige.  People have to identify with Him.  They must be able to say: 'His prowess is my prowess, and His glory is my glory!'  He has to have dignity and a certain aloofness.  He has to know how to carry his crown and flash His sword in the sun.   The least a king can do for His subjects is ride a spirited steed!  What will you answer when men ask for your king?  'He's over there on that donkey with His sandals dragging on the ground.'  Ha!  I'll lay you ten to one, nobody will ever follow Him" (Rees)!  Did you catch again how Jesus was described: "Behold, your King is coming to you" – Yes, He was a king, He was the anticipated Messiah, but then notice "lowly and sitting on a donkey".  But He is the meek King.  He's not sitting on a warhorse but on an animal often used for trips and bearing burdens (Lewis).  This King is not about to make a great show of force to overthrow the Romans and set up a new government, as the apostles and crowd were hoping.  By making His entrance on a donkey, Jesus shows that war, fighting, and rebellion were not going to be his means of conquest over the Romans.  Seek the warhorse of a donkey!  We don't need to be warhorses—powerful, forceful, able to coerce, able to conquer.  Listen to Jesus' challenge in Matthew 18:2-4: "Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  Someone has noted: "The key to humility is not merely feeling the absence of merit, but feeling the presence of free grace.  Humility is not only like the servant who say, 'I am an unworthy servant'; humility is also like a child at rest in his father's arms. ...  For a strong, self-sufficient, and controlling person, Jesus' demand was devastating. ... Jesus knew that children were not models for imitation in His day.  The reason He chose them is because of 'their powerlessness and their low social standing'.  His demand is that we end out love affair with power, self-sufficiency and rights. ... Trust is probably the main focus in Jesus' comparison between his disciples and children" (Piper).  As Jesus entered Jerusalem, He certainly was trusting in God to help Him conquer through the cross.  The passage saying the lowly King would come riding on a donkey is found in Zechariah.  There's also another passage earlier in that same book that Jesus may have kept uppermost in His mind which God addressed to one of Israel's leaders: "'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (4:6).  Let's learn that bullying and coercion will not get the job done.  Seek the warhorse of a donkey!  Be humble like Jesus!
 
Next, seek the weapon of a towel.  Just several hours before His arrest, Jesus ate the last supper with His disciples.  You recall how John 13 says that Jesus steadfastly loved His disciples.  Then it tells how He takes a towel and a basin and begins to wash the apostles' feet.  Yes, even Judas was included in that washing.  Jesus then said that what He had done should serve as an example to all of the apostles, and they should wash one another's' feet.  He then states that we will be blessed if we put this kind of service into practice.  Who would have ever thought that a towel could become such a powerful weapon?  Seek the weapon of a towel.  Someone made this good observation: "And because Christ had thus humbled Himself before God, and God was ever before Him, He found it possible to humble Himself before men too, and to be the Servant of all.  His humility was simply the surrender of Himself to God, to allow Him to do in Him what He pleased, whatever men around might say of Him, or do to Him.  This is the true self-denial to which our Savior calls us ... It is in this [serving] as an empty vessel which God must fill, above and before everything, in which the conformity to Jesus consists, the being and doing nothing of ourselves, that God may be all. ... The poor, who have nothing in themselves, to them the kingdom comes.  The meek, who seek nothing in themselves, theirs the earth shall be.  The blessings of heaven and earth are for the lowly" (Murray).  Someone else had these good ideas: "Humble people exalt others.  They are primarily other-directed, first upward to God and the outward to others.  They were not like the scribes who oppressed others in Luke 20:46-47. ... Genuine humility grows out of a faith in the greatness of God and a confidence that God will act. ... True humility is able to love because it is genuinely other-directed (1 Cor. 13:4).  Conceited people love only themselves" (Hunt).  You know, the proud don't want others to advance beyond them [because they want to stay on top], and they don't understand grace [because everything to them is based on merit], but the humble have a joyful readiness to do lowly service [and to exalt, to honor, and to lift up others]" (Piper).  There was a Christian organization dedicated to helping the poor.  It was rendering a great service, and many people wanted to join it.  One of these who wanted to help was a preacher.  The man who ran the organization told the preacher that instead of helping the poor, he wanted him to keep the other workers' shoe shined each day.  At first, the preacher felt somewhat miffed.  Then he remembered John 13, and then he prayed, "Lord, if you could wash the disciples' feet, I guess I can shine Your servants' shoes!"  As you can imagine, that man later became one of the leaders in that organization.  Seek the weapon of towel!  Be humble like Jesus!
 
Next, seek the coronation of a thorny crown.  Let's read Matthew 27:27-31: "Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him.  And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him.  When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand.  And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying: 'Hail, King of the Jew!'  Then, they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head.  And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified."  One again we see Jesus' great strength and composure.  Whatever was God's will to be performed, He carried it out with humble obedience.  A few verses earlier in Matthew, the Jews had mocked Jesus in a similar way, but the Romans really went all out to make this a humiliating and shameful experience.  A garrison would have been about 500 soldiers, and here they were making a mockery of Jesus' kingship.  His royal robe was a soldier's cape, His sceptre was a wooden measuring rod about 9 ft. long, and His diadem was a crown of thorns.  In Matthew, others bow before Jesus with respect, but these soldiers bow before Him in mockery, and they greet Him sarcastically as if He were the emperor!  What great control Jesus exhibited in not striking back.  Someone noted the source of His strength with these words: "He was nothing that God might be all.  He resigned Himself with His will and His power entirely for the Father to work in Him.  Of His own power, His own will, and His own glory, of His whole mission with all His works and His teaching—of all He said, 'It is not I; I am nothing; I have given Myself to the Father to work; I am nothing, the Father is all" (Murray).  Seek the coronation of a thorny crown!  Isn't it hard to believe—the Ruler of the universe allows Himself to be insulted and ridiculed for the sake of obeying His heavenly Father's will!  What a meek King He was!  Are we willing to humble ourselves to this degree—to be made fun of, to take physical abuse, to endure social scorn, to offer no retaliation whatsoever?  Someone has observed: The Christian "does not ask, 'How can I have maximum prestige or applause?'  He or she asks, 'How can I do the greatest good for people who need my help, no matter what it costs me" (Piper)?  A thorny crown symbolizes mistreatment, ridicule, pain, injustice and evil.  Part of taking up our cross might be wearing a thorny crown as well.   There was a priest in Italy who became a New Testament Christian in the early '50s.  As a result, he immediately lost his job as a teacher in a seminary, he was ridiculed mercilessly by his peers telling him to leave "the cult group" that he had joined, come to his senses, and return to true mother church, he was called a traitor and treated as an outcast.  He endured his thorny crown, however, and became a great preacher and publisher for the Lord's church.  Seek the cornonation of a thorny crown!  Be humble like Jesus!
 
Next, seek the banner of a meal.  Go to John 21.  You see the chapter begins, with seven of Jesus' disciples going fishing.  They fished all night and caught nothing.  Jesus sees them and tells them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat.  They do so and catch a multitude of fish!  John recognized that it was Jesus, and Peter swims ashore.  Now let's pick up reading in verse 9: "Then, as soon as they had come to land, the saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.  Jesus said to them: 'Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.'  Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, 153; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.  Jesus said to them: 'Come and eat breakfast.'"  Think for just a moment.  Hadn't all these men, except John, abandoned Jesus when He died?  Jesus didn't give these disciples what they deserved—some stern rebukes; He gave them the kind reaffirmations they needed.  That's called grace.  A brother has noted: "The badge of discipleship is love. ... As Christians, we are to love the brotherhood (1 Pt. 2:17).  Love for the brethren should flow naturally from the relationship that we share with Christ" (Dearman).  Another brother added: "What a tremendous experience they had on the lake shore that morning!  This is one of the instances when Jesus as the risen Lord ate in their presence" (Pack).  A breakfast is the sign of Christ's forgiveness, acceptance, and restoration of them all.  What a simple and profound banner.  Seek the banner of a meal.  Someone has observed: "Humble people want to encourage others.  They enjoy seeing others blossom and succeed. ... Humble people are able to make peace, which, in turn, makes unity; they are reconcilers. ... Humility leads to openness, love, encouragement, ... Jesus' teaching on humility is among the best known of His teachings, and yet the power and nobility of humility remains the best-kept secret in the Christian world" (Hunt).  Jesus did not look down on His disciples because He led from the foot of the table, and we should take that same position.  Remember Paul's admonition in Philippians 2:3-4: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."  "Ronald Regan's attitude after the 1981 attempt on his life made an impression on his daughter, Patti.  She said: 'The following day, my father said he knew his physical healing was directly dependent on his ability to forgive John Hinckley.  By showing me that forgiveness is the key to everything, including physical health and healing, he gave me an example of Christlike thinking" (Davis).  Seek the banner of a meal!  Be humble like Jesus.
 
Someone said: "God uses me, but I hope it is others who sees that HE uses me.  The ax cannot boast when the trees are fallen; it is the woodcutter who gets the credit.  He takes the ax, he sharpens it, and he uses it.  When he throws it aside, it becomes only scrap old iron.  Oh that I might never lose sight of this truth" (Brengle in Swindoll).  "The chief glory of heaven, the true heavenly-mindedness, the chief of the graces, is humility" (Murray).  Seek the warhorse of a donkey and the weapon of a towel.  Seek the cornonation of a thorny crown and the banner of meal.  Be humble like Jesus! 
 
Let's pray: "God, we thank You for the tremendous example of Your Son, for the great strength and control He showed in doing Your will.  Father, help us to follow His example.  May we always put Your will into practice.  In Jesus we pray, Amen."
 
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up"  (James 4:10).  Someone has said: "Just as water ever seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds one of His creatures abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and bless" (Murray).  What a high standard of humility we are called to follow!  Submission to Christ in baptism is the place to begin if your are not a Christian.  Asking prayers of the church is the action to take if you are Christian and have been living a life filled with pride.  Be humble like Jesus!  Follow His lead!