Today is Maundy Thursday. This is the day in the holy week in which Christ served his disciples the cup and bread after observing the Passover meal. He broke it and served it and proclaimed that it was his body, given for his disciples. He took a cup and proclaimed that it was his blood poured out for the forgiveness of the sins of many. John's gospel tells us that, after they had eaten, he also washed their feet in a gesture of humility. He stooped with his shirt around his waist and served them...he touched their feet, a very lowly act to their near-eastern sensibilities and customs. He commanded them to do this also and gives them a new commandment that his followers love one another in the same way that he loved his followers. He continued teaching that night and journeyed with them to a garden to pray, knowing exactly what the night would hold. What makes these events amazing is that Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He was sinless and perfect. He was before all things and ...well, just let the Holy Spirit through Paul make it clear:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation;
16 because by Him everything was created,
in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.
18 He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have first place in everything.
19 For God was pleased [to have] all His fullness dwell in Him,
20 and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself
by making peace through the blood of His cross—
whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Col. 1:15-20 HCSB
It is this amazing man, who occupies the first place in EVERYTHING who condescended to serve others. This is utterly amazing. This majestic God-man washed the feet of people. He healed people. He smiled at children. He had compassion on the crowds of people. He hung on a tree to reconcile people to God. He poured out his blood for people. While I marvel in astonishment at this truth, I would have to admit that I don't think about it enough. I don't dwell on the implications of Christ's humility. The picture of the strong showing his strength in weakness doesn’t enter into my self-seeking attitudes very often. We see this “great reversal” throughout scripture from the exodus to Hannah’s Song in 1 Samuel, to David and Goliath, all the way to the song of Mary in Luke’s Gospel. Paul spoke about God using foolish things to confound the wise so that they will be shown to be the true fools by their unbelief. God will exalt the humble, but the proud will be made low. Paul understood humility and this great reversal and with that understanding and he also wrote to some other Christians and said:
5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.
7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave,taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form,
8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—even to death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 HCSB
This humility is so important. We are exhorted to follow Christ’s lead and wash the feet of our brothers and sisters.
Many wonder why marriages between Christians fail. I know that I am a stronger head of my house when I display humility and service.
As a member of a church staff, I often wonder about how dissension crops up in the church body and I can’t help believe that a failure to have this understanding of Christ-likeness is the culprit every time.
Many Christians wonder why the world doesn’t come rushing to the spring of living water and flood the doors of churches all across our nation and world because of the infinite value of our savior. Many Christians think, how can people just throw their lives away, and repeat things like, "It takes more faith to believe there is no god than to believe in God!" The real reason is that they don’t see real humility in us. They see no advantage in Christianity and hey, why should they? The bible tells us that they don't discern or understand spiritual things, so how are they to truly know that they are wasting their life and missing out on the bread of life and the well that flows with living water? Humility is important because Jesus taught us that the world would recognize us by how we care for each other. Humility can be explained as beautiful evangelistic selflessness.
If you are interested in following Christ’s example of humility, there is a great little book by C.J. Mahaney that uses scripture to help transform our minds into the likeness of Christ. It is called Humility: True Greatness. I highly recommend it.