Humility in Christ's Birth
"...This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my Word." (Isaiah 66:2) Jesus is our example of humility. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:5-8)
The entire Christmas story is laid on a foundation of humility. The destination for those involved in the birth and visitation of Jesus was a lowly stable in Bethlehem. Humble people came to humble surroundings. God hand-picked Joseph and Mary to be His Son's earthly parents. They humbled themselves before God and willingly walked on a very difficult path in order to carry and deliver Jesus into the world. Joseph had to lay aside his plans to divorce Mary and take her home to be his wife when the angel of God explained that Mary was pregnant with the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:20) Mary had to live with the shame of pregnancy out of wedlock. She also had to have faith to believe that what the angel of the Lord told her was true. (Luke 1:34-35)
Jesus humbly submitted his life to his Father's plans. He left his throne in heaven to take the form of a servant. He emptied Himself so that He was in a place of entire dependence upon God. This is pure humility! Jesus was delivered and laid in a manger--a feeding trough for animals. He was totally dependent upon the care and nurture of His earthly parents.
Shepherds were considered the low-life of society in Jesus' day. Yet, God opened the heavens and sent a heavenly host to announce the birth of His Son to these lowly people. The shepherds were privileged to go to Bethlehem to see the baby. "So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger." (Luke 2:16) The prophets had already declared that the Son of God would be like a shepherd. The magi quoted the prophet Micah to King Herod: "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel." (Matthew 2:6)
The magi, wise kings from a foreign land, knew the prophesies about a star appearing to announce the birth of the King of the Jews. They set aside everything else to follow the star to Bethlehem. Imagine their thoughts when they found this king in a stable! Yet, they came to worship, and worship they did! They presented the humble king with their best gifts of gold, incense and myrrh, and "They bowed down and worshiped Him." (Matthew 2:11)
The Lord wants us to enter into the Christmas story. Like the shepherds and magi we are called to set aside our agendas to worship Him. We are asked to empty ourselves so that we can worship and see the glory of God. Andrew Murray defines humility in his book entitled Humility. "...Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all...Humility is the very essence of holiness. It is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God. Where God is all, self is nothing." (Page 63 and 69)
When Jesus emptied Himself to come to earth He knew that the wooden manger would eventually become a wooden cross. Murray says, "The cross, death and the grave, into which Jesus humbled Himself, were His path to the glory of God. And they are our path too. Let humility be our one desire and our fervent prayer. Let us gladly accept whatever humbles us before God or men--this alone is the path to the glory of God." (Page 79)
This Christmas, as you consider the gift of Christ Jesus in your life, remember the path that Jesus took to reveal the glory of God. I pray that all of us will join Him on the path of humility.
Joan E. Mathias