Showing posts with the label Servant

Servant of the Kingdom

After predicting his death, two of Christ’s disciples began jockeying for positions of high status in his coming kingdom. Thinking according to the ways of this world and its concepts of political power, they did not yet comprehend what kind of Messiah Jesus was, and therefore, what it meant to be his disciple. But he would soon demonstrate graphically just how anyone achieves “greatness” in the kingdom of God.

Having the Mind of Christ

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul points to the obedience of Jesus as the model for proper conduct by his disciples. His willing submission to death on the Roman cross sets the pattern for his followers. And his subsequent elevation to reign over all things is the result of that “ obedience to death ,” for exaltation did not precede death, but followed it.

Following Jesus

Jesus admonished his disciples that if anyone wished to come after him, “ let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me .” This was more than metaphorical or hyperbolic language. It was said at the very time he was on his final journey to Jerusalem where he would demonstrate to the world just what it meant to “ deny oneself and take up the cross .”

Servant and King

At his baptism, the voice from heaven identifies Jesus as the Son of God and the Servant of Yahweh  – Matthew 3:17.  The theme of fulfillment is key to Matthew’s gospel. In Jesus, the promises of God find their fulfillment and correct understanding. He is the Son of God sent to redeem Israel. Peter, for example, confirms that Jesus is the “ Messiah ,” but he fails to understand that he fulfills that role as the suffering “ Servant of Yahweh ,” the one destined to die for the sins of his people.

Son of David

The gospel of  Matthew  calls Jesus the “ son of David ,” and in his life story, demonstrates what it means to be the king of Israel and the “ Son of God .” Traditionally, this last designation is linked with the royal line; but in Matthew’s account, the old understanding of what it means to be the Messiah is radically altered.

On the Way

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus explains to his disciples just what it means to be the Messiah of Israel  - Mark 8:27-38.  Jesus queried his disciples: Who do men say that I am? At least nine times,  Mark  declares that Jesus is “ on the way .” His march to Jerusalem echoes the words in  Isaiah  applied at the outset of Mark’s account to John the Baptist- “ I send my messenger before your face  WHO SHALL PREPARE YOUR WAY .”

Suffering Servant

Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the role of the Suffering Servant of  Isaiah . But unlike Adam, the “ Servant of Yahweh ” did not attempt to grasp the “ likeness of God .” Instead,  he humbled himself  and submitted to a shameful death on the cross. For this reason, God highly exalted him and made him “ Lord ” over all things. Exaltation did not precede his death - it followed it.

Way of the Cross

To follow Jesus wherever he goes necessitates a lifetime of self-denial and sacrificial service for others .  When Jesus dispatched his disciples to announce the “ good news ” to the “ lost sheep of Israel ,” he warned them to expect to find themselves as “ sheep among wolves .” Hostile men would haul them before “ councils and whip them in their synagogues ,” and his followers would be hated “ by all men for my sake .”

Greatness in His Kingdom

His disciples are summoned to lives of self-sacrificial service to others, just as Jesus gave his life as the ransom price for many .  Having just predicted his trial and execution, Jesus observes the disciples jockeying for position in the coming kingdom. He has taught them that citizenship in his kingdom means a  life of self-sacrificial service to others . But as he is approaching Jerusalem, even his closest followers have a very different concept of how to “rule” in his realm.

Sovereign Over All

The New Testament applies messianic promises in the Psalms to the present reign of Jesus who possesses all authority . The Nazarene has reigned as sole sovereign over the earth since his death, resurrection, and ascension. Already he sits on the messianic throne of David. Because of his obedient death, God resurrected and installed him as the ruler over all things, including the nations of the earth.