Summary: Jesus gives us the perfect model of a servant leader.

LUKE 23:33-43


BY: Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport

News, VA

There is a song by the rock band, Gethro Tulle in which some of the lyrics say something

like this, “If Jesus saves, why didn’t He save Himself?”

And unfortunately, I’m afraid that this is the view that many people take on the

crucifixion of Christ.

But if this is our view, then we’ve completely missed the point.

The crucifixion was actually the summit of sin and love.

In the simplest terms, Christ was crucified for our sins in order to bring us to God.

As the Bible says in 1st Peter chapter 2, Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His body on the

tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been


Jesus had no intention of saving Himself....this is not why He came to earth....instead He

came to earth in order to save us!

And this is exactly what He did.

Jesus Christ is the perfect model of a servant leader.

Today, leaders of commerce, industry, government, education, and the church are

learning about the principles and tools of servant leadership because they are effective and do

not create losers or enemies.

And as disciples in the church of Christ we are all called to emulate the enlightened

servant leadership of our Lord Jesus Christ!

So what is a servant leader? I know that the term sounds like a contradiction, but we only

have to read a few gospel passages in order to get some understanding.

For example, in the Gospel of Mark, James and John asked Jesus if they could be the

ones to sit at the right and left of Christ in His glory, and Jesus replied, “You know that those

who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise

authority over them. Not so with you.”

Have any of you ever had bosses who were so consumed by their power that they lorded

it over on you?

I have. Maybe some of you have bosses right now who are like this.

But Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and

whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a

ransom for many.”

What a radical departure this is from the way so many of us operate.

In order to get ahead, in order to be in charge, in order to climb up the next rung in the

ladder so many of us are willing to step on so many people’s hearts and heads. It’s like, “Do

anything to get ahead. You have to push your way through if you want to get anywhere in life.”

But this is not true in the kingdom of heaven, and this is not even true hear on earth.

The old adage that “Nice people finish last is definitely not true!”

As a matter of fact we have many examples of contemporary leaders who have used

the model of Jesus’ servant leadership.

Jimmy Carter is a great example. He builds houses for the less fortunate, and works to

resolve disputes between nations in the name of peace.

And Mother Teresa dedicated her life to serving the poorest of the poor in the name of


Martin Luther King, Jr.’s courage and vision still influences the struggle for civil rights

over thirty years after his death.

And since true servant leadership tends to be selfless, many servant leaders are not well

known but they are known by God, and after all that is what really matters.

In our Scripture lesson for today, we see Christ giving us the model of ultimate servant


As Christ was suffering the most horrible of deaths, He actually prayed for those who

were doing this to Him, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Oh, the grace and love and understanding of Our Lord Jesus Christ is so unbelievably

and exceedingly great!

It’s hard enough for us to forgive someone who unknowingly cuts us off in traffic, or

forgive another church member who unintentionally hurts our feelings, but Jesus forgave those

who were putting Him to death, who were dividing up his clothing, who were mocking Him

and sneering at Him.

Now there is someone for us to try and emulate!

And we see in verse 35, that as the people stood watching this humiliating execution,

“They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”

Kind of sounds like that Jethro Tulle song, doesn’t it?

Kind of sounds like what many people still think about this ultimate act of love today.

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