Impressions from God's Word 60
"…and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:27-28
Key verses: Matthew 20:27-28; John 13:1-17
Key personalities: Jesus, and the Disciples
Timeline: The God of Eternity; He enters as a Man, being fully God and fully Man, walks this earth as our Lead, 28-29 A.D.
Jesus does the extraordinary when He took a towel to wash His disciples' feet. He completely redefined what leadership and service are. He made the point that these roles are not about position or pride in the world, but rather about our position in Him. A bowl and towel would be perfect because they represent service--The Ultimate Servant, Christ, not only washed His disciple's feet but washes the sins of the entire world by His very own blood. Christ came to serve to exemplify service. True service is a response, just as our Lord demonstrated. It comes from our gratitude in realizing who Christ is, what He has shown us we can do, and our opportunities and our response in gladness to those around us (Matt. 20:27-28; Luke 22:27; John 12:25-26; 13:2-5; Phil. 2:1-4).
Key Happenings: Jesus is the example of Leadership and humble service.
Disciples normally served the teacher. In the Gospels, the Teacher serves the Disciples. This is the model for the effective Christian leader who serves the people and God by modeling and pointing to Christ. Leaders are servants who model servanthood for a greater purpose. A Christian leader must always remember that first and foremost, he or she is a servant of God. It is God who then uses us to serve others! We are never to lord any power and position over others; we are to nurture as a shepherd does, as Christ has modeled for us. A prideful and a "force of will" leader is never from God and should never be in control of His churches.
In Matthew 20, the context is of His pending sacrifice and our response of discipleship and growth in Christ as characterized by humbleness and service (1 Pet. 5:10).
· To serve. This is an image from Isaiah's Suffering Servant (Isa. 53:10-12). This also means that since Jesus the Master served, what excuse do we have not to? If Jesus Himself came to serve, how much more should we? Do we (2 Cor. 4:5; Phil. 4:12)?
Jesus is the One who serves. The blind men knew this! The blind men knew what they needed and wanted--they desired and required more than alms. They kept their focus and did not let the crowds sway them from the path. They exhibited determination and hope, two essential characters that help keep us rooted in our faith and our eyes upon our Lord. We are called to remain persistent in prayer. When our determination and hope takes the right path in God's will, the test will be where the focus is. Is the focus just on you or on His glory? Are we maturing and then pouring our lives into others? We need to be careful that our persistence is not selfish. It must seek the cup, not the throne. We already have the throne. It is ours, it is waiting; we do not need to seek it once we are saved. Keep your faith real so that your devotions and prayer life are not always focused on selfish concerns. Our prayers are to train us in intimacy and focus on Christ--not just to seek what we can get (Heb. 4:14-16)!
Those of us in ministry are never to look at ourselves as above others because we are not; we serve Him who serves! A prideful church leader is a heinous sight before our Lord and is the one who is truly blind! Blind to His Word! A leader is to lead others into the depths and precepts of Christ, and is not superior in any way. How do we lead with humility? We do this by our love for the Lord empowering our love for others (Gal. 2:20-21; 2 Cor. 4:5; Phil 4:12)!
In John 13:1-17, the context is set in the Passover festivities. Jesus knows His time on earth is almost over, so He takes an opportunity, during the eve of His betrayal and coming crucifixion, to teach a powerful lesson of servanthood and humility. In so doing, He shows what real love is by the fruits of it--humility and service. A lot was going on; two of His most trusted Disciples were going to betray Him--one disciple would betray Him overtly and one from fear and panic. He knows what His mission is and that His power and authority are assured. He gets up from the table to do what only the lowest of slaves would do: Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Savior of the World, kneeled down to wash His Disciples feet. As you can imagine, this caused a reaction of concept for the prideful (like Judas) and wonderment to the devotees. Jesus said, "If you do not allow me to serve, you cannot belong to me... A servant is not greater than his master, nor is the message more important that the one who sent it. You know this; so do as you have been taught and you will be blessed!"
Jesus' example was about to show His sacrifice for our sins! He took on the righteous wrath of God for sin and paid the penalty, sacrificing Himself for us. Jesus not only set the example, but more importantly, He redeemed us. Christ was the innocent, sacrificial lamb, "propitiation," who died for the guilty--you and me and all of mankind, for our sins (Isa 53:4-12; Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:21-26; 1Cor. 1:23-25; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 9:15). 1 Pet. 2:18-25)!
Jesus as a servant is a showcase to His role as Redeemer. Culturally, people were seated by their social rank; a Rabbi would usually have an honored position. For Jesus to get up from that position was an infringement to the social statutes of the times and an insult to any religious leader who may have observed it. This was a gesture of humility that was culturally honored, but rarely practiced, especially by people who would be considered elite. Who is more elite than God? None. This is why Peter objected so. He was not being disrespectful; he was trying to protect Jesus' dignity. Jesus wanted to teach him a grander lesson.
Service is an Aspect of Learning and Applying our Spiritual Gifts! We are called to use whatever means we can to practice our spiritual gifts and realize that the diversity we have is beneficial for one another. We are to be charitable and generous to others with what Christ has given us, and serve Him without being held back by fear or lack of time or of talents. As Christians, we are to typify both faith and reason so we exhibit the maturity needed to make wise decisions and have a purpose in life. This also includes directly caring for those in need, such as the sick, infirmed, and poor. Christians, we are called to go beyond ourselves to serve others well (Titus 2). Kindness is the proof of authenticity (Rom. 2:1-4; 12:4-21; 16:1; 1 Cor. 12:7-11; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:16-23)!
God did not save us to be self-centered; He saved us out of love and for love to be His ambassadors wherever we are and whenever we go!
Service is not to please people, but to please God with all our heart! It is not about getting public opinion or people on our side; it is leaning on God's side (Deut. 6:13; Psalm 100:2; Matt. 20:27-28; John 13:1-17; Rom. 12:1-31; 1 Cor. 4:1-2; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Eph. 4:9-13; 6:5; Heb. 9:14; 1 Peter 2:16; 4:10)!
We are called to serve! Service means we are committed to serving others as Jesus called and exemplified. Our service is a response as we look at what we do. This is not about salvation; it is about our response to God. This is about duty; it is about allowing our love for the Lord to flow into us from Him and then to others around us. Service builds and prepares us to be stronger in character and in fulfilling our responsibility for His Kingdom. Service also nurtures and strengthens us as a means of grace; as we grow, we serve. The more we serve, the more Christ-like we become. This is about using the best of what God has given to us, being obedient to Him, and serving Him. We are all called to serve, not as just pastors or Christian professionals, but as our relationship with Christ is woven into all that we do in life.
There is a danger for the Christian to sit in a pew, learn all we can, take comfort in that knowledge, but never do anything with it. We become "fat sheep" who are not exercising our precepts from Him to serve Him. This is the church that refuses to evangelize, and the Christians who refuse to share their faith, or model Christ on Mondays as well as Sundays. Be aware that these will be harshly judged; they are no better than the Pharisees. The proof test is this: Do you use people, or do you serve them? Have you just gathered information, or do you apply it? If you think this does not apply to you, consider that if you are not helping or being a part of a solution of growing in Christ and helping others do so too, then you are in apathy, or maybe have a skewed entitlement mentality (Hos. 6:6; Mica. 6:6-8; Matt. 12 9-14; James 1:21-27)!
Key Takeaway: To be like Christ, we must serve as He taught and showed us. The key to being a good servant with good service is to keep our eyes on Christ--not on the whims of our hearts, or the wiles of the world, or even what other Christians may say and preach. It is upon Him only that our eyes should be focused. This will enable us to use the best of our talents, gifts, and abilities God has given to us so we can be obedient to Him and better serve Him.
Service is all about gratitude. It is what Jesus has done for me so I can ask the question what can I do for Him? What would Jesus have me do with character, Fruit, hands on application, or even getting my hands dirty to do what I would not normally desire to do? How much impact has your Christian faith had in your relationships with others and the work you do? What about in the world outside of the church? These questions will help you determine to what extent Christ is real and working in you. In addition, you can conclude to what capacity of service you have engaged and what is missing. The way we live our lives in response to what Christ has done for us is the key to living as a Christian. Service does not save us, of course; it is a fruit of our obedience.
If we claim to know Christ as Lord and hang in His Church, we must yearn to imitate Him and follow His precepts, especially when we lead others! This happens when we show the faith to permanently leave our sinful lives, and with overwhelming gratitude, follow Jesus. We must first follow before we can lead. We are never to be unfaithful, prideful, manipulative, or abusive to the people God gives us to care for, for such an act is wicked and we will be held to a strict accounting (Jer. 23:1-2; 31:34; Ezek. 34:11-31; Mic. 5:4; 6:8; Hos. 6:6; John 15 and16; 17:21-23).
We can either be a blessing to others or we can ignore them. However, we cannot be that blessing if we are not following Christ and taking heed of His example, His grace, and His love so we have the desire to respond. Otherwise, our own plans will fill that gap and will get the best of us. The sins of others and the sins of our heart will break us down and take us over unless we focus on Christ, His ways, and His path.
The Call to the Church? Be the Example! We are called to show others and influence and shepherd them, not just tell them. Christian leaders are responsible to care for God's people with faithfulness and honor, and never out of harsh or improper motivations! Jesus is our archetype and pattern for who we are and what we are to do all in love and humility. We can trust Christ to lead us; with Him, we can lead others in the same manner. Jesus calls us by first demonstrating to the Disciples to participate in and spread the kingdom of God, focusing and developing others for Him by service, example, and humility (Matt. 23; 2 Cor. 5:20).
Questions to Ponder
Do you see people as products to use or do you see them as to serve them?
What are some examples of servant ministry that you have seen? How did they impact you? What have you done with being an example of humble service?
How are discipleship and growth in Christ characterized by humbleness and service? How have you exhibited this? How have you failed (we all do at times)?
What do you want Jesus to do for you? Jesus Himself came to serve, how much more should we? Do we do this in our Church? If not, why not?
Service is all about gratitude. It is what Jesus has done for me, so what can I do for Him?
How is your service? Are you chasing your desires or our Lord?
Why must our leadership be learned first being a child and a servant of Christ? What happens when we just look to ourselves and others?
How does our response to Christ determine what direction in life you will go?
What happens when Christian leaders are first and foremost servants of God who use us to serve others? What happens when we forget?
Have you made a response to the Kingdom of God? If not, what is holding you back?
Are you and your church maturing and then pouring your lives into others? If not, why? How can your church do a better job at this vital call from our Lord?
If we claim to know Christ as Lord and hang in His Church, we must yearn to imitate Him and follow His precepts, especially when we lead others!
© 2015 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org