After looking at how humility is the secret of our salvation and the way in which Jesus models humility in his life, Murray focuses on Jesus’ explicit teaching on humility in the fourth chapter of the book.
Murray comments briefly on a series of verses on meekness and humility from Jesus before drawing summary comments later. I found it helpful simply to read those verses one after another:
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven….Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3, 5)
- “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
- “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.'” (Luke 9:46-48)
- “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'” (Matthew 20:25-28)
- “The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11)
- “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
- “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
- “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
- “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (Luke 22:26)
Let me ask you a question: which of these verses stands out to you most and why?
For me, I was once again hit between the eyes by the way Jesus models servanthood in the upper room with His disciples by washing their feet. I have read this passage many times throughout my life, but it never ceases to amaze me. Jesus is not taking the way of upward mobility in his ministry, but the way of selfless service. Certainly the crucifixion shows this to us, but it is even more striking here to me in this tender, personal moment that He celebrates with His disciples. May God make me more like this!
Murray reflects on this reality at the end of the chapter in a passage that is so striking that I want to simply include the whole paragraph here:
Brethren, here is the path to the higher life. Down, lower down! This was what Jesus ever said to the disciples who were thinking of being great in the kingdom, and of sitting on His right hand and His left. Seek not, ask not for exaltation; that is God’s work. Look to it that you abase and humble yourselves, and take no place before God or man but that of servant; that is your work; let that be your one purpose and prayer. God is faithful. Just as water ever seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds the creature abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless. He that humbleth himself – that must be our one care – shall be exalted; that is God’s care; by His mighty power and in His great love He will do it.
Men sometimes speak as if humility and meekness would rob us of what is noble and bold and manlike. Oh that all would believe that this is the nobility of the kingdom of heaven, that this is the royal spirit that the King of heaven displayed, that this is Godlike, to humble oneself, to become the servant of all! This is the path to the gladness and the glory of Christ’s presence ever in us, His power ever resting on us.