Formations 01.08.2023: Jesus’s Humility

Matthew 3:1-6, 13-17

Many leaders in our world, past and present, have come with fanfare and promises, conceit and power, riches and tailored suits. They’re surrounded by bodyguards who will protect them at all costs. They say they identify with their people, but then they climb into private, full-service jets and fly back to their homes where the bills are paid, the power never goes out, the refrigerator and pantry are always full, and people take care of their every need.

Jesus Christ was born the Son of God, who came to save the world from the devastation of sin and loneliness and spiritual hunger. There is no greater being than the Lord God, and there is no greater role than the role of God’s Son. It would seem that Jesus had every right to the perks of leadership. He deserved fanfare and riches and comfort. But he had none of these.

Imagine a United States president living as a transient, moving from town to town and dependent on the hospitality of the people there. Imagine a British monarch eating daily at the tables of societal outcasts. Imagine an Egyptian pharaoh wearing dirty robes and filthy sandals. It’s hard for us to picture such humility in our world’s greatest leaders.

And yet Jesus was the very picture of humility. Born in a stable to poor parents, living with the lower class, and working as a young carpenter, he seemed to be just like everybody else. Even when he begins his ministry, as we read about in our lesson text, Jesus exemplifies humility. Coming upon the popular ministry of his cousin John, he doesn’t stand before the crowd and tell John it’s time to sit down and listen. He doesn’t point out what John has gotten wrong. He honors the ministry of John the Baptist and even asks his cousin to baptize him.

Jesus Christ did not need the symbol of baptism. He did not need to be buried with his sins and lifted up in newness of life. But he humbled himself and became the example for all of us, signifying his own life transition from carpenter to minister, and God blessed him for it. John was astounded, but imagine how Jesus’s humility affirmed his own ministry to this point. It was a beautiful acknowledgment to John for preparing the way.


• What separates world leaders from the rest of us? How does the United States president live in comparison to your family?
• Can you remember a time when a president (or other world leader) showed humility? If so, what happened?
• Why do you think we treat our leaders the way we do, separating them from their people?
• We can read John’s response when Jesus asked him for baptism (v. 14). What other feelings do you think he had when he heard this humble request?
• What do you think Jesus’s willingness to be baptized meant to John and to the people who witnessed it? What does it mean to you?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.


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