Christ holding a lamb. Photo © Kris L. • License: Shutter Stock • File ID: 1372826990

How and why did Christ greatly humble Himself for our sake?

also known as: the humiliation of Christ


Artists conception of Jesus Christ with crown of thorns. Copyrighted. God’s Story. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Creator of the cosmos (John 1:1-3). As God, he is all-powerful and all-knowing. Yet, so great is his love for us, his creations, that he chose to humble Himself greatly for our sake.

…in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. —Philippians 2:8 NASB

Jesus Christ’s humble approach to mankind is seen in…

  1. His very humble birth

    …she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. —Luke 2:7 NASB

    That Christ should clothe Himself with our flesh, a piece of earth which we tread upon; oh infinite humility! Christ’s taking our flesh was one of the lowest steps of His humiliation. He humbled Himself more in lying in the virgin’s womb than in hanging on the cross. It was not so much for man to die, but for God to become man was the wonder of humility. “He was made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). —Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity page 196

    He had every right to come as a bold and powerful King arriving in pomp and a blaze of angels. He chose, instead, not to be born in wealth or prestige, but among commoners in anonymity in a place of little importance, where the land’s evil king would go to extreme efforts to murder Him as child.

    • What are some of the most common misconceptions about Jesus Christ’s birth? Answer

  2. His purpose

    He came to Earth, not to rule (as was His full right), but to voluntarily make Himself a humble, pure sacrificial lamb to be killed to pay, on the behalf sinful people, for sins, crimes and great wickedness He did NOT commit (John 1:29). What an incredibly humble and self-sacrificing thing He did for us!

  3. His humble circumstances throughout his life

    • His early childhood was lived as a refugee in hiding in a foreign pagan land (Egypt).
    • His youth was lived in an area of poverty and bad reputation (Nazareth).

      Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”… —John 1:46 NASB

    • lived the life of a lowly refugee in his youth
    • the child of poor, working-class parents in a generally impoverished land (Nazareth)
    • a lowly carpenter, who prior to His ministry years, must have worked long and hard, suffering the cuts, bruises, pains and splinters associated with this trade—all the while abstaining from use of miraculous powers that would have made his work so easy
    • took the form of a lowly, generic, plain Jew—No one ever reported that Jesus was amazingly handsome, tall, beautiful eyes or had a great physique. He could have taken the form of a handsome prince, as befits His identity, yet again He chose total humility.
    • owned no house of His own—As an adult, He essentially became homeless, with no place of His own to lay his head.
    • During His ministry years, he appears to have been virtually destitute (in human terms)—with no money, no known Earthly belongings, except the clothes on His back and the sandals on His feet.
    • dependent on the charity of others for food and shelter—usually very humble fare
    • owned no personal transportation—no wagon, chariot, horse or even a donkey of his own to travel from place to place—instead he walked through the rough land, mountains and canyons, on foot

    When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village.

    As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” —Luke 9:51-58 NASB

  4. His reputation

    As the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, He fully deserved the greatest glory, honor and worship, yet He foreknew the terrible (and ironic) ways that most people would actually perceive Him.

    Artist’s conception of Jesus being struck. Copyrighted. God’s Story.

    Christ’s attackers mocked, “Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?” (Matthew 26:68)

    God suffered much to become flesh and walk among us. He was all-powerful, but He rarely did anything to protect Himself. He humbled Himself for our sake. Read “God’s Story” from the beginning

    He was the frequent target of disrespect and false accusations (you’re a blasphemer; you’re a sinner; you’re in league with the devil, etc.

    He was rejected and despised (Messianic prophecy: Psalm 22:6).

    He endured an astounding lack of appreciation for His great goodness, thousands of generous healings and deliverances. The vast majority failed to ever truly appreciate this totally righteous and holy nature—pure and without any sin whatsoever.

    This man who profoundly helped people every day was physically and verbally attacked. They moved to throw Him off a cliff. They plotted His murder. Eventually, using false charges and lying witnesses, they executed Him as loathsome, blasphemous criminal (Messianic prophecy: Isaiah 53).

    And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. —Luke 4:28-29 NASB

    Then the high priest tore his robes and said,

    “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy” —Matthew 26:65 NASB

    Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus… —Matthew 26:59 NASB

    …they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him… —Matthew 26:67 NASB

  5. His soul

    He was subjected to repeated temptations by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11), suffering mental and physical agony prior to His greatest sacrifice, in which He was forsaken by the Father as He took on the vile sins of the world.

    For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. —Hebrews 4:15 NASB

    And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. —Luke 22:44 NASB

    See: Did Jesus really sweat drops of blood?

    At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” —Mark 15:34 NASB

    Compare the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 22:1

    Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. —Hebrews 2:17-18 NASB

  6. His excruciating and humiliating death

    • He allowed the hands of sinners to place a mocking painful crown upon his Holy head—He who is the true king of all nations and who is fully worthy of the greatest crown that can be imagined.
    • He quietly allowed them to whip and beat him bloody, fully experiencing great pain—when He could so easily have destroyed them where they stood.
    • He allowed them to publicly display Him—as an apparent criminal worthy of death—beaten, torn, and naked.
    • He allowed them to crucify Him—one of the very most torturous execution methods ever devised by man (Luke 23; John 19; Mark 15:24-25). He meekly endured the hours of agony.

    • See: HOW did Jesus die?

  7. His grave

    No grand monument was prepared, instead he allowed his body to be buried in a humble borrowed tomb (Matthew 27:57-58, 60 / compare the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53:9)

WHY was the Son of God so humble?

Why did He not miraculously strike those who lied about him mute or bring down fire from the sky on His attackers or hundred pound hailstones on their head? Why did He not open the earth to swallow those evil false accusers? Or change them into clucking chickens?

It was not because he was incapable. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was not some impotent wimp. As the 2nd Person of the Triune God, he had great power and knowledge, plus an army of powerful angels to destroy anyone and any place. (See: Destroyers, angels of death)

He suffered so much willingly for us. He allowed all to happen.

Christ has 2 comings down to Earth. The 1st was incredibly humble. The 2nd will not be so, but, rather, will be in great power, glory, and justice with righteous judgment (on sinners) and reward of His faithful children. The Messiah will then rule as King on the Earth for 1,000 years. See: Millennium.

“…Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” —Hebrews 2:9 NASB

The following event in Christ’s life is instructional. It occurred after His death and resurrection, during the time before His ascension to sit at the right hand of the Father.

When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they [the Samaritan villagers] did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said,

“Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

But He turned and rebuked them, [and said,

“You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”]

And they went on to another village. —Luke 9:51-56 NASB

5 reasons WHY Christ’s humility and self-sacrifice was necessary

  1. To execute the purpose’s of God

    …this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. —Acts 2:23-24 NASB

    • Compare the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 40:6-8

  2. To fulfill the Old Testament types and Messianic prophecies

    • See: partial list of Messianic prophecies

  3. To satisfy THE LAW, paying the penalty for the guilty (as Isaiah 53 prophecied), and obtaining for them eternal redemption

    …not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. —Hebrews 9:12 NASB

    For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. —Hebrews 9:15 NASB

    See: • expiationredeemer • redemption • atonement • reconciliation • justice of God • forgiveness of sin

  4. To truly, personally experience human life—the discomforts, unfairness, pains, indignations, griefs and horrors of this fallen world as a human being—not as a distant Divine being. He became one of us—and was tempted in all things as we are.”
  5. To provide us an example—see: Humility

    …Christ also suffered for you,
    leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
    who committed no sin,
    nor was any deceit found in His mouth;
    and while being reviled, He did not revile in return;
    while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
    and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross,
    so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness;
    for by His wounds you were healed. —1 Peter 2:21b-24 NASB

    For I [Christ] have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. —John 13:15 NKJV

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Article Version: June 5, 2019