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Copyright for the journal © 2005
M. S. Thirumalai
THEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS : THE HUMILITY OF CHRIST
Patricia M. Pope
Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force,
withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:15, NIV)
EXAMPLES OF CHRIST'S HUMILITY
We are all well aware of Christ's humility if we look no further than
the fact that He allowed Himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter
as prophesied by Isaiah (53:7).
While this is the most obvious example of Christ's humility found in Scripture, there are others such as the passage cited above in which Jesus' miraculous feeding of the 5,000 is recounted.
When everyone had eaten the meal that was provided for them with a mere five loaves of barley and two fish, Jesus instructed the disciples to gather up the leftovers.
The people were amazed at what they had just witnessed--Jesus feeding so many with so little. It was then that they decided He must be the one whose coming had been foretold - "the Prophet" (v. 14).
After perceiving that the crowd wanted to seize Him and make Him their king, Jesus went away to a mountain by Himself. The Greek word translated here as "seize" is harpazo, which can also mean to snatch or lead away forcibly. So determined were the people to have a king, that they were willing to take Jesus by force. Yet, Jesus would have none of it. Instead, He withdrew from them. The other Gospel writers simply say that Jesus went away to pray.
WHY NOT BECOME A KING?
Now, could Jesus have easily given in and become king? Of course, but
instead He remained focused on the Father's will, which was first and
foremost to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). In fact, Jesus would
later tell Pilate that His kingship was not of this world (John 18:36).
Although in due time, Jesus would come to be revered as the King of Kings,
God's plan did not include nor would it be fulfilled by Jesus grasping
for power and taking glory for Himself by obtaining an earthly kingdom.
Thus, rather than short-circuiting the Father's plan, Jesus chose to go
away before the people could force Him into kingship.
TEMPTING AND TANTALIZING!
How unlike you and me. Although we may never be forced into a position
of such high standing, how often are we presented with opportunities that
are appealing - a better paying job, a chance for a little bit of limelight,
a relationship that we've longed for or even something illicit in the
form of "…the mild seductions of friends, the defiant pride of the rebellious
heart." Whatever the case may be, when enticing opportunities are presented,
how often do we withdraw to the mountain, so to speak, and pray?
THE QUESTION IS, HOW DO WE RESPOND?
No matter what we are faced with, whether good or evil, the question
becomes, how will we respond? Do we even consider forgoing what we want
if it is not in the Father's will for us or do we instead rationalize
our choices until we convince ourselves we are acting in our best interest?
Sometimes we even go so far as to speak for God: "I know this is God's
will", when in fact we have either not consulted Him or waited for His
This is an age old dilemma. Recall the scene in the garden: Adam had been instructed
that he was free to eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of
the knowledge of good and evil. God told him that if he did partake of
this particular tree, he would die. Thus, God made His will known to Adam;
it was for his protection that God admonished him about this particular
tree. Yet, at the opportune moment, the serpent questioned Eve and led
her astray: "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the
garden'?... You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For
God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will
be like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 2:15-17; 3:1, 4-5). After seeing
how good the fruit looked and that it had a positive benefit (it was good
for food), Eve took some, rationalizing that it couldn't possibly be bad
for her. She then gave some to Adam who knew better than to eat it, and
unfortunately, the rest is history.
FINDING LOOPHOLES GOD IS NOT AWARE OF
If truth be told, we often do the same thing. Something is presented, and already knowing right from wrong, we decide that it wouldn't be so bad for us. Somehow we think we've found some loophole of which God is not aware. Like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we see what appears pleasing to the sight and potentially good for us. What we don't always see (or choose not to see) are the pitfalls and so we forge ahead throwing caution to the wind. Very seldom are we willing to give up that which seems so appealing in order to tread down a seemingly rougher road, or at the very least, one that is less alluring. Yet, this is exactly what our Savior did. Not only would Jesus pass up the chance at having an earthly kingdom, He did so knowing that He would face persecution and a horrible death on a cross.
STAYING THE COURSE
In fact, more than once Jesus faced the temptation to chuck it all and
bypass the cross. In the desert, Satan tempted Jesus with an offer of
having all the kingdoms of the world if only Jesus would worship him (see
Luke 4:1-13). However, for Jesus and His followers so much more glory
awaited them on the other side of His agony, that He stayed the course.
We, on the other hand, when in the heat of the moment, seldom think of
long-term consequences and benefits. We simply live for immediate gratification
and for that which appeals to our baser instincts, rather than living
for that which is far greater - an eternal reward that far outweighs any
earthly treasure we might obtain. This reward however, is not just reserved
for the hereafter. It's not just some pie in the sky theology, but instead
it is a reward that can be enjoyed now if we would simply live for God
rather than for ourselves.
LOOK AT THINGS FROM AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE
As Christians, we must learn to look at things more from an eternal perspective
or else we will find ourselves constantly making decisions that are temporal
and fleeting at best. "Good times and bad times lose their power over
us when we see life from an eternal perspective." Thus, rather than being
controlled by our emotions, we allow ourselves to be controlled by the
Spirit of God, in whom there is no change (James 1:13-17).
Let us purpose to observe Christ's life more closely and choose to emulate Him by becoming mountain people who withdraw to pray and discern God's will for our lives. As a result, we may pass up or postpone having earthly treasure, but how much better is that which is stored up in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21). These are the things which are incorruptible and upon which no price tag can be placed.
© 2005 by Patricia M. Pope
All Scripture quotations are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
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NO MORE SPECTATORS: The 8 Life-Changing Values of Disciple Makers, by Mark Nysewander, A Brief Review | SHINING BRIGHTLY FOR CHRIST - ON THE BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS, PART II? | RAISING UP DADS, BRINGING UP CHILDREN | FAITH IN GOD | THEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS : THE HUMILITY OF CHRIST | GUARDED BY GOD | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR
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