Jesus Did Not Demand the Respect Due Him


There is an athletic axiom that says, "If you can do it, it's not bragging." Respect is the coin of the realm in professional sports. Every tussle on the field or in the court has to do with respect. In many cases the respect players want for themselves is not warranted, because the players are conceited. Conceit by definition is to think more of yourself than is appropriate.

Jesus had no conceit in him. It would be one thing if he were not God and had insisted on being treated as a god or God himself. But he was God, yet he didn't insist that others respect him for who he was. The following verse captures an important aspect of Jesus' worldview: "Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to."[14]

Sadly, too many Christian leaders are enamored with their own importance, intelligence, and skills. They are preoccupied with being treated properly both at work and in social situations.

Listen to how Jesus talked with his Father about his followers and their future:

  • "I have guarded them."
  • "I taught them so they would be filled with joy."
  • "The world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world."
  • "I gave myself as a holy sacrifice so they can be made holy by your truth."
  • "I am praying not only for these disciples, but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message."
  • "I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me."[15]

But the ultimate act of selflessness has to be his statement, "May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me."[16] Jesus did not demand an exclusive relationship with his Father. He asked his Father to love his disciples at the same level the Father already loved him. This was the most important and precious relationship that Jesus had, yet he didn't insist on exclusive rights to his Father's best love.

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Let's try to put this into an earthly perspective. The marriage vows state, "Will you have this woman to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?[17] It is clear that the man taking this vow is giving preeminence to his wife; there will be no rivals. But then along comes children, and both husband and wife grant permission to each other to love the children as fully as they love each other. Any parent can tell you that you can't compare the love you feel for your spouse to the love you have for your children. Part of family pathology is when there is rivalry and jealousy with spouses or children. There is one thing we know for sure: The closer we get to the mind of Christ on this issue, the better for all those whom we love.


14. Philippians 2:6.
15. See John 17:12-14,19,21.
16. John 17:23, emphasis added.
17. The Book of Common Prayer (New York: Oxford, 1979), 424.

Written by Bill Hull

Taken from The Christian Leader by Bill Hull. Copyright © 2016 by Robert W. Hull. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Photo by Ivan Cabañas on Unsplash