On the Sunday evening of July 19 we considered the question, "Did Jesus Have A Job?" First, we focused on a section of the book of Isaiah called the "servant hymns." It is from these chapters that the promised Christ received the title of "the servant." Suppose that you were talking to a devout Israelite in the late period of the Old Testament. If in your conversation with him, you talked about "the servant," he would think of the promised Christ, the anointed one of God.

Next we noted the strong connection between the prophesies that the Christ would be a servant and the fact that Jesus was a servant. By Jesus own declaration, he came to this world to serve, not to be served.

On earth, Jesus' job was to serve. Jesus' mission was to die. Jesus' purpose was to make the forgiveness of sins available to everyone.

The fact that Jesus' job was to serve should cause every Christian to ask a second question: "Did Jesus give me a job?" We are not asking did Jesus give elders a job, or deacons a job, or preachers a job, or teachers a job, or Christian men a job, or Christian woman a job. Did Jesus give every person who accepts him as the Christ a job? Did Jesus give every person who becomes a Christian a job? Yes. We belong to "the servant" to serve. That is the job of every Christian.

  1. Did Jesus leave heaven, live in poverty and hardship on earth, and sacrifice his physical life on the cross to create a self-centered life of ease for us?
    1. Jesus is our Savior.
      1. He saves us from our sins by forgiving us.
      2. He destroys our sins so that each of us can be a son or a daughter of God.
    2. Jesus, as God's child, made it possible for each one of us to be God's child.
      1. Jesus was God's son.
      2. He did made it possible for us to be sons and daughters of God.
      3. He did that so that we as sons and daughters could be what he as Son was.
      4. He did not do that so that we could become something that he was not.
      5. If he was a servant, we must be servants.

  2. Jesus personally selected twelve disciples to follow him daily during his earthly ministry. These twelve men found it extremely difficult to understand that they were to be servants.
    1. These twelve men had an incorrect concept and a mistaken conviction, and Jesus could not get those thoughts out of their minds.
      1. Their incorrect concept and mistaken conviction followed this reasoning:
        1. Jesus was God's son, the promised Christ.
        2. He proved that he was God's son by healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the hungry, and controlling nature.
        3. He came to restore the kingdom just as God promised that Christ would do.
        4. So Jesus would become the literal king of Israel.
        5. When that happened, Israel would become a prominent Nation.
        6. Then these twelve men would serve with Jesus in his administration in this restored kingdom.
      2. This was the burning question among the twelve of them: which one of them would be the most important person in Jesus' administration when he became king.
        1. They were thinking of prestige, of position, of power, of importance.
        2. All of them would be important in the restored kingdom, but which one of them would be the most important?
        3. Throughout his entire ministry, Jesus could not change their thinking.
        4. However, Jesus did make something very clear, and it is as certain for us as it was for the twelve.
        5. Their purpose as disciples was to serve; our purpose as disciples is to serve.
    2. I want you to examine Jesus' efforts to get the twelve to understand this truth.
      1. Matthew 10:24,25 A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign the members of his household! (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
        1. Jesus used the obvious for the purpose of illustration.
        2. A student is not more significant than his teacher; a slave is not more significant than his owner.
        3. The ultimate accomplishment is for the student to equal to his teacher or the slave to be equal to his owner.
        4. Jesus was saying to the twelve, "Look carefully at the way my enemies treat me. They will treat you no differently. Do not expect things to be hard for me and easy for you."
      2. Look at Matthew 20:20-28.
        1. James and John, two of the twelve, had their mother go to Jesus personally and request that they be allowed to sit to the right and left of Jesus' throne when he became king.
        2. She obviously was expecting Jesus to be on the throne of Israel.
        3. Their request made the other ten disciples indignant because they each wanted one of those special seats of importance.
        4. Jesus explained: "My kingdom will not be like other kingdoms."
        5. "In my kingdom people will not seek to possess a position or power or authority--in my kingdom that is unimportant."
        6. "If you want prominence in my kingdom, you will serve everyone else."
        7. "The number one position in my kingdom will go to the person who does the work of a slave."
        8. "I did not come to be served, I came to serve."
        9. The point is clear: if Jesus did not come to be served, Jesus' disciples do not exist to be served.
        10. We Christians do not exist to be served; we exist to serve.
      3. Look at Matthew 23:1-12.
        1. The Pharisees, prominent religious leaders in Israel, loved high positions.
        2. They were on ego trips that filled them with a sense of self-importance.
        3. They demanded that others be responsible, but they did not have to be responsible.
        4. They loved to sit in places of honor and be addressed with titles of respect.
        5. Jesus said of those who would follow him, "The greatest among you shall be your servant. The proud will be humbled, and the humble will be exalted."
      4. Look at Mark 9:33-37.
        1. As they were walking along a road, the twelve were arguing among themselves about which one of them was the most important.
        2. When they arrived at their destination, Jesus asked them what had they discussed, and they refused to tell him.
        3. But he knew what they talked about.
        4. So he said, "The most important person will be last of all; he will serve everyone."
        5. He emphasized his point by taking a child and saying, "If you receive a child in my name you receive me."
        6. Working with children was not the business or the concern of important people. Jesus defined importance differently.
      5. Look at Luke 22:24-30.
        1. The twelve were arguing about which one was the most important.
        2. Jesus said, "You are not to function like other rulers function."
        3. Ordinarily, the youngest adult had no status, but in Jesus' kingdom the most important person would be like a no status person--just like a young adult.
        4. The leader would be as the servant; servant and leader were not words that belonged together.
        5. Jesus asked, "Who is more important, the person who is served the meal, or the person who serves the meal? Remember, I work among you as a servant."
    3. To me, the most powerful and emphatic statement Jesus made about the true nature of those who belong to him was made in John 13:1-17.
      1. It was the end of a magnificent, power filled, triumphant week.
        1. Jesus spent every day in Jerusalem walking openly among his enemies who wanted to kill him.
          1. Jesus had defeated and humiliated them in every discussion.
          2. They could not stop him, and the people loved him.
        2. Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem as king.
          1. His enemies saw this as a definite political statement.
          2. The disciples saw it as a giant step toward the throne of the nation.
        3. So guess what they were thinking about? "Which one of us is the most important?"
      2. When they arrived for what would be their last meal with Jesus, none of them considered washing the others' feet.
        1. That was a lowly, dirty, humiliating job--something commonly delegated to the least important servant.
        2. Jesus got up, took off his robe, got a towel and basin of water, and without a word began to wash each of their feet.
      3. He finished, put his robe back on, sat down, and said this:
        1. "Do you know what I have done?"
        2. "You rightfully call me Teacher and Lord--that is who I am."
        3. "If I can serve you in this lowly manner, you must serve each other in lowly ways."
        4. "I specifically did this to be an example, to teach you a necessary lesson."
        5. "If you understand this, you are blessed if you do it."
      4. Please note:
        1. Jesus did not say, "You are blessed if you understand this."
        2. Jesus said, "You are blessed if you understand and do it."
      5. The emphasis is not confined to the task of washing feet; the emphasis is on providing lowly service because you belong to Jesus.

Some one says, "Oh, I get the point. We are to be servants. That means that as Christians we should set aside some hours to work for the church every month."

I would never knowingly do anything to discourage anyone from being involved in one of the ministries of the congregation. In fact, I would do anything possible to encourage each one of you to be involved in one or more ministries of this congregation.

But setting aside some hours to work for the church is not Jesus' point. That is not the point he was making. That is not the point that he intended for the disciples to gain from his washing their feet.

If you belong to Jesus Christ, you are a servant just like he was a servant. Being a servant is not merely what you do. It is not merely what you do for the church. It is not how you use some time that you schedule to be involved in a ministry.

Being a servant is what you are. All the time. Seven days a week. At home. On the job. In the community. As a spouse. As a parent. As a neighbor. As an employer. As an employee. As a citizen.

Christians are servants. Their Lord and Savior was a servant and is a servant. Christians are servants because they belong to the Chief Servant of all servants--they belong to Jesus.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 9 August 1998
See related sermon: "Did Jesus Have A Job?"

This sermon is also available in French.

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