We are, once again, going to look a little more at the humility of Jesus Christ, which is an example for us to follow. It is important for us to follow this example because God says that He gives His grace only to the humble.

The night before Jesus was crucified, just after He washed their feet, He said, ‘You call me Lord and Master and yet I have washed your feet. You must do the same for one another’ (Jn. 13:13, 14). What does that mean? Many people have felt that, it means that we must all take basins of water and wash one another’s feet; even if our feet are covered with socks and shoes and they are not dirty. That becomes a meaningless ritual.

What exactly did Jesus do that day, when He took that basin of water? If all those disciples were wearing socks and shoes like we wear today, particularly in colder climates, then there would be absolutely no need to wash their feet at all. Why did He wash their feet? It is not a religious ritual that He went through. No, it was an act of necessity. He saw a need for a dirty job to be done for His disciples, and He did it. So when He said, ‘I have given you an example. I the Lord and Teacher washed your feet of you all, you also must wash one another’s feet’ (Jn. 13:15).

We must ask ourselves: What is it that Jesus did to the Apostles? In one sentence, we could say, He met their physical need by doing a dirty task for them. So what has He told us to do? He has told us to be willing to do dirty tasks for one another, where there is such a necessity, and not to go through a ritual. If you are in a meeting hall, for example, the way you wash people’s feet would probably be by going in and cleaning the toilet, so that it is kept clean. That would be the equivalent of washing the feet today.

It is a question of seeing a particular need and then meeting it. What Jesus did there, in taking that basin of water and washing their feet, was typical of His whole life. All His life, I believe, He was a servant of all men. We are not told how He lived for 30 years in Nazareth, but I can imagine how He lived. He must have lived serving others; serving His younger brothers, younger sisters; serving Mary, serving others in the neighbourhood – being willing to do any task for anyone; seeing a need and being quick to meet it. There we see His humility. And there we see how God wants man to live.

My dear friend, that is how God wants you to live. If you can see this and be gripped by the glory of Jesus, your life can be transformed. Don’t worry if other Christians around you are not living like this. Don’t judge them. Don’t find fault with them. It is not our business. God is the Judge of all men and we don’t have to judge anyone. But you can be like this, can’t you? How happy you will be? Jesus, after speaking about being willing to wash one another’s feet and actually doing it, said, ‘‘if you know these things you will be really happy, if you do it’’ (Jn. 13:17). Not if you just think about it. The way of life that Jesus demonstrated is the way of supreme happiness. You are not happy when you sit like a big maharaja or lord on your chair and make other people serve you. If you really want to be happy, be a servant.

Jesus associated very closely with the lowest level of society in His time. He moved among them as their equal. Have you seen fisherman on the coasts of India? You go down to a number of places along the coast and you can see fisherman. What level of society do they live? They are despised as belonging to the lowest level of the society. I don’t mean these rich fishermen who go out in trawlers and motorboats. No, I am talking about people who put their nets into the sea and catch fish. Peter, James, and John were like that. If you want to see what they were like go and look at these fishermen who cast their nets into the sea, who go out in their little boats. Jesus associated with them.

Not only with people in a lower level of society socially, but also with those who were at the lower level morally; prostitutes, drunkards, cheats. He was sinless and perfect, yet He mingled with them. He was not afraid of people calling bad names, saying, He is a friend of sinners. He never made a single sinner feel awkward through His perfect holiness. You know one mark of a humble man is that He never makes you feel awkward; he always makes you feel comfortable around His presence even though He is holy. Jesus was like that.

The Pharisees were not like that. You know they were so stiff. They wouldn’t let anybody come near them because they consider themselves so holy. But Jesus wasn’t like that. He mingled with the lowest level of people and made them feel at home. In fact, He moved around with His disciples so freely that Peter would sometimes rebuke Him and felt free to give Him advice. Can you think of that? The disciple would feel free to give some advice, ‘Lord we think you should do this or that.’

Now, how is it today with a lot of Christian leaders? Do you find them mingling like this? No. Christianity has not given to our country a demonstration of how Jesus lived on the earth. We have failed. We need to acknowledge it. Never mind others. You, who are reading this transcript, you can demonstrate the life of Christ in your own life, in your locality. If, little by little, each one of us does that, our country will once again be able to see true Christianity demonstrated by people living like Jesus.

See the humility of Jesus in the spiritual realm. In the Garden of Gethsemane He was under tremendous pressure. The Bible says in Matthew 26:38 that Jesus was deeply grieved to the point of death. What does He do at such a time? He doesn’t act as though He is self-sufficient; He doesn’t need anybody’s help. No, He calls Peter, James and John and asks them to pray with Him. Think of asking somebody to pray with you.

A proud man will never ask anybody to pray with Him. He doesn’t feel such a need. But Jesus, the Son of God, who lived such a perfect life, asking these simple, stupid, foolish disciples, who had so many weaknesses, saying, ‘Will you please come and pray with me because I am under tremendous pressure.’ Jesus was conscious of his weakness as a human being and He sought the fellowship of his disciples in prayer. Do you do that? Or, are you so self-sufficient? Do you see my dear friend, how far we are from the humility of Jesus Christ? It is because we are not honest to acknowledge that we are nothing. That is why God’s power cannot be manifested through our lives. You know why God’s power manifested in such a fantastic way in the life of Jesus? Because He recognized He is nothing. He just lived before His Father as nothing – and the Father could manifest all His power through Christ.

There are only two spirits operating in the world: one going up, the other going down. Up, in the sense of exulting oneself in pride and down, in the sense of humbling oneself; the spirit of Lucifer and the spirit of Christ. It is operating everywhere. It is operating in Christendom too. You find it even in Christian organizations, Christian churches; Christians trying to push other people down, get on top of their shoulder, climb up to a higher, higher, higher positions. What spirit is that? Is that the spirit of Christ? No, it is the spirit of Lucifer. It is the spirit of Satan operating in churches and Christian organizations. Is that not sad? Jesus Christ came with another spirit of humbling Himself, going down. I want to say to you:  this is the way we can identify a true disciple of Jesus. He has absolutely no desire to go up or to become great or big either in the Christian church or in the world. He just wants to go down. He wants to bless others. He doesn’t want to exult himself over a single person anywhere.

Finally, in the death of Jesus, we see His humility coming to a perfect end; to perfection, because in the death and trial of Jesus, He was never given justice. He was humiliated, ridiculed, mocked, ill-treated and made like the scum of the earth. There you see His humility that He never called the angels to help. He could have called 12 legions (72,000) of angels with one word. Why didn’t He do it?

Oh He humbled Himself. He didn’t grab. All through His life He opened His palms to give to others. And finally, He opened His palms to receive the nails, on the cross. This is the way that Jesus went and this is the way God wants you and me to live; with an open palm and not with a clenched fist to fight with others. No, but with an open palm, to give up our rights. Not judging others, leaving it to God to judge.

Jesus once said in John 8:15, ‘I don’t judge anybody.’ He submitted to the humiliating death that His Father planned for Him. It didn’t matter how He was killed. He accepted it. He was obedient unto death. My dear friend, this is the real Jesus of the scriptures. He was not honoured as a celebrity or a film star, like many of today’s evangelists are. On the other hand, people rejected Him, despised Him and nailed Him to a cross.

This is true Christianity. It is not a popular big thing. The Bible says that that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination before God. Let us look at Jesus and go down the way He went.

This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen.  You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.