In John Stott's book The Incomparable Christ, his first chapter focuses on what the gospels teach about Christ. Matthew reveals what Christ came to fulfill; Mark focuses on who Jesus is, what he came to do, and what he expects from his disciples. Luke looks at the salvation Jesus came to bring. John's reveals the signs of Jesus, the ones that were left so that we might believe (20:30).
Stott points out that the book of John is divided into two portions when it comes to the signs of Jesus:
The seven signs are signs of power and authority and are all recorded in the first half of the Gospel. In the second half John records signs of humility and weakness. He begins in the upper room when Jesus took off his outer clothing, wrapped a towel around him and, kneeling, washed the feet of the Twelve. Above all, there was the cross. According to John, although Jesus revealed his glory in signs of ower (Jn 2:11), the chief means of his glorification was the cross. "The hour has come," he said, "for the Son of Man to be glorified" (Jn. 12:23).
I was preparing to teach James 4:1-11 this past week when I read this section. It dovetailed quite beautifully. James reminds his readers that God exalts those who humble themselves. That is exactly how Jesus was ultimately lifted up and glorified, through his weakness and shame.
I nod my head in vigorous assent when I read those things. But how easily do I accept this? We live in a world where everyone wants his moment of recognition. We want a seat at the table; we want our views heard; we want to be part of the dialogue. Do I let that influence me? How much of what I do is more about wanting honour for myself? It's so easy to say something is "my ministry," but when I'm not noticed, do I squirm and feel injustice?
Christ was followed by throngs of people who waited for him to do great things. Where were his crowds when he was arrested, beaten and hung to die? Who was standing there from among his friends and family? He still went to Calvary, regardless of the fact that he could have refused at any time. The willingness to be brought low is what humility is all about. It's not just the grudging acceptance; it's the willingness.
May I be willing to identify with Christ in his weakness.