Session 9 Extra: Christ’s Humility

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In Session 9, we ask the question, What did Jesus endure before his crucifixion that revealed both his humility and humiliation?

John’s Gospel records that Jesus expressed his love for his Father by humbly obeying him (14:31; 15:10; cf. 8:28). And this humility led to his humiliation. He was often mocked and rejected throughout his ministry, and just before going to the Cross he was betrayed by a close associate, suffered a shameful arrest, was abandoned by his disciples, underwent two unjust trials, and experienced public indignity. Jesus’ humility led to—and was expressed throughout—his humiliation.

This may be a new concept for your teens who are familiar with these events of Jesus’ life. The Leader Prep material in your Leader Guide for this session explains this concept so you can engage your students with this truth in the study. For more, read this article from The Reformation Study Bible.

Humility in Scripture does not mean pretending to be worthless and refusing positions of responsibility, but knowing and keeping the place God has appointed for one. Being humble is a matter of accepting God’s arrangement, whether it means the high exposure of leadership (Moses was humble as a leader, Num. 12:3) or the obscurity of being a servant. When Jesus said that He was “lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29), He meant that He was following the Father’s plan for His earthly life.

The three Persons of the Trinity are eternal and self-existent, having equally all aspects and attributes of deity, and always acting together. But the Persons are distinct in their mutual relationships. Something of what this means is revealed in the humble submission of Christ to the Father’s will, and also in the way that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son to confirm the work of salvation in human hearts.

The Father’s will for Christ is sometimes called the covenant of redemption. It is called a “covenant” because it is an agreement between two parties. The Westminster Confession summarizes the agreement (the Father’s purpose, accepted by the Son) as follows:

It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only-begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King; the Head and Saviour of His Church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto to whom He did, from all eternity, give a people to be His seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified (Westminster Confession, VIII. 1).

Christ fulfilled this covenant through two stages called His “humiliation” and His “exaltation.” In His humiliation, He left behind the eternal glory that was His, taking on a perfect and complete human nature: body, soul, and spirit. Through His incarnation He lived a life of poverty and suffering. He was rejected by His nation, finally to die the shameful death of a common criminal (2 Cor. 8:9, Gal. 3:13; Phil. 2:6–8).

In His exaltation, Christ rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and reigns as King over the world and the church. Together with the Father, He has sent the Holy Spirit to complete the work of redemption that He won for us.

The redemptive obedience of Christ has two sides, called “active” and “passive.” In His active obedience, Christ fulfilled the positive commandments of God on behalf of His people, serving God and doing good. This positive righteousness is granted as a gift through faith to believers, securing for them a righteous standing before God. In His passive obedience, Christ paid the penalty owed by sinners to God. He did this by suffering death on the cross. “Passive” means “permitting” or “allowing,” not being inactive, detached, or unfeeling. Jesus came to do the Father’s will, not to avoid it, and His heart was wholly conformed to it.

—”The Humble Obedience of Christ,” page 1,519 of The Reformation Study Bible (Copyright © 2005 by Ligonier Ministries. All rights reserved.) Reprinted with permission.

Click here for more resources for A Study of John 11–21.

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