“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
To the best of my knowledge, the passage above is the only time Jesus described His inner being using His own words. As a result, we stand to learn much about our Savior by carefully studying the words He chose. While I have so very far to go, it is my heart’s desire to become as much like Christ as possible; therefore, I want to know the meanings of the words He used to describe Himself. Toward that end, I recently completed a thorough study of “humble” for my Greek class. While the entire paper is FASCINATING reading, I’ll just give you the gist here!
The word originally meant “low-lying” and described objects that did not rise far from the ground. It was assigned to those who were poor, unimportant, of little social influence, and powerless. Therefore, in the Greek culture, where man was the highest measure of all things, to be considered “humble” was shameful and contemptible.
However, in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) a dramatic contrast is immediately evident. While the basic notion of being low, oppressed, and afflicted remains, the word describes desirable traits for a child of God. In a theocentric view of mankind, humans are rightly viewed as lower than God, and humble described a person who had been brought into right relationship with God and with others.
In Matthew 11, Christ used the term to describe Himself as He extended a warm, friendly welcome to lost, weary sinners. He could welcome the lowly and the oppressed because He was among them. If we look closely, we see that Jesus did not simply say that He was humble; but that He was humble in heart. Lowly and humble did not describe just His earthly living conditions. No, EVERYTHING about Christ was lowly and humble.
He was humble in His will, in His attitude, and in His thoughts. He was humble in His desires, His decisions, and in His actions as He chose to leave His throne in heaven and come to serve and save sinful man. It is no wonder that Paul pointed to Christ and told his readers to develop that same attitude (Phil 2:6-11). To see others as more significant than ourselves, to put their needs ahead of our own, to empty ourselves as we lay down our lives in service to Him and others; knowing that those who humble themselves now will one day be exalted by God.
Humble described all of Jesus – does it describe us? –Dave