September 6, Tuesday

markEditor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from September 5-11 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S. F. Mark, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), has been married to Mira for 20 years; they have two children, Jeremiah and Carissa.

Devotional Thought for Today

John 12:9-19 (ESV):

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. 12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

6The Triumphal Entry is a fulfillment of a prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9, which reads, “Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion.  Shout in triumph, o daughter of Jerusalem.  Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey.”  It is significant that Jesus chose to ride into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.  It’s a declaration that He is king, but unlike the kings of this world, His robe of royalty is in humility.  In a strange paradox, the majesty of Christ is found in His humility, and it is this divine humility that makes Him so worthy of our worship.

As we think about the virtue of humility, it is admittedly something that is hard to define and something even harder to achieve.  Many have called it the first foundation of all virtues, and I would agree with that assessment.   Humility can be defined as a loss of one’s self, a disregard of our reputation, our dignity, and whatever respect we think we are deserving of.  This definition also gives us the barometer of how we can measure humility.  The distance between our true state and the lowest level that we are willing to genuinely identify ourselves with is the correct measure of humility.  For Christ, the measure of His humility is immeasurable because though He is God by nature, He didn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped, so He humbled himself to the point of death as a bondservant to the world.  There are simply no human categories that can help us to explain the humility of Christ.

In light of this fact, it’s amazing to me how much we as Christians struggle in the area of humility.    Sociologists tell us that people become like the gods they worship, but that leaves us with this unavoidable question: What god we are worshipping? Are we worshipping the humble king that we see here in this passage or a god of our own design?  There is a narcissistic spirit that pervades our world and which has even crept into the church.  We are too busy staring at our own reflection instead of the reflection of Christ.  You cannot be abandoned for the gospel if you are worried about your reputation, your dignity, and what you think life owes you.  The Cross is a testimony to the humility of Christ, and this humility is one of the attributes that make Him infinitely worthy of our worship and our imitation.

Prayer

Lord, teach me the way of humility, to die to myself and to pick up my cross daily.  Help me to see the pride that keeps me from experiencing Your blessing and becoming more and more like You.   Show me that I must decrease in order that You may increase.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Luke 17

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Lunch Break Study 

Read Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV): So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.[1]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What is the Holy Spirit’s role in Christian unity?
  2. How is humility displayed in the context of the Christian community?
  3. What is the connection between humility and obedience to God?

Notes:

  1. Among many things, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to shed abroad God’s love in our hearts and to unite the believer to Christ, and in turn unite believers to one other. It is only through active participation in the ministry of the Holy Spirit that the church can experience the type of unity that Paul is calling for.
  2. In the context of Christian community, humility is displayed by the freedom from selfish ambition and the consideration of the greater significance of others.   Gordon Fee reminds us that “selfish ambition” stands at the heart of human fallenness, where self-interest and self-aggrandizement at the expense of others primarily dictate values and behavior.[2]  Humility frees us from this trap and brings us into real fellowship with one another.
  3. Obedience to God is primarily a matter of humility. You cannot obey God unless you are first willing to humble yourself to His will just as Jesus submitted to the will of the Father.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Php 2:1–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Fee, G. D. (1995). Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (p. 186). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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Evening Reflection  

In what ways did pride affect your day?  Were you quick to defend yourself or to react in anger towards criticism?  How can you grow in humility?  Take time to confess the areas of pride in your life and to ask for the grace of Christ to cover you.

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