Theme: Begin with God
This week’s lessons talk about the need for every Christian to be marked by humility, and that the sins that fight against this humility can only be taken away by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose own humility took him to the cross for us.
Scripture: Matthew 20:20-28
So I say again: If we are to learn humility (which we must do, if we are walking in the path marked out for us by Christ), we must begin with God and see everything in relation to Him, rather than in relation to ourselves. That is, we must acknowledge and embrace the fact that this is a God-centered, and not a man-centered, universe.
I return to the disciples, the point from which this study started out. In the closing days of Christ’s earthly life, as He was attempting to prepare them for His departure and instruct them in what they would need to know to function as His disciples after He was gone, they were arguing among themselves about who should be greatest. The reason is that they were thinking of themselves, rather than about Him. He was about to make that sacrifice around which the meaning of all reality centers. The uplifted cross was to be the focal point of history.
But the disciples? They were not thinking of that. They were thinking about Christ’s earthly kingdom, and they were jockeying for the most prominent places in it. They were doing everything I have described. They were showing their pride, pretending to be what they were not, guarding their ground, and struggling to emerge either at Christ’s right hand or His left. They were trapped by these things, so much so that they missed what Christ was saying and almost missed the greatest event of all. But they did not in the end, because Christ prayed for them and sent His Holy Spirit to change them and awaken them to the truth.
It is a beautiful thing to see. The disciples were all guilty of this fighting spirit, according to the Gospel accounts. But among the many guilty, James and John stand out as most guilty because of their compliance in the efforts of their mother to get them the first places. Yet think what happened to them! At one time Jesus called them “Sons of Thunder,” no doubt because of their arrogant, boisterous attitudes (Mark 3:17). On another occasion they wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy a village of the Samaritans which did not receive them (Luke 9:54). But they changed when they finally got their minds off themselves and onto Jesus.
We are not told much about James, but he must have changed. We never hear of him struggling for prominence after the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord; and he eventually died for Jesus, being executed by King Herod (Acts 12:1, 2). John lived to be a venerable old man, known at last as the “apostle of love.” He was living humility when he said, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16). If Jesus can turn a “son of thunder” into an “apostle of love,” He can conquer pride in us and teach us humility. He needs to, if we are truly to be His disciples.
In thinking about themselves and their position, what truths were the disciples ignoring?
From the lesson, what did Christ do on their behalf, so that they might increasingly have his mind in them?
Application: In what ways can you see the Lord working in your life in this area of humility since the day of your salvation? Praise him for the presence and power of his Holy Spirit within you.