Not To Be Served

“…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:28, ESV)

I have a confession. I like to be pampered and served.

I enjoy going out to eat and having the wait staff cater to my desires. It makes me feel valued in a frenetic and self-absorbed world where everyone thinks themselves the most important.

I’ve recently become almost obsessed with servanthood. The scriptures about servant and slaves have been drawn to the forefront of my spiritual attention. In the coming weeks I will be looking more closely at the topic. Indeed, the scripture quoted above is only part of a larger portion about servanthood, but I have let the rest simmer in me for a bit longer.

When Jesus uttered the words of John 20:28, He was well aware of their importance. He was also well aware that they would be misunderstood and ignored. Well, we don’t ignore all of it.

We like to skip past the first part and place all of the emphasis on “give his life as a ransom for many.” That’s the part we like, because in our heads we tend to think of Jesus only in terms of the cross. The God-man purchased our salvation through the cross.

But when we skim over the first part, we are missing out on a revolutionary truth that can march our faith to higher heights and anchor it in our hearts. But to really get it we need to slow down a little.

As I have said before, Jesus is always careful about His words. Whether He is expressing compassion for those in need, preaching a hard-to-hear sermon, or discussing the mundane, His words were all carefully chosen. After all, when your ministry is limited to roughly 3 years, you mustn’t waste words.

In John 20:28, Jesus could have simply said, “I came to serve.” But instead He led with “I came not to be served.” I believe that He wanted to emphasize the lifestyle that we should lead as His followers.

Since returning from a recent mission trip, I have been meditating on Mark 9:35.

“And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’”  (ESV, emphasis mine). I try to use the last three words as a sort of mantra reminding me of how I should be living my life.

The other day, I was called upon to do something at work that is ordinarily handled by my coworker who was on vacation. I admit that as I walked to where I needed to be I caught myself grumbling about being taken away from what I was doing. I got roughly half of the way there when the Holy Spirit whispered in my heart “servant of all.” As if someone had flipped a switch, my attitude changed.

Jesus had every right to be served. He was God in flesh! But that was not why He came. He came to serve.

The world wants us to “go for the gusto!” It tells us that we should seek importance. Jesus already was important, but He didn’t let that stop Him from putting others first. Yes, we are important, but in like manner we are not here to be served—regardless of what the world may tell us—but to serve.

These are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week!

Photo by Valentin B. Kremer on Unsplash

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