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  Copyright ©1997 by Elton Smith and Larry Holder

Christ's Lordship Demands Our Servanthood

The Bible, our supreme guild for living, has much to say concerning being a servant. God has often empowered those who did not think too highly of themselves. People such as Gideon hiding in the threshing floor, or David tending sheep in the backlot caught God's attention and were mightily used of Him.

In many of our Pentecostal-Charismatic circles the message of submission and voluntary humility has been replaced by teachings that appeal to our greed and pride. It is good to to stress our privileges in Christ, but we must never forget our responsibilities.

Some ministries even go so far as to try and prove that Jesus was rich. This teaching is often employed in an effort to get people to put up seed money on the assumption that God will give them a guaranteed return on their giving. Teachings such as this may appeal to the vanity of some, but they subvert the gospel. Their message is appealing because it is the sinful nature of man to try and buy the things of God rather than submitting to God's will. It has often been said that if salvation cost money, there would be many more seekers.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus detailed our need for total reliance on God and to lose our life in Him. It is only by dying with Christ that we can have hope of resurrection and exaltation. It is a indeed a paradox that we are both sons and servants, but not any more so than Jesus being both Almighty God and a Suffering Servant. Jesus was exalted because He denied Himself to fulfill God's will. The only biblical way for us to obtain exaltation is to do likewise.

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

The Greek and Hebrew words used for servant in the bible have several connotations, such as: to serve, to work, to attend, to minister, and to be a slave. Scripture shows us that Jesus fulfilled every one of these definitions.

Jesus came to serve.

Isaiah 42:1. Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, [in whom] my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

Jesus came to work.

John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

Jesus came to minister.

Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Jesus came as a slave.

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

The centurion who came to Jesus, seeking healing for his servant, gave a very good definition of Lordship,

Matthew 8:9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this [man], Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth [it].

The crux of the gospel is that God declared that we were to love Him as the One Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus, by His resurrection was declared to be both Lord and Christ. He is coming again as Lord to judge the living and the dead. If I decide to walk any other way than that of submission, I am raising myself up in the place of God; and that is idolatry.

God declares that although He was High and Lofty, He sought to dwell with those of a meek and lowly nature.

Isaiah 57;15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

We are promised that if we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, we will be exalted in due time.

I Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Jesus, in His human nature, serves as our example of what a servant should be. Prophecy declares Him as a servant who would not be given to strife and debate.

Isaiah 42:1 ¶ Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth:and the isles shall wait for his law.

He would come with the anointing of God for a purpose.

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Rather than indulge Himself because of His Deity, He actively sought to know and do the will of God. He bore our reproaches and was touched with the feeling of our infirmity. He went seeking the lost so that they might be saved. Although He was rich, He became poor for our sakes, and preached the gospel of the Kingdom to those who had lost all hope. He went to the prison house and released us. When He found us bound and fettered, He released the fetters.

Jesus, in His death, showed His servanthood. He set His face as a flint toward Jerusalem, knowing that death awaited Him. In the garden, He declared to the Father that He was willing to submit His human will to Him. As Philippians 2:8 so beautifully states, "Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross." Jesus did not cease to be God in His humiliation. Only the great can voluntarily humble themselves to such an extent. Because of His voluntary humiliation, He has been exalted to the throne of heaven. It will be here that every creature in heaven, earth, and hell will bow to Him and confess Him as absolute Lord, King of kings, and Lord of Lords.

Jesus stated in Matthew 20;25-28 that if any man desired greatness he would have to be a servant to those around him. This was spoken to the wife of Zebedee who desired a position of greatness for her two sons, James and John. Jesus let it be known that they were asking in carnality and ignorance. Although he did not promise them any particular position in the Kingdom, He did promise them that they would share in His compassion and also in His suffering. It is interesting to note their carnality at this point compared to their attitudes after being filled with the Holy Ghost. If Jesus had granted their request to sit on His right and left hands, they no doubt would have squabbled over who would get the more coveted right hand side.

In a radio sermon entitled Proud Hearts and Dirty Feet the pastor of the Midland Baptist Church, whose name I've forgotten, vividly portrayed the events of John 13:14-16. It was usually the job of the lowliest slave to wash the feet of all who entered the house. The disciples were willing to recline on couches and eat with the Master, with their dirty feet sticking up in the air, rather than to humble themselves enough to wash even the Lord's feet. Jesus, by example, rebuked this attitude. He took a towel and water, got down on His knees and washed these fellow's dirty feet. He then gave the admonition that if He being Lord was willing to do that for us, we should be willing to do likewise for one another.13

The apostle Paul demonstrates servanthood as well as any other writer of the bible. In Titus 1:1 he called himself the bondservant of Christ. By using this terminology he puts himself on a par with the Roman galley slave who was literally chained to his rowing station. Every waking moment was dedicated to one task and one task only; the ship must go forward. There were no personal rights to be concerned with, because the right of the state was preeminent. Comforts were not to be considered, for they were unknown. The man in this condition lived and died in a state of total and absolute servanthood. Yet Paul counted it all joy to suffer for Christ. Being shipwrecked didn't matter, nor did being beaten. Past attainments were forgotten and considered as nothing, in the hope of gaining a greater knowledge of Christ. He told the Corinthians that he would very gladly spend and be spent, because of the love that he had for them. He wept for these people, and served them even in weakness, recognizing that his strength came from Christ and Christ alone. He realized that if he were but a willing vessel, God's strength would be shown. He did not glory in his educational achievements, but used them to present the crucified Christ to the whole world. Paul had given up a position of earthly authority, but he eagerly anticipated the crown of life that awaited him in heaven.

There are examples of servanthood in the Reformation Period that we would do well to consider. One has only to look at the index of Foxe's Book of Martyrs to see an impressive list of people, who like Christ, became obedient unto death. The early Christians gladly went to the flames or the arena, desiring only to please their Savior. The blood of these people, who subjugated their own desires to those of Christ, made it possible that I could hear the gospel. Rather than live a noncommitted life and escape death, these people gladly proclaimed Jesus as Lord. They would not tolerate Caesar as Lord, because they were convinced that this position was held by Jesus alone. They firmly believed the words of Jesus that, If you deny Me before men, I will deny you before the angels of heaven. The reformers such as John Wycliffe who gave up positions of power and influence and opposed corruption in church and state speak loudly from their respective martyr's graves.

David Wilkerson serves as a more recent example of biblical servanthood. He answered the call of God and gave up a comfortable church and parsonage to go unheralded to the slums of New York City. God rewarded his courage and gave many souls as a reward. In this trying time, the foundation for Teen Challenge was laid.

When the woman of Sychar was returning to Jesus with a horde of sinful men, Jesus gave us an injunction to share in His Servant's heart. Although the text of John four refers to an unripened wheat field, I believe that Jesus was looking directly at the men coming out of the city when He told us to lift up our eyes and behold the harvest.

Jesus promised us that we would not be immune from persecution or suffering. The servant cannot be above his master. We will enter the kingdom of God through much tribulation. There is a glorious reward promised to those who are patient in doing the Lord's bidding, and also a promise of great rebuke and suffering to those who are taken up in their own affairs. The servant who thought that his lord had delayed his return and began to abuse his fellow servants received very bitter punishment. It is not just the big things that carry a promise of reward. Jesus said in Matthew twenty-five that if we gave only a cup of water in His Name we would not lose our reward.

The words of our Lord still ring clear to, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel." Rather than claim all our rights of sonship and inheritance now, can we not lay aside our claims until we am exalted by Christ? Can we not suffer with Him a little now, that we might be glorified with Him later? Yes, we are joint-heirs with Christ, but why should we settle for immediate gratification in this life? We surely sell ourselves very short if we do so. Scripture declares that eye has not seen nor ear heard, what God has prepared for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. God is not necessarily looking for talented or successful people, but He always has a need for faithful people. God will more likely use the person who shares His heart and vision than the one who shows little concern. If we feel weak and inadequate, that is a good start. We have only to present ourselves as a vessel for God to use. He will supply the necessary talent and strength and accomplish His purpose.

The purpose of About-Him.Com is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ whom we preach as the Almighty God manifest in the flesh.It is our desire that everything presented on these pages increases your faith in our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Last modified: 02-01-2017
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