Jesus?" part 5
The Servant King
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 2, 2010
does greatness mean to you? When you think about being successful and
achieving greatness, what do you think of? If you’re like most people,
you most likely think about having wealth and fame, significant
accomplishments, lots of power, and probably lots of employees to do
all the “little things” for you. You probably think about the prospect
of never having to do the “dirty jobs” again.
In fact, you
probably think of people at the opposite end of greatness as being
those people who work those minimum wage jobs, never get any
recognition, and have to serve at the beck and call of those people who
are truly great.
And I expect that concept of greatness has been
around for a long time. If you go back to the time of Jesus, you
discover that even then people equated greatness with power and
prestige and position and prosperity. A person’s success could be
measured by the number of servants they had. The greater you were, the
more people you had serving you.
But then along came Jesus, and he redefined greatness.
continuing this morning with our message series entitled, “Who Is
Jesus?” And through the course of this series, we’re trying to uncover
the identity of Jesus. We’re trying to discover everything we can about
the Man, the mission, the message.
And I think we’re making
some good progress. I think we’ve already learned a lot about just who
Jesus is. And today, I want us to look at one of the main reasons Jesus
said He came to begin with. You can see it in His words in Matthew
Matthew 20:28 (NLT)
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and
to give his life as a ransom for many.”
redefined greatness. There has never been anyone greater than Jesus in
all of history. Yet Jesus didn’t equate greatness with status. He
didn’t associate greatness with the number of servants you have. No,
for Him… the greatest person who ever lived… He saw His own purpose as
coming to serve.
And Jesus didn’t just pay lip service to the idea of serving… He
modeled it. He set the standard and became the example.
mean, think about it. How did Jesus spend His time? He went from town
to town, healing people and teaching them and reaching them, meeting
their needs… He genuinely cared about people and did whatever He could
And you see a great example of this servant attitude in action in John
John 13:1-5 (NLT)
the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave
this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during
his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was
time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon
Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him
authority over everything and that he had come from God and would
return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped
a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began
to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around
What a radical thing for Jesus to do… to wash the feet of His
disciples. Let’s try to understand what He was doing…
coming up on summer here, and pretty soon the beaches of PEI will be
filled with people. Imagine that you were to go out to Cavendish one
day and just walk the beach for a few hours… you don’t go swimming, you
just walk on the beach. And you’re wearing your sandals. Can you
imagine what your feet would look like after a few hours? Can you
imagine what they would feel like? They’d be caked with a layer of dirt
and dust, and you’d probably be looking forward to getting them washed,
Well, back in Jesus’ day, the main mode of travel
was walking. People could walk for hours each day, wearing their
sandals, and walking across the sandy, dusty roads. So a custom evolved
that when a guest would enter a home, a servant would be there to wash
the feet of the guest. Today we offer to take a person’s coat and offer
them a drink. Back then, they washed their feet. And really, it was a
pretty menial job. I mean, would you want to apply for that kind of
position? This was the kind of job that only a servant or a slave would
have to lower themselves to perform.
So here we have Jesus and
His disciples entering into a room. We know it was suppertime, so it’s
late in the day, and we know that Jesus had probably walked around
teaching people that entire day. So His feet and the feet of all of the
disciples would have been caked with dirt. But on this occasion… there
were no servants present to wash their feet.
So they all went in
and sat around the table. And after a while of sitting there, Jesus
took it upon Himself to wash His disciples’ feet. And that was a
radical thing for anyone to do, especially someone who was regarded as
a great teacher and a leader. In fact, it was so radical that His
disciples protested. Peter in particular refused at first to let Jesus
wash his feet.
And I think you can understand why. I mean, think
about it. Put yourself in their sandals. It’s the end of the day,
you’ve been working hard, and you know that your feet are dirty and
calloused and smelly. And then the one person you admire most and the
person you want to impress the most wants to wash your feet? Riiight.
Like you’re going to let that happen!
So just so you can really
understand how they were feeling, I want you all to pair up and we’re
going to wash each other’s feet this morning. Okay, not really. But did
you experience that brief moment of terror? Did you think about how
badly you need to trim your toe-nails? Were you afraid we were going to
discover that wart? Did you think about how disgusting your shoes are
and how bad they make your feet smell? And this is still 11:00 in the
morning! It’s only been a few hours since you showered… I hope.
disciples had been walking all day, and their feet really were
disgusting. So of course they didn’t jump at the chance to have Jesus
wash their feet. But Jesus insisted that they allow Him to. And then,
when He was finished, He taught them the significance of what He had
John 13:12-15 (NLT)
After washing their feet, he put on
his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was
doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because
that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your
feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example
to follow. Do as I have done to you.”
Servanthood. Jesus modeled
it and He demanded it of His disciples… then and now. So this morning,
as we talk about why Jesus thought it was so important to serve others,
I want you to realize that these same reasons are why it’s important
for us to serve today. Okay? These are the reasons it’s important for
us to serve within the Church, but also within our interpersonal
relationships. So let’s get going…
Is Serving Important to Jesus?
Servanthood is a pure expression of love.
What motivated Jesus to wash His disciples’ feet? We’re told in the
very first verse of the chapter…
John 13:1 (NIV)
Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full
extent of his love.
It was the love that Jesus had for people in general and for His
disciples specifically that led Him to serve them.
You see, you don’t show love by making people serve you; you show it by
Listen to what Paul wrote to the Christians in the city of Galatia…
Galatians 5:13-14 (NLT)
you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But
don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your
freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed
up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
see the connection between serving and love? First and foremost, love
was the motivation for Jesus serving others, and it needs to be our
motivation, too. In fact, I would say that if you can’t lower yourself
to serve others, then you’re not really a loving person at all. You
certainly don’t have the love of God in you, because the love of God
leads you to acts of loving service.
And this is something you
can’t fake. The love you express must be genuine, or regardless of what
you do it will all be meaningless. I mean, there are lots of reasons
you might serve others: maybe you’re putting on a show, maybe you’ve
been guilted into it, maybe you’re trying to impress someone with just
how humble you are, maybe you’re doing it to put another feather in
your cap or to earn a merit badge… but if your primary motivation isn’t
love, then it’s all meaningless. Paul said…
1 Corinthians 13:3 (NLT)
I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I
could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained
Love is the crucial component. So if you lack that kind
of love, then you need to start praying about it. Ask God to fill you
with His love. And keep praying. Don’t let up until you are filled to
overflowing with the limitless love of God.
Jesus served and we
should serve because it is an expression of love. A second reason that
Jesus served was to obey the commands of God.
Servanthood is in step with God’s will.
Let me try to connect a couple of verses here…
John 6:38 (NLT)
“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me,
not to do my own will.”
Matthew 20:28 (NLT)
“For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve
others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”
if Jesus came serve, and if He came to do the will of God the Father,
then is it reasonable to conclude that God the Father sent Jesus to
serve? I think it is. And then Jesus took that very mission and He
passed it on to us. Jesus told His disciples…
John 13:14, 17 (NLT)
since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to
wash each other’s feet… Now that you know these things, God will bless
you for doing them.”
And no, He wasn’t talking about literally
going from person to person washing their feet. He was using the
washing of feet as an analogy for what it means to serve. And serving
is what Jesus expects of each of us.
Do you know what makes
serving others so difficult? It’s the inconvenience factor. It’s the
fact that in order to serve others you have to set aside your own
preferences. I don’t think Jesus was looking for a new hobby when He
washed His disciples’ feet. I don’t think it was necessarily something
He would have put on His to-do list. But the need presented itself, and
He was able to fill that need. He wasn’t looking to satisfy His own
needs; He was looking to satisfy the needs of others.
of you use Facebook? It’s amazing, isn’t it, how quickly Facebook has
caught on. And the way these things go, who knows if it will even be
around next year this time? You know what’s scary about Facebook? How
people I hardly know find out all about my life. And it’s not because
of what I post; it’s what my wife posts. Did you see this comic a few
COMIC – Blondie, April 5, 2010
Dagwood arrives at work, and his coworkers greet him with statements
“Whoa! There goes the world’s greatest husband.”
“I wish my husband would surprise me by cooking dinner.”
“You’re a sweetheart, Dag!”
“Hey! There’s the husband of the year!”
Dagwood ends the strip by saying, “I can always tell when Blondie’s
posted something about me on Facebook.”
Facebook. I have a friend who likes to post quotes. Sometimes he’s
quoting other people; sometimes he’s quoting himself. And I think he
made a profound observation this week…
“What do we need to do
with our children to begin to cultivate ‘disciples’ rather than
‘consumers’? We've mastered the ‘consumer’ thing.”
~ Karl Ingersoll, Tues at 18:43 · April 27, 2010
a consumer looking for? They’re looking to be served. They’re looking
to be waited on. They’re looking to get as much out as they can while
putting as little in as possible. And I think Karl is right on the
money. I think we’ve created a whole culture of consumerism. I think
it’s in our society, I think it’s in our churches. When you move to a
new city and start looking for a church, we even call it church
shopping. We’ve become consumers in every aspect of our lives. It
affects our view of church, it affects how we interact with each other,
it affects our approach to our job… we’re a society of consumers.
But do you understand how different it is to be a disciple rather than
disciple is more interested in what they can give than what they can
get. They’re more interested in serving than they are in what’s in it
Jesus set a new standard of greatness, and He did it
by serving… Serving as an expression of love and serving in obedience
to the will of His Father.
And the third reason we’re looking at this morning… Jesus served
Serving models true greatness.
We read from Mark 9:35 earlier, and in that verse Jesus said…
Mark 9:35 (NLT)
“Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of
an incredible counter-cultural statement… something that seems
completely foreign to our society… you achieve true greatness by
becoming a servant.
It seems like a logical incongruity. But it
really does happen. The best example from recent years that I can think
of would be Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa devoted her entire life to
loving and serving the very least on the streets of Calcutta. She never
sought any positions or recognition. She was content to just serve the
But she became admired and respected in ways that go
far beyond what any elected office could achieve. And eventually she
was invited to speak before world leaders and they listened! In fact,
they would go to see her instead of having her come to see them! She
descended into greatness.
Now, we all know about Mother Teresa.
We’ve heard about her expressions of love and compassion in service to
her God. She became famous for that. But that’s not the way it always
happens. Many times, those who devote their lives to serving others are
never recognized for it. Often, their good deeds can even go unnoticed
for years. But someday, every good deed… every act of service… will
1 Timothy 5:25 (NLT)
In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious. And the
good deeds done in secret will someday come to light.
even if their good deeds are hidden all through their lives, they still
achieve greatness. Just because you may not be recognized for it now
doesn’t mean that there is no reward. Jesus said…
Matthew 6:4 (NLT)
“Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will
Bible frequently talks about how the good things you do now in secret
will be rewarded in Heaven. And that’s where it really matters. That’s
where true greatness will be recognized and rewarded in ways that go
far beyond what can be experienced now. In that same chapter, Jesus
Matthew 6:19-20 (NLT)
“Don’t store up treasures here on
earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves
break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and
rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”
we’ve looked this morning at a time when Jesus modeled servanthood by
washing the feet of His disciples. And you’ve got to understand, this
was something that was foreign to them, too. They thought greatness was
all about position and power and prestige. They didn’t think
servanthood had anything to do with greatness. In fact, just a little
while earlier the disciples had been arguing about who was the greatest
among them. And so Jesus gave them this object lesson by washing their
feet as they were getting ready for supper. But then right after
supper, they started up again! Listen to what happened…
Luke 22:24-27 (NLT)
they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest
among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men
lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’
But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among
you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a
servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the
one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here!
For I am among you as one who serves.”
Once again He had to
reiterate that greatness was not something to be argued over. In fact,
you can’t even strive for true greatness… you discover it. It’s the
result of servanthood, not the goal of servanthood. Don’t aspire to be
great; aspire to be a servant. And greatness will follow.
apostle Paul recognized this attitude of servanthood in Jesus. And He
points out that if we’re going to follow Jesus, if we’re going to
follow His example, if we’re going to become more like Jesus… then we
need to adopt that same attitude.
Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT)
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling
to. Instead, He gave up his divine privileges; He took the humble
position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in
human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a
criminal’s death on a cross.
You’ll never find a greater servant than Jesus Himself. Though He was
God, He chose to serve. And He expects us to serve, too.
27 years ago (back in 1983) Graham Kendrick wrote a great worship song
talking about Jesus as the Servant King. And he also pleads for all
Christ-followers to become servants like Jesus, too.
The Servant King
by Graham Kendrick
From heaven You came helpless babe,
Entered our world, Your glory veiled;
Not to be served, But to serve,
And give Your life that we might live.
So let us learn how to serve,
And in our lives enthrone Him;
Each other's needs to prefer,
For it is Christ we're serving.
This is our God, the Servant King.
He calls us now to follow Him;
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.
Adapted from “It’s Your Serve part 1 –
Jesus: the Radical Servant” by Greg Hanson, June 12, 2005