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Jehovah’s Witnesses


The Watchtower—Study Edition (Simplified)  |  November 2012

Jesus Set the Pattern of Humility

Jesus Set the Pattern of Humility

“I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also.”JOHN 13:15.

1, 2. During Jesus’ last night on earth, what lesson did he teach his apostles?

IT IS Jesus’ last night on earth. He is with his apostles in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem. While they are having a meal, Jesus gets up and takes off his outer garments. He ties a towel around his waist and puts water into a basin. Then he begins to wash the feet of the disciples and to dry them off with the towel. When he finishes, he puts his garments back on. Why did Jesus do such a humble thing?John 13:3-5.

2 Jesus himself explained: “Do you know what I have done to you?” He continued: “If I, although Lord and Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash the feet of one another. For I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also.” (John 13:12-15) With this humble act, Jesus taught his apostles a lesson that they would not forget and that would encourage them to be humble later on.

3. (a) On two occasions, how did Jesus show the importance of humility? (b) What will we study in this article?

3 When Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, it was not the first time he showed them how important humility is. One time, some of the apostles were arguing about who was the greatest among them. Jesus brought a young child to them and told them: “Whoever receives this young child on the basis of my name receives me too, and whoever receives me receives him also that sent me forth. For he that conducts himself as  a lesser one among all of you is the one that is great.” (Luke 9:46-48) At a later time when Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, who thought that they were more important than others, he said: “Everyone that exalts himself will be humbled and he that humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11) Clearly, Jesus wants his followers to be humble. He does not want them to be proud, to think that they are more important than others, or to act as if they were better than others. Let us carefully study Jesus’ example of humility so that we can imitate him. We will also learn how this quality helps not only the one who shows it but others as well.


4. How did Jesus show humility before he came to earth?

4 God’s Son showed humility even before he came to earth. In heaven, Jesus had been with his Father for a very long time. The Bible book of Isaiah describes the strong relationship the Son had with his Father. It says: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has given me the tongue of the taught ones, that I may know how to answer the tired one with a word. He awakens morning by morning; he awakens my ear to hear like the taught ones. The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has opened my ear, and I, for my part, was not rebellious. I did not turn in the opposite direction.” (Isaiah 50:4, 5) Jesus wanted very much to learn from the true God. He showed a humble attitude and carefully listened to what Jehovah taught him. He must also have watched how Jehovah humbly showed mercy toward sinful humans.

5. How did Jesus show humility and modesty when he had a disagreement with the Devil?

5 Not all angels were humble like Jesus. The  angel who became Satan the Devil did not want to learn from Jehovah. He became proud and started to feel that he was more important than others. This was the opposite of humility. As a result, he rebelled against Jehovah. Jesus’ attitude was very different. He did not want more authority in heaven than what God had given him. And he never wanted to use his authority in the wrong way. For example, the Bible tells us about one time when Jesus had a disagreement with the Devil about Moses’ body. When this happened, Jesus did not do anything that he did not have the right to do, even though he was Michael, the angel with the most authority. God’s Son showed humility and modesty. He was happy to wait for Jehovah, the Supreme Judge of the universe, to take care of things in the right way and at the right time.Read Jude 9.

Jesus was happy to wait for Jehovah to take care of things in the right way and at the right time

6. How did Jesus show humility by agreeing to become the Messiah?

6 While still in heaven, Jesus knew all the prophecies about what would happen to him as the Messiah. So he probably already knew that he was going to suffer. Even so, Jesus agreed to live on earth and die as the promised Messiah. Why? The apostle Paul showed that humility was what helped Jesus. Paul wrote that although Jesus was a powerful angel, he did not think that “he should be equal to God.” Instead, “he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men.”Philippians 2:6, 7.


How did Jesus’ humility help others?

7, 8. In what ways did Jesus show humility during his childhood and his ministry?

7 Paul wrote that while Jesus was a human, “he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.” (Philippians 2:8) From his childhood on, Jesus left us a pattern, or an example,  of humility to imitate. Jesus obeyed his parents, Joseph and Mary, even though they were imperfect. (Luke 2:51) This is a fine example for young ones. God will bless them for their obedience to their parents.

8 As an adult, Jesus showed in many ways that he was humble. The most important thing for him was to do Jehovah’s will. (John 4:34) During his ministry, Jesus Christ used God’s name and taught people about God’s purpose and the kind of God his Father is. Jesus not only taught people to live in a way that pleased God but also lived that way himself. For example, when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, the first thing he mentioned was: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9) Here Jesus showed his disciples that the most important thing for them to do was to glorify Jehovah’s name. Jesus himself did that. Near the end of his life on earth, Jesus could say to Jehovah: “I have made your name known to them and will make it known.” (John 17:26) Also, Jesus often said that he could not do anything without Jehovah’s help.John 5:19.

9. What did Zechariah prophesy about the Messiah? How did Jesus fulfill this prophecy?

9 Zechariah prophesied about the Messiah: “Be very joyful, O daughter of Zion. Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem. Look! Your king himself comes to you. He is righteous, yes, saved; humble, and riding upon an ass, even upon a full-grown animal the son of a she-ass.” (Zechariah 9:9) This was fulfilled when Jesus entered Jerusalem before the Passover in the year 33. Many people spread clothes as well as tree branches on the road. In fact, the people in Jerusalem were excited when they heard that he was entering the city. Even when these people praised him as their King, Jesus was humble.Matthew 21:4-11.

10. What did Jesus prove by being obedient until death?

10 While he was on earth, Jesus Christ showed humility and obedience until his death on a torture stake. He proved in the best possible way that humans can stay loyal to Jehovah even in extremely difficult situations. Jesus also showed that Satan was wrong when he said that humans serve Jehovah only because of what they can get from him. (Job 1:9-11; 2:4) By perfectly obeying his Father, Christ defended Jehovah’s right to rule and showed he trusted that Jehovah’s way of ruling is the best. It must have made Jehovah very happy to see his humble Son show perfect loyalty.Read Proverbs 27:11.

Jesus proved that humans can stay loyal to Jehovah even in extremely difficult situations

11. What did Jesus’ sacrifice make possible for those who have faith in him?

11 Jesus’ death on a torture stake made it possible for people to be  saved from sin and death. (Matthew 20:28) Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, Jehovah can forgive our sins according to his righteous requirements and give humans the opportunity to live forever. Paul wrote: “Through one act of justification the result to men of all sorts is a declaring of them righteous for life.” (Romans 5:18) Jesus’ death made it possible for those anointed by holy spirit to have everlasting life in heaven and for the “other sheep” to have everlasting life on earth.John 10:16; Romans 8:16, 17.


12. How was Jesus humble and gentle in the way he treated imperfect humans?

12 Jesus invited all those who feel tired and discouraged to come to him. He said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28, 29) Because Jesus was humble and mild, he treated imperfect humans kindly and fairly. He did not expect more of his disciples than what they could do. Jesus praised and encouraged them. He did not make them feel that they were stupid or not good enough. Jesus was not harsh or hard to please. On the contrary, he said: “My yoke is kindly and my load is light.” He meant that the requirements for being one of his disciples were not too difficult to obey. If they learned from him and obeyed his teachings, they would feel comforted. That is why men and women, young and old, liked being with Jesus.Matthew 11:30.

We should imitate the way Jesus showed compassion

13. How did Jesus show mercy to those who had a hard life?

13 Jesus felt sorry for those in Israel who had a hard life, and he did all he could to help them. Near Jericho, he met two blind beggars, Bartimaeus and his friend. The two of them kept asking Jesus for help, but the people around them told the men to be quiet. Jesus could have easily ignored the blind men, but he did not. He felt sorry for those two men, so he called them to him and healed them so that they could see again. Jesus imitated his Father, Jehovah, by showing humility and mercy to sinful humans.Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52.


14. What good things resulted from Jesus’ humility?

14 Jesus’ humble attitude resulted in joy and blessings for many. Jehovah was happy because of his Son’s  obedience. The apostles and disciples were comforted and encouraged by the mild and humble way Jesus treated them. By being a good example for them, teaching them, and commending them, he helped them become better servants of God. Jesus helped many others by teaching them, encouraging them, and giving them what they needed. Actually, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, all humans who have faith in him will have blessings for all eternity.

At Armageddon, Jesus will fight to defend those who are humble

15. How did Jesus benefit from being humble?

15 What about Jesus? Did he benefit from being humble? Yes, he did. How? Jesus himself said: “Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12) Paul explained that this is exactly what happened to Jesus. Paul said: “God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Because Jesus was humble and faithful while on earth, Jehovah God “exalted,” or honored, his Son by giving him authority over all those in heaven and on earth.Philippians 2:9-11.


16. How will God’s Son continue to show humility in the future?

16 God’s Son will continue to show humility in the future. One of the psalms foretells how Jesus, as King in heaven, will act against God’s enemies. It says: “In your splendor go on to success; ride in the cause of truth and humility and righteousness.” (Psalm 45:4) At Armageddon, Jesus Christ will fight to defend those who are humble and righteous and who love truth. And what will happen at the end of the thousand years of Christ’s reign when he “has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power”? Will he show humility? Yes. The Bible tells us that he will then give the Kingdom back to his God and Father.Read 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

17, 18. (a) Why is it important for Jehovah’s servants to imitate Jesus’ example of humility? (b) What questions will we answer in the next article?

17 What about us? Will we imitate Jesus’ example and show humility? At Armageddon, the King Jesus Christ will save only those who are humble and righteous. So we need to be humble if we want to survive. Also, if we show humility, there will be many benefits for us and for others, just as there were for Jesus.

18 What can help us to imitate Jesus’ example of humility? How can we do our best to be humble even when that is not easy to do? We will answer these questions in the next article.