Jesus as Servant

I was asked to speak at my church youth group about Jesus as a Servant. To be honest, although I knew the phrase “Jesus came to serve not to be served”, probably mainly through having heard and played Graham Kendrick’s The Servant King, I had never really though about it much.

I understand to worship Jesus as God, I know to come under the authority and protection of Jesus as King, I know that Jesus as Man understands me, my life, and has grace for me. But I have never considered whether or not I actually let Jesus as Servant, serve me?

These four characteristics of Jesus, God, King, Man, Servant are often associated with each of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), with each Evangelist (Gospel writer) writing about Jesus from the perspective of a different one of His characteristics. However, different people seem to associate different Gospels with different characteristics [Wikipedia, Joseph Prince, etc].

(Of additional interest, each of the characteristics and each gospel writer, is also associated with an animal – Eagle (God), Lion (King), Ox (Servant), Man (Man). These animals appear a number of times throughout the Bible [Ezekiel 1:10, Revelation 4:7]. Also in Jewish history [Garland 4.7.2], the Camp of Israel described in the book of Numbers may have used these animals on their banners.)

However, regarding Jesus as Servant, let us first look at the biblical reference to this. Jesus himself emphasised it to the disciples [Matthew 20:26-28],

whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve

referring to himself as “the Son of Man” He claimed that He came to serve not be served. Also in [Luke 22:27],

For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

Jesus states that He is among the disciples (and us) as one who serves.

At the evening meal just before passover, as recorded in [John 13:2-5 & 13-16], Jesus famously washes His disciples feet. Taking the role of a house slave or servant, Jesus washes and dries the feet of each disciple. The significance of this is probably lost slightly in today’s western society, although we still think a foot wash and massage is very pleasant. At this time in history people walked all day in sandals on hot dusty roads, and it was customary [Wikipedia] to offer a guest water for washing their feet.

A modern-day parallel might be imagined where, when you arrive at a friend’s birthday party, the birthday boy (or girl) washes your car for you. Or maybe they have asked you to a high class restaurant to celebrate and it is the birthday person (rather than a waiter/waitress) who serves the table bringing you menus, food, and perhaps a hand washing bowl.

The two parables told by Jesus from [Luke 14:8-14] imply that putting others before yourself and not giving to or serving those who will repay in kind is the approach He would want people to take.

Not forgetting, of course, the many acts of service actually performed by Jesus – healing, other miracles, teaching, and the biggest act of service of them all – paying the consequences of our bad choices by dying on the cross.

Jesus clearly came to serve. He clearly served whilst physically among us, and clearly emphasised and taught that we should serve each other.

Servanthood is not only a New Testament idea; King David, of Old Testament renown, wrote many of the Psalms, in which he frequently refers to himself as a servant and elsewhere is referred to as a man after Gods own heart – despite the many mistakes he seemed to make in his life.

There are many other examples of people serving in Old and New Testament writings. Even in our current modern-day life, many people talk of themselves as serving, in the police or fire service, in the military, in politics etc. But as Joseph Prince states, all these people have flaws. There is only one perfect servant – Jesus – and it is from Him that we should take our example. As implied in [John 13:3],

It is only those people who truly know that they have everything from God, and who understand their importance to God, that are able to stoop down and perfectly serve – serving out of the overflow of their revelation regarding Gods love for them.

This is how Jesus served during His time among us. Given His resurrection and the consistency of God, this must be how He still desires to serve us. He still wants and is able to serve me, teaching me, healing me, and providing for my needs. His payment for the cost of my ongoing mistakes still stands (His original payment on the cross stands for all people for all time).

So in addition to obeying His asking of us to serve one another, I really should allow Him to serve me and enjoy His gift of service.

Friendship: God's way

Eternity abounds with God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost
“Relationship between us three is great”, He states,
“This is so good, why don’t we share and spread our love
Let us create a universe, worlds, and men to be our mates.”

The word is spoken, breath is breathed and all around is formed
In to it all God puts Himself and His creative spark of life
Light and dark, Heaven and earth, water land and sky
To rule it all, and with free choice, Man with his fantastic wife.

Adam and Eve, the first to be, live in peace and walk with God
A perfect time, until they make their first bad choice
Their Maker, hurt and sad, knows that He must give them time
To be alone and work it out, whilst He prepares a gift of grace

From bad to worse at first it goes, brothers war and kill
Mankind turns bad and God cries out “What have we done?
Do I need to start again?” Not all is broken, a friend I have
A righteous man amongst them all, Noah is the one.

“Noah, build a massive boat. Save creation from the flood.
I will destroy the evil men, but you and yours will be the seed,”
The earth is cleaned, creation kept, safe within a boat,
And our loving Maker says, “Never again will I do this deed.”

Mankind prospers, increases, spreads across the earth
God does not forget His friend, and puts His plan in motion.
Relationship is in His mind, He wants to give of grace and love;
To declare His main intent, Israel becomes the chosen nation

The nation forms around good men – Abraham and all his line
Jacob finds he has 12 kids, and favour all to Joseph does he show.
The others do not like this much, Joseph nearly loses all,
Though he wins out in the end and off to Egypt they all go.

Egypt is great for a wee while, it feeds them all through famine time.
The local folk though treat them harsh, to slavery the Israelites succumb.
Until the time a hero rises, Moses, man of faith, a leader great, is born
He leads God’s people free, although their choices still are dumb.

To a promised land of milk and honey they arrive,
Joshua, the hero now, leads them in. “With God we fear nothing!”
They settle, happy in the land, living under Priest and Judge,
Until they look at other nations, then they find they want a King

Saul and David, mighty Kings, rule the land and win some wars.
Peace comes at last with Solomon, the wisest of the three
He builds God’s temple with his wealth, plenty to go round
Israel’s fair golden time, the people prosper and are free

Then they start to fight within, a split occurs, the nation parts.
Divided now, Israel and Judah, two peoples and two kings
Neither of them pay much heed, or listen to their loving God.
Prophets come and speak for Him, foretelling many things.

Assyria, then Persia too, fight and conquer all the land
The Israelites are exiled from their hearth and home,
Yet God does not abandon them, He has many plans.
Prophets still do speak and tell of mighty things to come.

Daniel, whilst in Babylon, honours God in all he does,
Along with three who do not burn, fire proof they seem to be.
They bring a witness of their God, on whom they all rely.
Daniel nearly dies, but has a way with cats and thus he is set free.

Esther and a man who has a passion for Jerusalem’s fine walls
Trusting in their God, speak to kings and Israel comes home;
Rebuilding temple, city, and the walls, the nation they reform,
Until once more Israel does fall, this time to mighty Rome.

The Romans conquer all of Israel, but God is fine with this
Its all part of his great plan, He knows that they prepare the way
A way foretold by prophets, a way He planned right from start.
Creation holds its breath with joy, waiting for that glorious day.

The day to come when God restores the friendship that was lost.
God loves His friend, longs to be close and He feels that friendship’s loss.
He knows there is nothing man can do, so because He loves
To make things right for ever more, He himself will hang upon a cross.

author: Dr David H. Akehurst

(originally written as part of C7 Leadership Academy course work)