The Son of God was seen by the shepherds lying in the manger and Joseph was a carpenter for God did not want some royal house or people laying exclusive claim to Him. Everyone who saw Lord Jesus had a different perspective about Him. For Pilate He was ‘King of the Jews’, for the disciples the ‘Son of God’, for some the Messiah while for others the prophet with a healing touch. He is all of that and much more and each believer must recognize Him as His own – God, Redeemer and way to heaven but He Himself claimed to be a Servant.
Who exactly is He for me? – We create a separate identity of everyone we meet according to our experience of him. Lord Jesus healed a man blind from birth on the Sabbath and when others asked him he first identified the Lord as ‘a man called Jesus’. The Pharisees termed His ‘This Man is not from God’ while the healed man when asked by the Pharisees then identified Lord Jesus as ‘a prophet’ and the healed man said, ‘If this Man were not from God He could do nothing’ for God does not listen to sinners. Finally this man was told by the Lord His real identity as ‘Son of God and the man believed and ‘worshipped Him’ (John 9:1-38). Mary received the child as ‘Son of God and Son of David’ (Luke 1:32); the angels declared the child to be ‘a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11). For the Magi He was the ‘King of the Jews’ (Matthew 2:2). The twelve year child was seen by the religious scholars as a person with amazing knowledge and probably a future teacher and scholar of Scripture (Luke 2:46-48). John the Baptist saw Him as ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).
In the Holy Bible we have four Gospel accounts and each writer perceived a particular aspect of the Lord. The first one to write was Mark who wrote around AD 55 onwards and he revealed his own identity as ‘a young man having a linen cloth around his body’ who fled naked leaving the cloth behind, when others tried to catch him ((Mark 14:51-52). We have Luke’s Gospel written around AD 60 and Lord Jesus is revealed therein as a ‘Human Savior’ and emphasis is on disease and diagnosis with stress on Lord Jesus’ relationship with people, miracles, angels, inspired hymns of praise by Mary and Zechariah and prominence of women. The Gospel ends with caution from the Lord to wait ‘until you are endued with power from on High’ ((Luke 21:49) and then move in God’s power.
Matthew’s Gospel written around AD 60-65 is about Lord Jesus being the Messiah King and Son of David and the record is not chronological but as evidence to prove this to the Jewish audience. The Gospel ends with the King confirming His authority over everything giving command to go win the world, ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:18-19). This is similar to the command to man to go ‘fill the earth and subdue it’ (Genesis 1:28). John’s Gospel, written about AD 70, after destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, is about the Son of God and His eternal being with God the Father and the promise of eternal life. And it ends with the declaration that if all things about the Lord were written, ‘even the world could not contain the books that would be written’ (John 21:25).
Mark’s Gospel, being the first written account, is widely quoted by the other writers and except 31 verses, every other verse has been repeated in the other Gospels and Lord Jesus is revealed by him as the Servant of God. The Gospel starts with the Servant of God busy with His work and ends with the disciples preaching the Word everywhere, ‘the Lord working with them and confirming the Word through the accompanying signs’. Even after His ascension and glorification the Servant of God is seen as working here. Zebedee’s wife asked for a special consideration for her two sons, James and John, and the two also accepted their ability to drink from the Lord’s cup and the other ten disciples were ‘greatly displeased’. Lord Jesus then defined their expected role to be first, was to become a servant first. Lord Jesus then revealed His own role that ‘the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve’ asking the disciples to follow His example (Matthew 20:20-28).
What is being servant for a believer? – Servanthood is actually a state, quality or attitude of a person who willingly submits to another and seeks to meet his/her real needs to accomplish what is best for the other. For us this submission is to God and a willingness to serve God’s Kingdom in every possible manner. There are generally five types of servants and Greek word ‘therapeuo’ defines a servant’s attitude, his willingness and concern and is about service as an act of worship. The first, ‘latreuo’ is a servant for hire; ‘leitourgeo’ is a pulic servant or official; ‘huperetes’ is an assistant and ‘duolos’ is the slave. The Greek word used for servant here is ‘diakonos’ or the fifth kind which emphasizes ‘service motivated by love’ and ‘deacon’ is derived from this word (Matthew 20:26). Lord Jesus could have mentioned any of the first four categories but His choice is one with a motive to serve as an act of love for others. The quoted verse would then read, ‘But whoever desires to become great among you, let him be one whose actions are completely motivated by love for others’ (Matthew 20:26). Lord Jesus, as ‘the Servant’, preached this, lived this and desires this from us. The ‘good and faithful servant’ in the parable is one such person whose sole aim is to glorify his Lord without any personal ambitions of glory and is always on the lookout to correct any shortcoming in himself (Matthew 25:14-30).
Lord Jesus knew the prophesies about Himself and knowing well what Judas Iscariot would do, He washed his feet also, to bring him before God the Father to fulfill His pleasure ‘for it pleased the LORD to bruise the Son and put Him to grief’. ‘And He shall bear their inequities’ defines another aspect of the Servant’s role set by God (Isaiah 53:10-11). But this is not only about Lord Jesus; it is also about us who want to be in His image and likeness. Am I willing to take up my cross to bear the inequities of others, who will be always ready to heap their prejudices and failures on me, and then still pray for them, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’.
Hebrew word ‘saval’ used here means ‘to carry a load, to bear, to endure’ and is about God carrying His people, including bearing their inequities and punishments. Various commands in the Scripture about loving your neighbor; or Apostle Paul telling, ‘Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ’ or to pray for another etc are all about being a true servant (Galatians 6:2). Lord Jesus calls all ‘who labor and are heavy laden’ to transfer the load of their sins, sickness or lack onto His shoulders and that is what He expects from us also, to carry others’ loads. Our new life in Lord Jesus is about triumph of mercy and grace over justice and we must pay the price so that others can also experience this through our lives. Only then will the love and will of our ‘Father in Heaven’ shall be fulfilled in His children.
How do we prepare to serve others? – Lord Jesus asked John the Baptist to baptize Him ‘to fulfill all righteousness’ despite the fact that He was sinless and righteous. Baptism is about making commitment to be fully dedicated to God and public display of this action by the Lord resulted in ‘heavens were opened to Him’ and the Holy Spirit alighted on Him. Lord Jesus operated thereafter with the heavens open to Him. The Lord washed the disciples’ feet and Apostle Peter’s reluctance to let Him do that for Him was answered with, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me’. The disciples were also told to wash each other’s feet and this is taken as Lord Jesus’ servant work (John 13:3-17). Lord Jesus is identified as ‘Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’ (Hebrews 5:6). The Priest was required to prepare the sacrificial offering and ‘wash the entails and its legs with water’ whereas other parts were to be placed straight on the fire upon the altar. The washed parts were then be placed on the fire ‘a sweet aroma to the LORD’ (Leviticus 1:8-9). Lord Jesus’ warning to Apostle Peter concerned this aspect of preparation of the offering to God where the Lord presented His best to the Lord to be used for His Kingdom work on earth ‘as a sweet aroma’. ‘Korban’ or sacrifice means to ‘bring near’ and Lord Jesus brought the disciples near God the Father for His Kingdom work, for without Him nobody can.
How do we serve the Lord? – In Bethany Lord Jesus was welcomed into her house by Martha, and her sister Mary ‘sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word’. Martha wanted Mary to help her with the work to be told by the Lord, ‘One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part’. That good part is to hear His word and live that (Luke 10:38-42). After receiving news of Lazarus being sick, despite His love for the two sisters, ‘He stayed two more days in the place He was’. Four days after Lazarus’ death Lord Jesus reached Bethany and was first met by Martha who said, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know whatever You ask of God, God will give You’. Then Mary came and ‘fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died’. She used exactly the same words as Martha but on hearing Mary, the Lord ‘groaned in the spirit and was troubled’ and then He wept (John11:5-6 & 21-43).
Why did the words of one sister affect Him so much? – Mary did not seek anything but just made a faith statement after worshipping her Lord at His feet. Serving the Lord is about faith and being ready to serve rather than making demands. Mary anointed Lord Jesus’ feet with the costly oil of spikenard and wiped His feet with her hair. The Lord told the disciples that ‘she has kept this for the day of My burial’. Greek word ‘tereo’ is used and it means to ‘keep intact, preserve or spiritually guard’. Mary had received that one thing, spiritually guarded that and was sure of His resurrection on the third day and despite being very near Jerusalem, did not go on Sunday to His tomb. We want to serve Him with our deeds but that is not what He desires, He wants our commitment and surrender and that is done only at His feet. LORD God spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks o a friend and even after Moses left the tabernacle, Joshua would not depart. He stayed back busy in prayer and worship to be later chosen by God as Moses’ successor (Exodus 33:11).
King David after becoming king of Israel, looked for ‘someone from Saul’s house’ to ‘show the kindness of God’ to him (2 Samuel 9:3). After being told by Nathan, the prophet, about his sin with Bathsheba, David accepted his sin before God that ‘You (O, God) may be found just when You speak and blameless when You judge me (for this sin) (Psalm 51:4). At Meribah when the Israelites contended with Moses and Aaron for water, God commanded Moses to go and ‘speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield water’ but Moses hit the rock twice. Moses was then removed as leader of Israel to lead them into the Promised Land (Numbers 20:8-12). Moses did not have any complaint but blessed Israel to finally climb Mount Nebo to die before the LORD (Deuteronomy 33-34).
Service is not about opportune times but a continuous stay at His feet, available for whatever He commands, even punishment for one’s mistakes. It is not about carrying the yoke for a day or two but daily and to do it willingly in love. We are made a part of God’s family in faith and then how can we expect to be treated any different from His own Son? And we also cannot strive to do any less!!