Sunday, August 10

The full extent of humility

Last week at Quest we continued our discussion about humility. This time, we looked at a couple of well known stories. First we talked about Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and then we discussed Jesus feeding of the 5,000. While these stories are talked about often, we don't always look at them from the perspective of humility. However, once you start thinking about how you can see humility in action in these stories, you can see it at work on several levels.

Here is some of what we talked about:

  • Jesus is humble in the way that he responds to his mother's request. When Mary learns that the wedding feast is out of wine, she knows that Jesus can take care of the problem. Jesus responds by asking why she has come to him because his time had not yet come. (John 2:4). While he seems to be indicating that it isn't time for him to start his public ministry yet, he honors his mothers request. This demonstrates humility because he is willing to do what Mary asks, even though it might not match his timing for doing things publicly.
  • This is a big miracle. Jesus isn't just turning a pitcher of water into wine. He has the servants fill 6 jars, each holding between 20 and 30 gallons. In other words, he is creating somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons of wine. Yet he does it very quietly. The only people who knew what had happened were Jesus, Mary, the servants who filled the water jars, and Jesus' disciples. Almost no one even knew that there was a problem with the wine running out, let alone that the problem had been fixed. Even if he didn't want to actually broadcast the miracle, Jesus could easily have said something like "I've got this taken care of, you don't need to worry about it any more." That is what a lot of people would have done. It is easy to want people to know what we have done, even if we don't want them to make a big deal about it. But that isn't being humble. Jesus shows true humility. He doesn't even create a miracle that everyone will know about, even if they don't know who did it. Instead, he takes care of the problem in a way that no one will recognize what actually happened.
  • In the feeding of the 5,000, we see a similar thing. Jesus takes 5 loaves and 2 fish, and very quietly turns them into enough food to feed everyone. He doesn't announce what he is doing. He doesn't tell the people who are eating where the food came from. It is only the disciples (and possibly only Philip and Andrew) and the boy who donated the lunch that knew what was going on. We again see Jesus not trying to take any kind of credit for the miracle. Instead, he performs the miracle in a way that people won't know what he had done.
  • Jesus even goes one step further. Once the people figured out what Jesus had done, they recognized that he must be "the Prophet who is to come into the world," and they wanted to make him a king by force. (John 6:14-15). Jesus responds to this by running away from the crowd and withdrawing to a mountain by himself. Here we see humility taken to the extreme. Jesus isn't just trying to avoid public attention for his miracle. When the people respond by trying to force honor on him, he doesn't let them. Often, even when we try to be humble, when people try to make a big deal out of what we have done, we eventually respond by saying "yeah, you're right. It is kind of a big deal." We allow people to give us honor, even though we weren't actually looking for it. Jesus demonstrates the ultimate in humility by refusing even that honor.
Jesus doesn't just act humbly. He is humble. When he does big, impressive miracles, he isn't looking for credit or honor from people. Even when people try to give him that honor anyway, he still refuses it.

Often, even when we are acting humbly, we are still hoping that someone will notice what we have done and to give us some credit for it. The truth is, as long as we are hoping that we will receive credit, even if we aren't actively trying to get it, we are not truly being humble. Yet if we are trying to be like Jesus, we should try to be humble like he was humble. And that means not caring about whether or not we receive credit for the things we have done.

1 comment:

Antoine said...

Thanks for posting this; it's something that affirms what I've been meditating about.