“He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).
In His suffering and death, Jesus is our supreme example of humility.
We naturally react to injustice with deep hurt and an assertion of our rights. But Jesus’ response to His accusers did not include one word of angry defensiveness. Matthew 27:12-14 tells us: “And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?’ And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so that the governor was quite amazed.”
Later on, during His sham trial, Jesus continued to humble Himself. He accepted sinful men’s abuse when they whipped Him, stripped off His robe, planted a crown of thorns on His head, mocked Him, spat on Him, and beat on Him with a reed. Christ did not even demand His rights when He was condemned to death and forced to walk to Calvary half-naked with a cross on His back.
Today’s verse underscores the most shocking aspect of Christ’s humiliation: the kind of death He died. He endured crucifixion, the cruelest form of death ever devised. The Romans used it to execute rebellious slaves and the worst criminals. Because He was King of the Jews, Jesus’ death on the cross was seen as especially horrible by His people. The Jews had long known what the Law of Moses said: “He who is hanged [on a tree] is accursed of God” (Deut. 21:23). From everyone’s standpoint, the Son of God suffered the ultimate in human degradation.
But in spite of the detestable treatment He suffered, Christ graciously and lovingly died for sinners like you and me. Such an example of selfless humility ought to motivate us, His followers, as we minister to others, “since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
Suggestions for Prayer
Give thanks that Jesus’ example of humility extended all the way to His willingness to redeem you.
For Further Study
• Read one of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ suffering and death (Matt. 26—27; Mark 14—15; Luke 22—23; John 18—19). Record some observations about His general attitude during the ordeal.
• In what situations and ways does He show humility?
• If you have time, compare and contrast two of the accounts.
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.