Summary: What did Jesus teach? Servant hood. Throughout His life He always put others first before Himself. Everyday He would spend time with His Father alone in prayer to prepare Himself for His day ahead, in teaching, healing, praying, but mostly serving.
Who among us does not want to be recognized for something? We long for human affirmation. We want to be recognized for a job well done, for boldly helping others, for supporting a cause we believe in. It is our nature, our human nature, but the words of Christ teach us otherwise.
Within the four Gospels as we study the life of Jesus, He quietly teaches about serving. Throughout His ministry, this was His theme. He chose a dozen men who were driven and successful in their trades and taught them what was most important in their brief existence here on this earth. And what is most important? According to the world’s standards we are to achieve, to push forward, to excel at any cost, to acquire, to gain, to secure, to manage, and the list goes on and on. Yet Jesus spoke of different words. Throughout His teaching He never mentioned these words in the context in which we know them. In fact, His words represented quite the opposite.
God Himself, in human form walked this earth to serve and not be served. We read this in the scripture reading this morning. If there was ever anyone who should be recognized for His ultimate greatness it would be Jesus, yet He taught otherwise. “I did not come to be served, but to serve.”
In our scripture reading Jesus is teaching His disciples a lesson about ambition. He is teaching this lesson at a time of His life where He had less than a week left here on earth. He is walking with His disciples from Jericho about 20 miles through the hills to Jerusalem. He had walked this rocky road many times throughout His life, yet this would be His last, as He would make His triumphal entry into the Holy City.
And what was He teaching? Servant hood. Throughout His life He always put others first before Himself. Everyday He would spend time with His Father alone in prayer to prepare Himself for His day ahead, in teaching, healing, praying, but mostly serving.
I am reminded of motivational and inspirational speakers today. These are men and women who clearly have a message and are greatly admired for their accomplishments and stature. For instance, Troy Aikman, football great with the Dallas Cowboys, or Pat Riley former Laker coach and coach of the Miami Heat, or Steve Young hall of fame quarterback with the San Francisco 49’ers only charge $40,000 + per appearance. Or Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon will make an appearance for the same. Lance Armstrong, Bill Clinton, celebrities, writers, pastors, there is a big market for accomplished speakers. And what about Jesus?
When He spoke to the multitudes on the mountainside next to the Sea of Galilee, how much was the price of admission? When He fed thousands of people after a time of teaching, how much did He charge? Imagine the publicity, the advertising, the promotion?
In his book, “Improving Your Serve” by author, pastor, teacher Chuck Swindoll he writes the following: “Recently I received in my daily stack of mail a multicolored brochure advertising and announcing a series of lectures to be delivered in Los Angeles by a man (a Christian ‘superstar’) who has travelled widely, whose name is familiar to most folks in the family of God.” He goes on to say that “I must confess that I lifted my eyebrows with surprise when I read these words written in the brochure describing the man – A phenomenal individual – In great demand around the world – Today’s most sought after speaker!” That’s a far cry from the way Jesus Christ described Himself.
In searching scripture, there is only one place where Jesus Christ, in His own words, describes Himself. In doing so, He uses only two words, two words that we should strive to apply to our lives. These two words are not phenomenal or great, although they could be in describing Jesus, but certainly not in His own words. He doesn’t even mention anywhere that He was sought after as a speaker, yet how many hundreds of thousands if not millions of people did He encounter in His lifetime of ministry? Although it’s true, He doesn’t say “I am wise and powerful” or “I am Holy and eternal” or “I am all-knowing and absolute deity.” Do you know what He said? These two words are found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 11 verses 28 and 29. “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.”
I am gentle and I am humble. Gentle and humble. Gentle means ‘strength under control’ – like a wild stallion that has been tamed. Humble in heart means lowly – the picture of a helper. Unselfish and thoughtful. The gentle and humble nature of Jesus is nowhere more evident in the account of John chapter 13 verses 1-5 where Jesus washed the feet of His disciples – true servant hood. It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.