How important are the teachings of Jesus in the world today?
The writer of the book of Hebrews began with these words, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Who 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 on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Hebrews 1:1-3
On the mount of transfiguration Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (exclamation point!) Matthew 17:1-13
How often are we like Peter, thinking of what we can do for God. He wants us to listen and hear and obey. Like Peter, our human nature of pride excludes our paying attention when we should.
Jesus is quoted in John 6:63; “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
He was the Word of God in human flesh speaking the words by which we needed to live. He was that seed planted in the ground, to die, to bring forth new life in us. That seed must be planted in fertile soil. The heart filled with the humility of Christ is the only medium in which His life lives and grows.
As important as Jesus’ example of humility are His teachings on humility. We skim over the things that seem less important, especially when they are not a main emphasis of the churches teaching. Andrew Murray points to this in his writings in Humility. (PDF)
In the fourth chapter we have the doctrine of humility spelled out very clearly by Jesus; and it behooves us to study these, to memorize them and to meditate on these until they are part of our daily lives. We will see that these teachings are not the usual things that we learn, even in church.
From last month’s study and our meditations on Isaiah 53 we should come into this chapter with grateful hearts for Jesus’ humility, His suffering and His sacrifice for us. We should be willing to daily look to Him as the author and finisher of our faith. If He is our Lord and Savior, having died to take our sins upon Himself, to make us righteous before the Father, we should be continually studying His words and His teachings. As is the master, so is His servant. If our faith is real we will be seeking His kingdom and His righteousness first and foremost in this life.
As we remember in previous chapters we are talking about relationship ~ relationship to God through discipleship in Christ. Humility, as we have been learning, is the root of our life in Christ. Without it there is nothing to be gained by what we say and do. We must read, and we must remember what Jesus still teaches today through the written word of God.
The Doctrine of Humility
Jesus is the only true teacher. We cannot look to man for this doctrine, but only to Jesus Christ. Let’s examine the main teachings from Murray’s nine points in this chapter.
From Matthew 5:3-5 we understand that the “poor in spirit” may be poor physically, but the meaning has to do with the heart and the spirit of a person. This person knows that there is nothing good in him. He, unlike Simon Peter, (before He understood Jesus’ teachings) has nothing to give, but must constantly look to God for all things. The “meek” are not looking for anything for themselves, but all for God and others. God will give heaven and earth to these.
There are two examples that Jesus uses.
1. In Matthew 11:29 He is the example. It is in His own Spirit of meekness that He gives us rest for our souls. Peace with God is through our humility in Christ.
2. In Matthew 18:4 Jesus uses the example of a little child as the “greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” This “little child” would have been quiet in the middle of these proceedings, listening; in awe of Jesus. “This little child” was still dependent.
There are examples of those who needed humility.
1. His disciples often disputed about and asked for the prominent places in His kingdom. The “chief among” them, and the “greatest among” them would be the “servant. Even as the Son of Man came to serve.”
His teachings were those of the kingdom of heaven. We who are His, His children, His people, are His servants. Our glory is to be His servant, as we practice servanthood here on the earth.
2. The Pharisees were used to the chief places. In Matthew 12:11 Jesus was emphatic; “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” And in Luke 14:7-11, in the parable of the guest who would be invited to come up higher He said, “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” He spoke the same thing after the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. (Luke 18:14) “In our worship of God everything is worthless that is not pervaded by deep, true humility toward God and man.”
The doctrine of humility is all about the kingdom of God. Unbelievers live in their own worlds, but we are called with a holy, high, and heavenly calling to live with and for God, not for ourselves. The new heart that is ours in Christ is the new wineskin that receives the new wine of Christ’s life and His humility. (Ezekiel 36:25; Luke 5:38)
Murray points out that we don’t think low enough; perhaps, that one may think humility is not becoming to a man. Can we be too humble? We must receive Christ as He is and live by His teachings here if we are to live with Him eternally. We understand by Jesus’ teachings that true humility is the only way and means to heaven; the reality is by being the servant of all.
“Humility, as it is the mark of Christ the heavenly, will be the one standard of glory in heaven. The lowliest is the nearest to God.” If we think of any glory at all, it will not be until we enter the portals of glory with Christ; and then it will be the glory of being His servant.
“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:” Hebrews 12:25
“There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Jesus Christ is not only the mediator but also the means of all life. In Him we see our lack and need of humility; and more than this we see and receive from Him what He is and teaches us to be. God’s word came to us in Christ, and does not return to Him void, but fulfills in us His servants all that He planned in our creation and redemption. As we long and pray for His spirit of humility we look for its precious fruit according to His promises.
“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Dear Father, I praise you for your commands of what you planned for us to be, and for the promises that come with them. Rule in our hearts and give us such a longing for Christ and His teachings that we discipline ourselves by His words; knowing the authority of your word commanded in us by your Holy Spirit. Make us to know the joy of humility. In our service to you and others let nothing be too menial or vexing.
“Of your great goodness make known to me and take from my heart every kind and form and degree of pride; and awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make me capable of your light and your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe;
Here Lord I give myself away; Tis all that I can do.
(Alas!, and Did My Savior Bleed ~ Isaac Watts 1707)
Related Article: Humility in the Life of Jesus ~ Chapter 3