Previous posts (love, kindness, gentleness, compassion, power) have explored some of the physical displays of Jesus' ministry as He healed and did miracles. The current post will look specifically at His teaching ministry. At first glance, this may not seem to showcase His humility, but the reality is that the Son of God gave approximately three-and-a-half years of His life to the primary pursuit of preaching the gospel. He lived very simply, with no source of income, with no home, with no stable environment, with few creature comforts, and even with no place to lay His head. Jesus gave hour after hour, day after day, week after week, year after year to bring the good news to those who needed to hear, all for nothing that would be considered personal reward.
Jesus' humble service often included preaching the truth. Numerous verses record something like this: "Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 9:35). He repeatedly taught truth about salvation, using such approaches as bread, water, shepherding, the new birth, and freedom. Jesus was bold to speak the truth and confront error. "You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart" (Matthew 12:34).
Jesus' humble ministry met people where they were. He taught people from what they knew; He met the Samaritan woman on common ground by discussing water, worship, and the prophets (John 4:12-24). When people who had received His initial ministry spoke with Him again, He gave them additional light and instruction (John 5:14 and 9:35). Jesus used situations of life as teaching opportunities, such as when the disciples asked him why a man had been born blind (John 9:3).
Jesus' humble ministry meant that He did not force His ministry on others. "And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief" (Matthew 13:58). Still, He persisted in His ministry even when "many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore" (John 6:66). He humbly continued when "not even His brothers were believing in Him" (John 7:5).
Jesus' humble ministry gently led people to a point of decision or confession. "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:26).
Jesus' humility meant that even though He was God, He did not presume upon His position. "Jesus said to him, 'On the other hand, it is written, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test"'" (Matthew 4:7).
Jesus' humility was expressed by His choices of disciples. For example, He chose several lowly fishermen (Matthew 4:19-21) and a man in the hated position of tax collector (Matthew 9:9).
Jesus' humility was wonderfully displayed by the fact that He placed no boundaries on ministry recipients. He ministered to an entire village of Samaritans, a cultural taboo, (John 4) and was often found in the presence of tax collectors, sinners, and others who were despised by the religious leaders.
Jesus' humility was displayed by His agreement to pay a tax, even though He should not have been under the requirement. "When Peter said, 'From strangers,' Jesus said to him, 'Then the sons are exempt. However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and . . . you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me'" (Matthew 17:27).
Finally, Jesus' humility was demonstrated through His willingness to do menial tasks for others. "So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. . . . Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise" (John 21:9,13). Perhaps most dramatically, Jesus "got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded" (John 13:4-5).
"You call Me teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him" (John 13:13-16).