The Humility of Jesus

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13–17)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
–Colossians 1:13–14

The fullness of time had arrived for the inauguration of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and as our example he does it with humility. He begins by being baptized. John the Baptist–being filled with the Spirit–protests, knowing that the Messiah is the flawless One and Only. John knows there is no need for Jesus’ repentance. He has nothing to repent from. Yet Jesus abases Himself as an act of association with all of the sinful people whom He came to save, setting an example of humility. Surely He knew that he deserved highest honors.

Jesus’ actions and John’s protest are much like a time later in His ministry when He wraps a towel around Himself and washes His disciple’s feet, this time to the protestation of Peter:

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:3–9)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Jesus’ gracious lowering of himself in these two situations is so surprising, so deep, and so mysterious, it takes both John the Baptist and Peter totally off guard. At the time of Jesus’ baptism, John’s ministry was at its height. He had obtained a great name and was respected, yet he remained humble in the presence of the Master. It is always important for us to remember that if God chooses to use us and others begin to take note and applaud–it is Jesus in us that they are applauding, not us. We often take ourselves much too seriously, improperly elevating ourselves. It is easier to be humble when we remember that we are saved by grace alone, that we are dearly loved and belong to God, that we have life only to please Him. Jesus surely did not give much weight to man’s opinion. He was fully aware of what was in a man.

“It is only the fear of God that can deliver us from the fear of man.” -John Witherspoon

As Jesus begins his earthly ministry we see the presence of the Trinity in a special display of glory. Heaven applauded and affirmed the work that was about to begin and to which Jesus enters into with firm resolution. Sin had shut up heaven and Christ’s work would now open it to all who would believe. The Holy Spirit had been present in the beginning of Creation and now we see here His presence at the beginning of this new world which Jesus has come to offer. Isaiah had prophesized:

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on himthe Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:1–2)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
–Colossians 1:13–14

God speaks His Words of confirmation and pleasure of His Son as well. Jesus reconciling the world to God is a joyful message indeed. The Spirit manifested itself in the likeness of a dove, but God the Father is manifested by a voice. How endearing and comforting that must have been to our Lord’s ears. God appeared to Jesus by reiterating His relationship, He was His Father, and by affirming His mission, “with him I am well pleased.”

Take It to Heart

“The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, the Helper, the Guide, the very presence of God living in you. The great promise of God in prayer is this: We ask God for the gift–He gives us the Giver. We ask God for the supply and He gives us the Source. We ask God for the money and He doesn’t give us cash; instead, so to speak, He gives us the bank … He delights in giving us Himself. The resources of heaven are ready and waiting for the people of God who desire to make much of him in this world.” (David Platt)