A Servant’s Heart

A Servant’s Heart

John 13:1-9,

1. Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3. Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4. He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7. Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

Although I do not recall the source, I remember reading a life changing quote. Within the context of being a child of God and living the Christian life, the author wrote:

“You will never truly know if you are a servant until you are treated like one.”

The Lord Jesus, though He was rich (2 Corinthians 8:9), even the Son of God and therefore rightful ruler of the Universe (Matthew 28:18), He instead often affirmed to the disciples that He was but a servant (Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45). In fact, in the Old Testament, HaShem often called the Messiah His servant (Psalm 89:3 and 20, Isaiah 42:1, 43:10, 49:6, 52:13, Jeremiah 33:21-22 and 26, Ezekiel 34:23-24, 37:24-25, and Zechariah 3:8).

And so, Christ truly was the servant of the LORD.

But I want you to notice something. In the text above, which we often refer to merely as a proof that foot-washing is an instituted sacrament to be embraced and shared amongst us as believers, we tend to forget something. I would have you highlight the following verses:

John 13:6-9,

6. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7. Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

When we look at this passage, as it is often taught or communicated, it is usually only done so through the eyes of Simon Peter. We make comments about his stubbornness, his pride, his ego, and etc. We think how could Simon Peter be so belligerent as to not allow Jesus to wash his feet?

These are all valid points and have their place in our teaching and exhortation. But I say unto you, that this story is better told through the eyes of the Lord Jesus, as it reveals His heart as a servant.

When we think of servant, we usually think of someone performing some kind of menial, low dignity, sometimes forced labor. We sometimes think sweat-shops or we think maids, and housekeeping staff. Maybe the poor dishwasher behind the counter at the restaurant melting away under 120° heat comes to mind.

Sometimes we think slavery and all the horrific images associated. And sometimes we think the English butler and all the house staff of the royal aristocracy from a bygone era.

I don’t argue any of this, for each in their own way, accurately represents what it means to be a servant. But there is a greater, more important element at play.

Being a servant is not about the menial tasks. It’s not about the unpleasant, often undignified duties assigned by a superior. Yes, those may be the things a servant does. But that is not what a servant is.

The chief responsibility, in whatever form it takes (e.g. cooking, cleaning, errands, and etc.), is to represent the master in such a way as to make the master appear impeccable and worthy of recognition and high regard.

When a butler makes certain the glassware is polished before a state dinner, it’s not because a finger print on the glass is some great sin punishable by death. It’s because the host of the dinner has a reputation to uphold, and it’s the servant’s duty to make sure his or her master is honored by all who visit the estate.

When a housekeeper changes the linens and cleans a room, it’s not because it’s just a job and there isn’t something better to do with one’s life, it’s because the hotel owners need such tasks performed so that the clientele of the property will be fully satisfied and completely impressed with the cleanliness and orderliness of the establishment.

If the dishwasher fails at his or her task, and an unclean plate is presented to a customer, the chances of that customer being upset and never coming back is high.

We see therefore that these servants, if you will, have, in some regards, the most important job of all.

Christ as servant to HaShem, had the same responsibilities placed upon Him. It was His divinely assigned task to accurately represent God the Father to the world, and to serve Him faithfully in all things. It was Christ’s responsibility to make the Father appear impeccable, worthy of honor and glory, to the rest of the world (By the way, impeccable literally means without sin or the ability to sin).

Christ succeeded, for so the Father is: holy, righteous, impeccable, perfect, and completely deserving of all praise, glory, and worship.

But notice what Jesus does with Simon Peter. Though He has made Himself a servant, and has submitted Himself, according to the will of God, to a position at the table that is lower and more humble than Peter, as the servant, Jesus had the right to correct Peter’s understanding of how things really were.

In the working world, in whatever form servitude takes, it is the servant’s job to protect the dignity and reputation of the master (I know these may be unpleasant words, but they need to be used to make the point). If the master (or hotel owner, or the restaurateur, etc.) is about to do something foolish and ruin the reputation of the business, it is the servant’s responsibility to stand up, and discreetly if necessary, but in whatever way, keep them from making themselves look like idiots in front of their peers. It is a pig-headed employer who doesn’t heed the admonitions of the employees.

The servant is afforded the right to correct. In this one area, the servant has supreme authority. Although Jesus made Himself a servant and in front of Peter, appeared to be the lesser man, because He had so humbled Himself, He and He alone had the right, as Peter’s servant, to correct the Fisherman before he went and did something stupid, like remove himself from the Messianic community by not yielding to Christ as the slave the Father had sent.

What about us today? Are there servants in the church? Yes, absolutely. Do they get treated like servants? Most definitely. But, because they are the servants of the Lord and His Bride, guess what? They are then authorized by God to get in your way and keep you from saying or doing something foolish. They have the right to interfere, stand up, speak up, and correct your understanding.

Whether you realize it or not, they are protecting you from bringing ruination upon your life and faith.

1 Corinthians 7:22,

22. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant is the Lord’s freeman…

When one has been invited by the Lord to become His servant, when that man makes himself a slave to Christ, Christ then liberates that man to use His authority freely. If ever there is a man who has faithfully and greatly devoted and committed himself to be the slave of Christ, God makes sure that man has committed unto him great faith and power to work the works of God.

Now you see why the Apostles were so powerful and had the sovereign right to do and say what they did. It wasn’t because they were uppity wannabees thinking they were special and above the crowd. They didn’t pretend to be elite. They were slaves appointed unto death (1 Corinthians 4:9). With the exception of John, who was exiled and died on the prison island of Patmos, all of them were martyred, including Paul. And so we see, for making themselves last and the least of all the brethren, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ highly exalted them. It is their names, and no one else’s, which are inscribed upon the foundational walls of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14). These servants, who became the lowest of the low, were given thrones around the THRONE, upon which they would sit in judgment of the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:30).

This is the principle the servant understands:

Matthew 10:24-25,

24. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
25. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord…

Matthew 23:11-12,

11. …he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Through genuine service rendered unto God, the Father Himself will promote, just like He promoted Christ, to a place of high exaltation. They do not take headship over Christ, but they become like Him. They are placed on equal footing. They are One with Him (John 17:18-23).

No, they are not the Saviors of the World. No, no servant of God is going to die for our sins. They are not the Messiah, and will not be determining who does or doesn’t get into Heaven.

But these servants are going to sit with Him and reign in and from Christ’s throne, even as He sits and reigns in and from His Father’s throne (Revelation 3:21).

And they will have an amazing, important part to play in the salvation of the world.

1 Corinthians 9:19 and 22b,

19. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more…[and]…that I might by all means save some.

The bottom-line is this:

There are undoubtedly servants in the church, placed there by God. They are more often than not, undoubtedly treated like servants. They do many menial tasks no one else is willing to do. They care about the little things. They are not, in and of themselves, worthy of much honor (Compare to 1 Corinthians 12:22-23). But God has, in His kingdom and in His view, highly exalted them.

So the point is, just like with Jesus correcting Simon Peter, if any man in the church has been invited to be the Lord’s servant, they, like Jesus with Peter, have the right to step in and correct you.

They have your best interests in mind. They aren’t showboating. They aren’t doing it to gloat or, as Paul said, to have dominion over your faith (2 Corinthians 1:24). They aren’t trying to run and micro-manage your life.

They are trying to preserve your soul and present your harmless and blameless, without rebuke, as a son or daughter of God (Philippians 2:15).

They are guarding your reputation and are desperately trying to help you attain impeccability, that is, sinless perfection, just like Jesus, so that when He appears, you will be ready to meet Him.

1 Thessalonians 3:7-13,

7. Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
8. For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
9. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
10. Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
11. Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
12. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
13. To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

Advertisements

~ by votivesoul on 12/05/2013.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Mark Showalter's Blog

Always seeking to know God more

Theo-sophical Ruminations

A collage of theological and philosophical musings

%d bloggers like this: