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For the third time, Jesus announced his upcoming crucifixion in Jerusalem (Matthew 20.17-19). And for the third time, his close followers failed to appreciate what he was telling them (Matthew 20.20-24).
This led Jesus to speak to them about a life of service. He said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20.25-28).
Servants Not Rulers
The phrases “lord it over” and “tyrants over” are very descriptive. They picture people who use their authority and power to serve themselves instead of other people.
On the other hand, servants exist to serve. The very nature of servants is service. If they didn’t serve, then there would be no need for them.
Jesus said that as the “Son of Man,” he came not to be served but to serve. Let’s remind ourselves of the image of the Son of Man in the book of Daniel.
“I saw one like a Son of Man
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7.13-14)
As the Son of Man that is pictured in Daniel, Jesus had far more right to claim the service of his subjects than any ruler or tyrant ever had. Yet, he chose to be a servant.
This is the model of service for all of us. It is an attitude of heart that we should strive to attain.
Leadership by Example
I was at a large gathering at Arrowhead Stadium a few years ago. A pastor of one of the five largest churches in the metro area was there. What was he doing? He was helping to set up folding chairs. Because of his status in the city, he could have stood around and talked with friend while someone else worked with the chairs, but he didn’t. He embodied the message of service that Jesus lived out.
The Importance of Service
Why is it so important to serve others? The Toledo Ohio AA group writes: “If nobody was doing any service work, the Alcoholics Anonymous program would simply cease to exist. Without the service work of those who came before us, none of us would be here now!”
Not only is that true of AA, it is true of the church. Most people are not aware that the concrete in the church auditorium at Maywood Baptist Church collapsed into the gym when it was first poured. Maywood members rallied with fire hoses and wheel barrows to remove all of the concrete. From that moment to the present, we stand on the service of those who have gone before us in more ways than we can imagine.
Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6.38).
This verse is often used with regard to money, but I think it is better used in the context of being a servant. Servants give their time and energy to make the people around them better. They add something to life, rather than take it away for themselves.
As servants give, God does something to their inside condition. He fills them up beyond measure. No question, the happiest and most joyful people I know are those who have the attitude of a servant.
Western Independence Needs Servants
Western Independence needs servants. They don’t need any more rulers and tyrants. There are plenty of them to go around. However, they need servants. What kind of servants are needed?
— Servants who reach out and include people are needed. When was the last time you scrolled through the address book on your phone? A way to serve someone is to look at your address book and see if God puts someone on your heart out of that group. Then, give them a call.
— Servants who reach out the the still suffering addict are needed. Who do you know that needs a text or a Facebook message, letting them know that they are not forgotten?
— Servants who are great examples of sponsorship in AA or NA are needed. The current largest group of people at Maywood are in recovery. Sponsors who are working the program of AA or NA are so needed. That is a way you can serve.
— People who are staying at home during this corona virus pandemic are in need of servants. I thank God for Maywood people who are already shopping and serving many of these people. However, if God places this area of service on your heart, give Coach Jake a call. He will be able to give your service direction.
— Praying servants are needed. Do you know that Maywood has a prayer team that prays during the worship service? You can be a part of that ministry. Chuck Donaldson leads it. If you contact me, I can put you in touch with Chuck.
Tyrants Need Not Apply
Jesus made it clear. He was a servant and lived a life of service. Western Independence does not need religious tyrants or rulers. It is desperate for people who will give whatever the Holy Spirit directs them to do in service.
Dear Jesus, thank you for how you displayed your servant’s heart. Please raise up more servants for the sake of those who need your ministry through us. Please help us to be like you in this area.