Sunday: Humble Beginnings

Read Luke 2:21-28, Mark 6:2-4, and Leviticus 12:8. What do these verses tell us about the economic class into which Jesus was born? How would that class have influenced His ministry?

Image © Providence Collection from

Image © Providence Collection from

Joseph and Mary’s purification offering clearly indicated their economically poor background. This tradition sprang from the Mosaic legislation recorded in Leviticus 12:8, and it required that a lamb be brought for this offering. However, a compassionate exemption had been provided for impoverished people. Turtledoves or pigeons could be substituted because of humble circumstances. Thus, right from the start-from His birth in a stable to the offerings given by His parents-Jesus is portrayed as having assumed His humanity in the home of poor and ordinary people. In fact, archaeological evidence also seems to indicate that the town of Nazareth, where Jesus spent His childhood, was a relatively impoverished and unimportant town, as well. And though carpentry is an honorable trade, it certainly didn’t place Him among the elite.

The parents of Jesus were poor, and dependent upon their daily toil. He was familiar with poverty, self-denial, and privation. This experience was a safeguard to Him. In His industrious life there were no idle moments to invite temptation. No aimless hours opened the way for corrupting associations. So far as possible, He closed the door to the tempter. Neither gain nor pleasure, applause nor censure, could induce Him to consent to a wrong act. He was wise to discern evil, and strong to resist it.-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 72.

The Creator of all that was made (see John 1:1-3) entered humanity, not just as a human being, an infant, which would have been astonishing enough, but by way of the home of a relatively impoverished family! How are we to respond to something so incredible? What is the only way to respond?



Sunday: Humble Beginnings — 25 Comments

  1. The environment that Jesus was raised in doesn't seem to fit a lot of our visions of it. First is that Nazareth was very small, the latest population estimate being something less than 480 people (Wikipedia article on Nazareth). Second is that even though Galilee had a mixed population Nazareth was apparently one of the few towns that was totally Jewish or nearly so (ibid.). Probably because of that it had a synagogue (Lk 4:16).

    In spite of its strong Jewish culture the town apparently had a bad reputation (Jn 1:46) which became evident when they tried to kill Jesus (Lk 4:28-29). They would not believe Him (Mk 6:4-6) because of familiarity with His family, in fact, even His own family generally didn't believe him (Jn 7:5) which included James who later became the head of the church (Acts 15; Acts 21:8; Gal 1:19; Gal 2:9).

    So it wasn't just poverty but everything in the social environment that was against Him from the start. I think that must have given Him a very real sense of the plight of the lower classes in Jewish society.

  2. Inorder for me to be able to reach out to people I must be humble enough to be at the same level with them. Be a good listener and discuss their thoughts and feelings.

    • As a military servicemember, I can appreciate your comment. In the Service, there are programs that allow Enlisted men/women to become Commissioned Officers. Those selected have a unique view of things and a welcomed opinion (in both E and O communities) on leadership among other issues. I have witnessed the benefit of having a better perspective from the top down, after first raising up from the bottom. In the same way, I have a deeper appreciation for Christ having shared the circumstances of the "less fortunate". No one can say to Jesus "How would you know?" What an awesome example!

      • God's humility on earth creates an astonishing impact on us as well as the devil himself.God love us so much...He could have chosen to dwell among the rich and famous but He did not.Why!

    • In my few years on earth I have seen a lot. There is a difference between "trying to be humble" and " being humble". People can try to be humble only for so long. (You can fool some of the people for so long, but not all the people for so long). Because being humble is part of the fruit of the spirit, if you do not have the Holy Spirit pride will rise up so easily in someone's life, the would not know where it came from. We have to remember pride and power are rooted in humans and we seek after them.

  3. Being humble is a very vital role to any christain it can give you what being proud can not give u. My prayer is for God to make me to be humble in Jesus name

  4. [Moderator's note: Please remember to use your full name as per the guidelines for commenting.]
    The three magi could not have arrived right after the birth of Jesus. They must have arrived at least a week later as, had they brought their gifts before that Joseph would not have been considered poor but could have taken gold from the giftbox to buy a lamb.

  5. Jesus came from an 'ordinary' Jewish family. He grew up in an undesirably place called Nazareth. His family, and neighbors did not understand His extra- ordinary mission. So when He preached in the Synagogue, their remark was, ''isn't this the carpenter's son, the son of Mary''. These remarks seem to indicate that they knew Jesus only as a common laborer like themselves. The reference to Jesus as ''the son of Mary'', appears somewhat derogatory, for a man was not regarded as his mother's son on Jewish usage unless an insult was intended. May we see Jesus as most ''extra-ordinary'' today and forever.

  6. Yet still, to be born with good health, have a home, and to be home-schooled by a godly mother ... of all else said above, what "amount of such" could equally compare?

  7. By being born into that class and living it he saw the great needs. He wasn't born into the rich society and so far removed that he couldn't understand. He could relate to both he was born poor and humble yet he was still the King of glory! He could relate to everybody.

  8. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." Philippians 2:5-7

    God the Son took on the human form not just for 33.5 years but for eternity. This signifies, in part, His desire to be eternally connected to us, to me. Knowing this, why is my pride so often in the way of being used by God? Lord, help me.

  9. I think being humble is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and as Christians we really need to humble ourselves so that we draw all men unto Him.

  10. how do we regard the ordinary in and out of the church? Are we not making them uncomfortable with our life full of display?we better learn to do the jesus way.Some are reluctant to join our chch because the way we dress and eat is to high for them to match

    • I don't know what country you live in Bonakele but in Australia there is a trend to dress casually for church now. Gone are the days where most of us wore business suits and ties. I have not worn a tie for so long that I have to think hard where I have put it; and I have not owned a suit for about 15 years. Certainly I think we should be respectably dressed but a person turning up in jeans and a T-shirt would be as welcome as anyone else.

      • Maurice, I would like to disagree with you just a bit. There will always be mores concerning what we deem appropriate. If not then wearing a bikini to church would be considered ok.

        I don't think wearing grungy work coveralls is considered appropriate in any church unless the situation is unusual and warrants such a thing. Certainly, a homeless person or someone that does not have the means to do better should be tolerated and welcomed just as much as someone in a tuxedo.

        To me there should be a marked difference between what we wear on a daily basis and what we wear to church. That is how I personally show my respect to God and my witness to my faith in Him. That is what I have done as a Christian my whole religious life even in my latter years of faith when I stopped wearing a tie. What I wore was still different than the common clothes I wore daily.

        • I think you are extrapolating too far Tyler. The point that I was making is that society has changed remarkably in the last 30 years and the so-called dress standards have changed to be considerably more relaxed and casual. And such relaxation has been rewarding. It avoids the "high" image that Bonakele referred to.

          One of the benefits for me is that I can go on one of my "bush" camping trips to photograph birds and turn up to a country church in jeans and a T-shirt and nobody blinks an eyelid. In the old days I would have had to carry a suit with me as extra luggage.

  11. Did anyone catch "-from His birth in a stable" on P.47? According to Luke 2:7, they were in a manger because there was no room in the inn. Not because Mary/Joseph couldn't afford it. Any thoughts?

  12. Maurice Ashton, I am from PNG recently moved into Australia. I do not see the respect for God in some churches I go to. bikinis, beach wears, jeans & t-shirts etc are your week day clothing. Seventhday Adventists are to be peculiar people, there must be a line ruled. Our dressings must reflect our spirituality, when it comes to church on Sabbaths. wearing a tie or not, suit or not is not a problem at all. People who come to church because of other friends etc will feel awkward by seeing dressing etc but people who are moved by the spirit of God do not run away before they see the dressing of others but thry to be part of the group. If we say something bad that's when we chase people out. I hope that your hunting clothes must not be a Sabbath clothing. thank you

    • John, when I am at home, I wear smart casual clothes to church. And that is about what most people wear these days, including the pastor. It is the best of what I own. When I am on a bird photographing expedition and happen to be near a church, I wear the best of what I have on the trip. Usually that is a T-shirt and a pair of jeans. I enjoy the fellowship of Seventh-day Adventist Christians and would rather explain than I am on an expedition than miss out on fellowship. Besides, in many of the country churches where I end up on these trips, just to have a new face is a blessing for all concerned.

      And no, neither my wife or I wear swimwear to church! I spare my fellow Christians apoplectic shock!

      • In the United States, we still have an unspoken dress code about dressing up for weddings, funerals, church, important business functions and some work environments. We attended a funeral and every single young man wore a suit. My son works in Manhattan, NY, is the leader of the East coast division of IT for design and strategy in a company that has 3 divisions and 260,00 employees, meets with businesses like Ralph Lauren, and there still are times he wears his suit and tie. Other times he still looks savvy and business like.
        Most of our churches still have the code that men wear a sport coat or suit jacket, tie and dress shirt along with dress pants when they are ministering in the church. Women have more choices but tend to dress modestly. However some of the churches have given up a dress code and I have seen children in shorts and sandals, women in short sun dresses and men totally casual, but usually not the pastor. Where the dress code is gone, usually some of the standards have gone too. So pork eating is ok, and is jewelry, and not keeping the Sabbath even when baptized. We SDA are all over the board.

        I think we should dress appropriately for our area and church and that will vary geographically. Whatever is the common Sabbath or dress up clothes, if the case be, should be what we wear to church.

        • Jane, I appreciate your view of the dress code issue. I also think we should dress appropriately for the area we are in. What concerns me is that the problem is not just dress code but as you pointed out other things slip as well. To me that is because the real issue is our attitude toward God and things associated with Him.

          When Isaiah viewed God in His temple he exclaimed, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts" (Isa. 6:5 NKJV). In other places in the Bible we find the person in the presence of God at least in a kneeling position and often trembling. Even in the presence of angels or before disciples and apostles people became very humble and often knelt down.

          I think that attitude toward righteous authority is quickly disappearing in our churches. We seem to have the mindset that it really doesn't matter such that we tend to mix the common and profane with the holy and sanctified. Have we forgotten what happened to Nadab and Abihu when they mixed the common with the holy (Lev 10)? Awe and reverence doesn't seem to be what it used to be and that attitude is showing up in many areas, not just in dress code.

      • I am all for dressing appropriately in church - in whatever way our culture deems appropriate, which will be different in different parts of the country and different areas of the world.

        But I believe we would make a huge mistake and work directly counter to the mission of Christ if we started prescribing a dress code. I have seen serious and possibly eternal damage done to young people in the name of "helpful" advice regarding how to dress for church.

        I recall one very bright young teenager working for Microsoft in a certain US city. In summer he biked to the local Seventh-day Adventist church, in dress shorts and a nice button-up sports shirt. An elder took him aside and told him that he ought not to come to church like that. Being a polite young man, he complied and did "not come to church like that," nor any other way, for that matter. This left an indelible impression on him re what the Seventh-day Adventist church stood for. And for a great many years he did not go to any Seventh-day Adventist Church at all. Later, he was a founding member, along with his engineer friends, of a new "church plant" in another part of the country. These relatively affluent educated young adults poured themselves into the venture with youthful enthusiasm, but it would have gone a lot better with a little guidance from more experienced members, providing they had their priorities right. But all the young adults in the group just had way too many negative experiences with the "experienced" members of the church to ask for input. Not sure he goes to church at all now ..

        Many thousands of similar stories could be told. And surely Christ weeps ...

        Tyler made an insightful comment when he wrote: "To me that is because the real issue is our attitude toward God and things associated with Him."

        So I am making a serious appeal to our more experienced Seventh-day Adventists: Let us address this "attitude towards God." Let us model a God who is loving, approachable and holy. When people get to know our loving and holy God on a personal level, they will dress appropriately - even though their manner of dress may not suit us.

        Let us look to Jesus and how He treated people. The Bible records no instance of Him rebuking anyone for dressing inappropriately, even though it is likely that he may have seen Mary Magdalene dressed inappropriately. Instead, He addressed the need of the heart of those who dressed for attention.

        Those who underdress or overdress are generally just looking for love. And the cure is not a lecture on how to dress. The cure is love - to love them and to help them get to know a God who loves them infinitely.

        We can make a difference if we will pray that the mind of Jesus will be in us.

  13. The Son of Man had no home, no pillow for his head and no suitcase for a spare cloak for Sabbath. The Lord looks upon the heart of those who humbly come to him and not upon that which clothes. This does not mean we should treat the Lord Almighty with disrespect by not wearing the best we can. Remember the parable of the wedding feast where he who did not wear the wedding robes which were provided was not permitted to enter the wedding celebration. Let us never make a soul who enters the house of the Lord feel inadequate, unworthy or uncomfortable by what they wear but accept them into the fellowship of believers as Christ would.

  14. Excellent lesson. I have seen the poor and downtrodden be very proud. My brother was poor, beaten up at least 3 times and left for dead, slept in a box in a deserted field through a Michigan winter, was in and out of jail after being in prison and yet was proud. Too proud to detox and do what was asked of him. I have seen other poor people and not so poor people be very proud.
    There have been rich people in my life who were very kind, loving and generous. I think we need to be careful about our generalizations.

  15. I've read the comments that have posted and conclude they miss the main point that the lesson is suggesting. Because if one wants to be a follower of Christ no one has to tell that person how to dress. The problem lies however we forget the lesson we studied just two week ago, that too often we neglect to do what Jesus did 'meet the people where they were'. Sadly I want to do otherwise I always want to meet people where I think they should be (how sad).

    When one accepts the Saviour He provides The Robe of righteousness (His Character) for them to wear, they in turn will be Humble and become "ordinary people" doing "extra ordinary" things for the Master. I do believe (and pardon my limited knowledge) that when we comes in the presence of the Creator of the Universe we must look our best and dress the best because should we get the opportunity in an audience with President of the country in which we live, we would gone the last mile to dress accordingly. the point is when we are converted we will do what the Lord require and that includes the way we live, eat. drink, love one another and dress.


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