The Path of HumilityMatthew 20:25-28Theme: Servanthood.This week’s lessons remind us that following Christ requires that we learn to be humble.
LessonI return to the disciples, where this week’s lessons began. In the closing days of Christ’s earthly life, 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 revolves. 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 of 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 Samaritans who 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. Study Questions
What finally changed the disciples, especially James and John?
What biblical evidence do we have that James and John both stopped living for themselves and began living for Jesus?
What prevented the disciples from missing out on the blessings of humility?
PrayerOur Father, we thank you for the example of Christ and the power of Christ to do in us that which we realize is not possible in ourselves. This life that Christ holds forth is the exact opposite of anything we want. And we go our own way, and we get all the problems connected with that. And somehow, we don’t even stop to recognize that we’re on the wrong track. But we thank you that by your power, you’ve turned your people back. You instill in them a new Spirit so they become new creatures. You cause them to bow low before your cross – seeing themselves in the light of that cross – knowing that it’s our sin that puts the Son of God there, and then you enable us to rise up, knowing that we’re loved, and go out in humility to serve others in the name of Christ in this world. Our Father, bless us to do that. Enable us to do it. Impell us to that service. For we pray it in the name of Jesus who gave himself for us. Amen.