Summary: As we consider at Christmas the reasons Jesus came, service is near the top of the list, a self-giving service that led all the way to the cross.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem to serve, and servant-hood is the theme of this messianic prophecy. It has been called Isaiah’s “Servant Song.” The Servant is the anointed Messiah, the Lord Jesus, “Who being in very nature God...made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,” Philippians 2:7. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many," Matthew 20:28. As we consider at Christmas the reasons Jesus came, service is near the top of the list, a self-giving service that led all the way to the cross.
When Jesus was born, He was heralded as the King of kings and Lord of lords--yet He also held the lowly position of a servant. Prior to His coming, no ruler ever thought of himself in such modest terms. Kings yielded power and might, but servant-leadership was introduced by the Advent of Christ, a radically different kind of leadership. Kings forced new religions upon those they conquered, but Jesus does not. He invites, but does not coerce. Jesus is greater than any ruler, mightier than any warrior, nobler than any king, wiser than any sage--He is the ultimate Christmas gift!
Jesus was not born in a palace, but humbly born in a stable, which set the standard for His life, one in which He would operate, not from a position of strength but from one of gentleness and grace. He disarmed His enemies with self-giving love. True love sees service as a privilege. Rick Warren notes that spiritual maturity occurs when believers “take off the bib and put on an apron.” Babies wear bibs and need others to meet their needs. Those who don aprons have learned the joy of serving others. Selfishness makes Christmas a burden; love makes it a delight.
Bob Dylan sings: “You may be a construction worker, workin’ on a home; you may be livin’ in a mansion, you might live in a dome. You might own guns and you might even own tanks; you might be somebody’s landlord, you might even own banks--but you’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” Who are we serving?
One of the services Jesus provides is direction to directionless people. Jesus comes to people who have no driving passion, no goals, no objectives in life--and offers them purpose. He brings light to open blind eyes. And He brings hope to those enslaved by the idols of security, addiction, power. When life doesn’t make sense, Jesus offers meaning. Our search for significance ends at Bethlehem.
Isaiah says in verse 3 that this Servant won’t break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick. Jesus came to strengthen those who are weak and bruised, whose light is nearly extinguished—to give them hope. He quietly worked to announce the advent of God’s Kingdom. Unlike power-hungry conquerors, Jesus takes pity on the oppressed, and gives them justice.
We hardly need proof that we’re living in an unjust world. Headlines every week reveal that. The Bethlehem Babe suffered injustice for us. He didn’t come just to bring justice but to bear it--by taking the punishment of our sins. He both proclaims and establishes justice…and He will return to right every wrong in this broken world.
The world seems less broken in December. Christmas is a season of lights! In the bleakness of winter we find hope; our darkness is shattered by the birth of Christ. Every candle, every string of lights, points to the Light of the world Who came to a darkened world at Christmas, and His light shines in us.
Only a servant—not a general, a philosopher, or a scientist—only a servant could save the world. Jesus served, not with loud speeches calling attention to Himself, but by unassumingly working with individuals, by acts of compassion. And He did not treat anyone as unimportant; for Him there were no outsiders, no undesirables.
Jesus, the Servant-King, came to set everything right, to the delight of God-the-Father. As Jesus carried out the divine plan, we are to make the Father’s will our will. He has called us to live right and well. We find our joy in doing the work He has given us, for His glory. Winston Churchill noted: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
Christmas is a time to teach our children about servant-hood. Children often are led to believe the world revolves around them--especially at Christmas time. “Tis the season to be greedy.” One astute child noted, “It’s Jesus’ birthday, but I’m getting all the presents.” We can teach our children to care about the needs of others at Christmas, especially the less-fortunate. Kids can serve at home as well--by preparing holiday treats for others, by giving gifts, and helping with the setting up and cleaning up.