One of the highest expressions of God’s love is His meekness and servanthood. As the glory of God is seen plainly and perfectly in the face of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6), we are beckoned in to see God’s meekness, humility, and servanthood throughout every moment of His life. Jesus was fully satisfied in taking on flesh and emptying Himself of so great an exaltation (Philippians 2:5-8). It was not something He resentfully or grudgingly achieved. He never had nor will ever have regrets about becoming poor for our sake (2 Corinthians 8:9). From the most mundane of days to the climax of His death on the cross, out of Him proceeds the raging torrent of God as a servant.
One of the lesser spoken of but most stunning acts of Jesus in His life overflowing with humility is found in John 13:
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.””
(John 13:1-8 NKJV)
This is a scene where we must linger long and drink deeply of the servant heart of Jesus. The power of this scene comes in understanding some of the details of Hebrew culture. In a day where honor and status symbols filled the consciousness of society, touching and washing soiled feet was always delegated to a menial slave. Rabbis, leaders, and dignitaries would never take such a position if they wanted to maintain their honor before the people. John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Lord, made himself lower than even the unskilled slaves saying that he was not even worthy enough to loose Jesus’ sandal strap (John 1:27). But in this scene, Yahweh incarnate is descending into the depths of humility. How is the eternal Son of God and the Lord of glory now performing the task of a lowly slave?
Humility such as this is foreign to the fallen human heart. But when we actually begin to behold and meditate on the life of Christ, the Servant of Rulers (Isaiah 49:5-7), something dramatic happens - we actually want to be like Him. What we behold is what we become.
But we all…beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory...
(2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV)
The unbelievable truth is that God has made the self-disclosure of His own heart the very agent of transformation for us to be like Him. We aren’t left as one trying to be humble with our own might. The wisdom and kindness of God’s heart in this is that we can know Him while we are changing, not just after we are changed. The only way we can become like Him is to learn from Him:
Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart… (Matthew 11:29 NKJV)
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve… (Mark 10:45 NKJV).
As we approach another holiday season, may we remember the meekness and humility of the Lord. There is no greater invitation we can say “yes” to that leads to our transformation into His likeness.
“If you cannot imagine the God of Genesis 1 as seen in the face of Christ appearing in your house today for the sole purpose of taking out your trash, you don’t know the God of the Bible.”
– Stuart Greaves