“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Suffering Servant

THE SERVANT - Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. - Isaiah 53:1-7 -

In my last post I addressed some of the self-centeredness that seems to have prevaded the church; in this post I want to examine the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

While we are often consumed with the relative importance of our role in the local church, we should look to our Savior, the Lord of all creation, and listen to His words:

Mark 10:45 – “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Imagine, if you will, the Lord of all, the one described in Colossians 1:15–20 as “… the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross... humbling Himself, bowing to wash the feet of His disciples! The one who created their feet now stooped to wash them! This is the Savior who came to serve and not be served!!! And I, in my arrogance, often think I am deserving of more 'respect', or I am not 'appreciated'!

The Messiah Himself asks if we think we will be greater than the Master (Him)! What arrogance that we could have a Savior who gave up everything to serve, and we be so self-centered that our whole world revolves around us without a thought to our brothers and sisters!

When I reflect on the cross of Christ, and the fact that He came to SERVE by giving His life for me, I am ashamed of my attitude! 2nd Corinthians 8:9 - For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor so that you by his poverty might become rich. This verse says that He became a ptōcheuo; aka a beggar. For us, He emptied Himself and became a beggar.

In John 13, that amazing passage where Jesus Christ washes the disciples feet, we find Him saying this; “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him…”

The task of washing another’s feet in Messiah’s day was consigned to a servant – it was a lowly task. They did not have paved streets and well-shod shoes; rather they walked about in sandals on unpaved, dirt streets that were frequented by animals as well. The feet of one would be filthy upon entering a home, and it was customary that a servant would ensure that the guest’s feet were attended to. Interestingly, we do not see the disciples jumping up and offering to do this task: we are more like the disciples than we would sometimes like to admit!

How often do we think that many of the more mundane tasks around the church are too low for our station in life? Many of us come to church and never give a second thought to serving others. As a matter of fact, we have been conditioned to expect service, not provide it! Service SHOULD NOT BE consigned to the ‘pros’ in the church, but should be a watchword for every person who attends!

I looked through God’s Word and I cannot find anywhere in the Bible where people are instructed to be pew-warmers, or simply attendees. Everywhere we are instructed to be involved in ministry of some type. Maybe you don’t feel ready to jump into the deep end of ministry, but I will tell you, that, as a child of God, you are called to be in ministry at some level. Just as the Messiah instructed in John 13 – we are called to wash one another’s feet; now that does not necessarily mean literally, but in the many ways in which we can help one another, care for one another, lift one another up. My friends, we are on the mission field, and on the mission field we are to be holding one another up, and being an example to a lost and dying world, just as our Lord and Savior was!

No one pays much attention to the people who haul the garbage from our curbs, but when they go on strike, they suddenly become the most important people in the world! It is the same in our congregation – those who often go unnoticed are some of the ones who are most essential. Look around, begin noticing the workers at your church, and come alongside one of them, lifting them up in prayer and assisting them.

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