The King Who Serves His People
The King Who Serves His People
How do you relate to a King who is over everything, who has everything, and who holds everything together? Imitate blind and broke Bartimaeus, that’s how: with empty hands, and looking to the King for mercy (Mark 10:46-52).
It is true, of course, that Jesus calls us to follow His example. Many passages make this clear, including Mark 10:43-45. After calling upon us to be humble servants of other people, Jesus offers Himself as the ultimate example: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45 ESV). Following Jesus includes imitating His example. Since He served others, so should we. But Jesus is not mere example, and we are not to be mere imitators.
Before you can ever be a generous, Christ-like servant to other people, you must first be an ongoing recipient of Christ’s generous ministry to you. Jesus didn’t come to be served by you, but to serve you, “and to give his life as a ransom for [you]” (Mark 10:45 ESV). You, dear Christian, were one of the captives who needed to be ransomed. You needed to be rescued out of slavery. And the Savior purchased you, not with perishable currency but with His own imperishable and precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). It is this experience of Jesus loving you and serving you and giving Himself for you that becomes the living and empowering dynamic of your service to other people.
Thus the fundamental call to serve others is not: serve others because Jesus served others. To put it that way would be profoundly, profoundly, profoundly inadequate. What Mark 10:45 and many other passages press upon us is this: we serve others because Jesus has served and continues to serve us. Moreover, He has served us in an absolutely stunning and unique way: He paid the price of our redemption.
“As I Have Loved You”: The Love that Wrecks Us
I want you to notice how the New Testament directs us to serve others as the fruit of the foundational reality that Jesus has served and continues to serve us.
- Regarding love: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV, italics added)
- Regarding hospitality: “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7 ESV, italics added)
- Regarding forgiveness: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV, italics added)
- Regarding sacrifice: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3:16 ESV, italics added)
After the Lord Jesus Christ washed the feet of the disciples, He said to them: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15 ESV, italics added)
When you experience the reality that the High King descended from heaven to love you and welcome you and forgive you; when you grasp that the Lord of glory clothed Himself with servanthood in order to serve you in ten thousand ways, and chiefly by dying in your place; when it sinks into your heart that the Holy One has stooped low to wash your feet, cleanse your heart, renew your soul – these things do not leave you feeling proud. Just the opposite: when you truly understand that God’s Son loved you and gave himself for you (Galatians 2:20), it wrecks you. It wrecks your pride, your selfishness, your ego. It sobers you up, humbles your heart, and introduces you to the world as it is intended to be: the glory of the triune God shining forth in the brightness and splendor of incomparable love, a fountain of inexhaustible grace and kindness overflowing from Calvary as a healing stream to peoples and nations, and you get to be part of it! You get to receive the Father’s exuberant grace, made visible through the Lamb that was slain.
And so, like a little child (Mark 10:13-16) or blind beggar (Mark 10:46-52) or desperate mother (Mark 7:24-30) or desperate father (Mark 9:14-29), you come to Him. You eat and drink the Lord’s grace (John 6:35); you “taste and see that [he] is good” (Psalm 34:8)! And you receive the generous gift that the Father delights to give every little lamb who belongs to His Son: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32 ESV) The Father’s largehearted gift to you takes away both fear and greed. Look: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. (Luke 12:32-33 ESV, italics added) Our generosity to others is the fruit of the Father’s generosity to us.
Jesus Continues to Serve His People
The Lord Jesus Christ, who served us by laying down His life for us, continues to serve us. He is the Vine, we are the dependent branches, and He nourishes us (John 15:1-11). His words supply and sustain our prayers, our obedience, our love, and our joy (John 15:7-17). In our weaknesses and adversities, the power and grace of Jesus is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). The risen Christ, seated at the Father’s right hand, is the source of help and mercy for His battle-weary followers (Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:14-16).
Further, by His death Jesus purchased for us all of the blessings of the New Covenant (1 Corinthians 11:25), the foremost of which is the precious gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, Joel 2:28-29). When Jesus’ disciples bear good fruit, behind that good fruit is the ministry of the Holy Spirit: He enlivens our fellowship with the Father and Son (Ephesians 3:14-19), He causes us to walk in obedience (Ezekiel 36:27), He produces the fruit of godly character (Galatians 5:22-23), He unites us together as the loving body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), and He energizes all of our ministries (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The only way to be a faithful servant in God’s household is to “[serve] by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11 ESV). Which means that whenever we are faithfully serving, we are first of all receiving from the Lord. The Lord, through His Spirit, is supplying us with strength and love and understanding and ability. In all these things, the Lord faithfully serves us so that we can have the privilege and joy of effectively serving others. When this happens, the Lord is making us participants in and extenders of His service to others – we are participants in what He is doing, and He is extending what He is doing through us to others.
The Lord’s gladhearted serving will never come to an end. He will be our light and glory and salvation forever. In particular, a future and glorious day is coming when the Lord will throw a great feast for all of the people who were ransomed and transformed and upheld by His blood-bought grace. On that day, the Lord will continue to serve us:
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them…. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-37, 40 ESV)
"I Will Carry You"
O Church – dear brothers and sisters in Christ – get a firm hold on this truth. Or better, let this truth get a firm hold on you: the Lord Jesus Christ is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25 ESV). Therefore, do not attempt to serve Him in this manner. Instead be glad to have a sovereign Lord who delights to graciously serve you and sustain your “life and breath and everything” on the path of fellowship with Him.
Little lamb, always let your gentle Shepherd carry you (Isaiah 40:11, 28-31)! The Old Testament tells us that lifeless idols must be carried around by their subjects. In other words, idolaters carry their pathetic and manufactured gods (Isaiah 46:1-2, 6-7) By contrast, true worshipers are carried by Jehovah-Jireh, the living God, our great Provider (Genesis 22:14). This almighty God, who cannot and will not be carried around by anyone else, declares to His people:
“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” (Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV)
Live entirely on the basis of His promise and resolve to carry you. Lean all of your weight on Him. Wait patiently for His supply. And as you come to know Him more deeply in the fullness of His love for you, go forth in His name and serve other people for His sake.
NOTE: Header Image/Featured Image Photo by John Fowler on Unsplash