Clergy View: What humility?

If 2020 has shown you your own frailty and brokenness, remember the Humble King stands ready to receive the humble of heart.


Jesus was born to Mary. There was nothing significant about her by the world’s standards. She was just a girl, likely between the ages of 12 and 14, who had found favor with God. She was not from a noble city. She lived in Nazareth (Luke 1:26), a town which evidently had some negative connotations (John 1:46).

Jesus was born in a manger (Luke 2:7). It’s likely that our 21st Century understanding of an inn is different than what would have been available in the First Century. And we do not know whether there was a flustered-yet-compassionate innkeeper who offered his stable to the couple. The text only indicates that the Messiah’s birth, planned before the foundations of the world, took place somewhere out back because it was the only suitable place they could find. No well-lit palace, soft bed, or attending midwives – just a borrowed feeding trough.

The birth of Jesus was first announced to shepherds. Whether or not the stereotype was justified, shepherds were generally considered dishonest and unclean. At the very least, they were of a low status in society. But it was an unnamed group of rag-tag outcasts, not the religious elite or noble of society, who first received the good news (Luke 2:8-14).

Why was he born this way? Why did he come humbly? Could Jesus not have been born to a more significant person of David’s lineage? Could he not have been born in a more suitable environment in Bethlehem? Shouldn’t a birth as significant as this be announced first to the high and powerful? I believe there are at least two reasons for Christ’s humble birth.

First, Jesus’ birth shows that God identifies with the lowly. Jesus would eventually go to the cross to redeem humanity from every tribe, tongue, nation and social class. And he would offer salvation to every “class” of sinner – from priest to prostitute. And the amazing news of the Gospel is that you and I are offered the same forgiveness of sin and new life in Christ today.


Second, Jesus’ birth draws attention to the fact that God exalts the humble. Go back and read Mary’s words in Luke 1:46-55. God’s mercy is for those who revere him (v. 50). It is not family tree, place of birth, or any other earthly measure that earns God’s attention or blessing. It is Christ’s work on the cross that saves. Jesus offers salvation to those who humble themselves in repentance and faith – boasting is excluded (Ephesians 2:8-9).

So, this Christmas and New Year, find comfort in the fact that God takes immense interest in the lowly and insignificant. And if 2020 has shown you your own frailty and brokenness, remember the Humble King stands ready to receive the humble of heart.

Dan Newton is assistant pastor of Faith Baptist Church.
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