Humility. Freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble. This is Miriam-Webster’s definition. The Oxford dictionary defines humility as, a modest or low view of one’s importance; humbleness.
Today our reading is from John 13 and this chapter is packed full of great lessons from our Savior, Jesus. In my opinion, the greatest of these lessons is humility and forgiveness.
I would be remiss if I did not reference one of the new Testaments most famous verses, John 13:34-35, where Jesus gave us a new commandment, “to love one another, as I have loved you.” Rather than write about these verses, my heart was pulled in a different direction for this journal, although Jesus’ commandment was profound for the future of the world and Christianity.
In verses John 13:1-17, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. The act was incomprehensible for His disciples to understand. He was their Teacher and Leader. Why would He wash their feet?
Jesus knew the time was quickly approaching when He would be arrested and killed. In verse 10, Jesus said “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet but is completely clean; and you are clean but not all of you.” In verse 14, Jesus said “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Verse 15, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
In verse 21, Jesus said “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” He knew that Judas was the one that would turn Him over to the Roman authorities. Jesus also predicted one of His most trusted disciples, Peter, would deny knowing Him three times before His death. Knowing all of this, Jesus still washed both of their feet.
Jesus washed the feet of His disciples to symbolize how removing the dirt and grime from their feet would cleanse them, not just to clean their feet in the moment, but to symbolize the “washing away” of their sins. Jesus set the best example ever of HUMILITY and forgiveness. The very men that He trusted as His confidants for the past three years would turn away from Him, and He still forgave them.
What can we apply from Jesus’ example to our lives? Who in our lives have done wrong to us? Who do we hold a grudge or harbor resentment against?
The most important message from these verses is that Jesus promises and commits to the forgiveness of our sins. Even though we are sinners, we continue to do bad things, and we turn away from the Word and Scriptures, Jesus’ death on the cross provided you and I forgiveness of our sins. Jesus’ death and resurrection “washed away” all the sins of mankind. Knowing of His own death and the betrayal caused by the very people He was saving; He still forgave them.
In a recent sermon, Gary Hamrick of Cornerstone Chapel spoke about the paradoxes that Jesus used to remind us to live with HUMILITY.
- To be GREAT, you must be LEAST. (Matthew 20:25-28)
- To be STRONG, you must be WEAK. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
- To be WISE, you must be a FOOL. (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)
- To RECEIVE, you must GIVE. (Luke 6:38)
- To FIND your life, you must LOSE (Matthew 16:24-25)
Forgiveness requires HUMILITY. Sometimes we learn humility when we experience a life-changing event. Sometimes we are forced to show humility when we realize we are not in control of every circumstance and situation and how things turn out. Perhaps humility is an emotion that can bring about a profound recognition that we must acknowledge that we are not always right, or we must admit that we are wrong.
Honestly, HUMILITY is the most difficult emotion for me to embrace. Life requires drive to survive, the will to succeed. Life requires perseverance to thrive in difficult situations. But many times, the emotions evoked in these moments’ drive us to attempt to take control of situations ourselves rather than “giving them to God.” The harder we try, the worse it gets. The more we push, the farther problems may be from being resolved. The HUMILITY to relinquish control, to forgive, the willingness to relent, and the confidence to accept situations as they are and let them play out, according to God’s plan, not mine. That takes HUMILITY.
I pray that I can be reminded of these verses in the moments I need them. I pray that this message provides you reflection and assurance that your Savior loves you and forgives you. I pray that we all have the same ability and HUMILITY that Jesus did, in the exact moments and times we need them.
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