Summary: A brief discription of what servanthood should really mean.
In this day of “It’s all about me” philosophy we find many Christian ministries strongly emphasizing the things we are promised that we have as a Christian. So much so, that some are led to believe that everything in the Christian walk revolves around the individual and all the focus should be on how to obtain those promises that Christ has made to us. I believe in this teaching we miss one of the strongest points Jesus made about how we are to live our Christian lives.
Let’s look at the Gospel of John Chapter 13 verses 1-13. The scene is a familiar one to most, Jesus and His disciples are having supper. During the meal, Jesus got up, took off his outer garment, and wrapped a long servant’s towel around Himself, filled a basin with water and began to wash His disciple’s feet. He continued until He had washed the feet of each of the disciples (even the feet of Judas Iscariot whom He knew would soon betray Him). This was a job reserved for the lowliest servant yet Jesus willingly performed it for those who followed after Him. How unusual that the One who should have been worshipped would humbly kneel before each of those who followed Him and perform such an act. It was an act of humility and one of servant hood. It was also an example to those disciples and for those who would follow after them. Let’s look at verses 15 though 17 in this same chapter. Jesus says to the disciples, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Notice that He has set an obvious example for them to follow His example of being a loving servant. He, the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One of God, has showed them the attitude they should have toward one another and that attitude should not be it is all about their own self importance but rather all about serving one another and serving God.
Now let me take you to another scene, Christ has been crucified and has risen from the dead and He now appears to His disciples after they had spent the night fishing, to no avail, on the Sea of Tiberias. We can see this in Johns Gospel Chapter 21 verses 1-12. When the disciples reach the shore we see Jesus already has a fire going and He has fish and bread cooking (vs. 9). Let’s see what He did next. “Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” He served them the bread and fish! He served them! This is Jesus, the Christ, Messiah, The Anointed One of God, the One risen from the dead. In our world we would expect such a one to sit down and say, “Serve Me first, then you can eat” but this is not the way which Christ chose to do things. Instead He chose to maintain the same attitude He had during His Earthly ministry. He was the servant, He chose to serve others, He put others before Himself. Shouldn’t we seek to follow His example and become humble servants by putting others first? Let’s break away from the “me first” teachings that are out there today and focus our teaching on the clear Biblical example set by our Lord. Remember His teaching in Matthew Chapter 23 vs. 11&12. “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
The next time you are watching your favorite TV evangelist ask yourself, “Is this the kind of person who would kneel at the feet of his followers and wash their feet?” If your answer is “No” then it is time to get back to following Jesus Himself and doing the things that He said we are to do. He said, “Follow Me” and that means that we and all those who carry His message are to line up with His examples and do as He did. It means that our pride is not to get in the way. Following Jesus means that we will take the path the Lord Himself took--the pathway of servanthood.