Jesus the Servant
Who is Jesus? We are going to spend few weeks dealing with Who Jesus really was. We just got through the season where we celebrated his coming. During those weeks of Advent, we talked about the prophecies from the Old Testament and how Jesus was the fulfillment of those prophecies. Now we are going to talk for a few weeks about who he was once he got here. Today we are going to turn to Philippians 2:5-11 and read together.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Today I want to talk about one of the first words that come up when we talk about who Jesus was; “Servant”. Jesus was the ultimate personification of being a servant while on Earth. In another passage, back to the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesized the God would send His servant to dwell among us. It wasn’t until Jesus began to operate in his ministry that we learned that Jesus wasn’t just God’s servant, but he came to be a servant to all.
Philippians was written by Paul to the church at Philippi. I talked about the book a couple weeks ago so I think we can forego the history lesson, just know that Paul (with the assistance of his disciple Timothy) cared very much for this church and the people there. Thus, when writing this letter, he was very upbeat and positive about their faith and they work for Christ.
To get a real good look at what it is to be a servant we have to look at Jesus, because he was the ultimate servant, humbling himself beyond anyone else ever. This passage in Philippians says that Jesus “emptied himself” and took “the form of a slave.” This paints a pretty impressive picture in terms of the sacrifice he made to even come and walk among us, let alone choose to be crucified in our place.
I saw a thing on the internet on one of the coaching sites I follow that said, “Three things every coach should do in their first three years.” The list was simple,
- Coach 7th Grade B Team
- Mow and Stripe the Practice field
- Coach a position on both sides of the ball
At the time I sent a message to an old coaching friend about all the Freshmen and C-Team games we used to coach together, reliving the fun that we had doing that together. However, it is number 2 on that list that really gets me. Every coach, at every level, should mow and stripe the practice field. I helped stripe the game field one time in my coaching career. We were blessed with some outstanding groundskeepers while I coached and it rarely ever needed to be done. However, one time, during a personnel change to that position, the other coaches and I had to do it. Let me tell all of you, that is hard work! I never had any idea the difficulty it was to keep lines straight and all in the correct place. Marks have to be so many yards from the sidelines, and then it’s the front of the line, not the back or middle. It took about 6 of us several hours to complete the task. Oh, and by the way, it was early September and it was hot. Really hot. Just like the list suggested, I gained a new respect for that job and it humbled me quite a bit.
When I first got here, the first couple days I came into this church I wandered around quite a bit. I wanted to get to know the building. I went in the basement, the balconies, the storage rooms. I found the electrical box. I checked the plumbing. But most importantly to me, I found the vacuum. I believe that if you are a pastor of a church and you don’t know where the vacuum is kept, you aren’t in a good mindset of your position. I’m not here to act like I have it all together because I’m aware of the location of the church vacuum, but I believe that there are many pastors who cannot make that claim today.
It’s not just pastors either. People of industry and business get put into positions of power and authority and lose sight of where it was that they came from. They forget that their office used to be the size of the desk they now use. They speak to thousands of people but forget when they spoke to few. The point of all of this is that it is easy to forget. It’s easy to begin to think of yourself as the most important person in your life and begin to forget that God calls us to be a servant before anything else.
When Jesus first began his ministry, he went to another, John the Baptist, to be baptized in the Jordan to show he was starting his journey with no past baggage. Do you really think that Jesus needed to be baptized? Of course not, he did it to show his humility and servant’s heart. Before he dies, Jesus takes his disciples and washes their feet, a very unpleasant task in a time where people walked everywhere in dry leather sandals. He tells John and James that being great wasn’t important, but rather it was being a servant that was the goal. What this passage in Philippians tells us is that it was because Jesus was a servant that he was exalted in Heaven following the resurrection.
So what are we supposed to do with this? Well, I can tell you that we all lose focus on what is important sometimes. Remembering that you are not the most important person in the room, your family, or the world, can be difficult and it is a trap we can all fall into. We live in a world that tells us that everyone matters and that we are all special in what we do. While that is true, being special doesn’t mean that we are better. Just because you are the smartest, best, most functional person in a current situation, doesn’t mean that your role as a Christian Servant has changed. You must learn to humble yourself and serve all you meet.
Christ wasn’t just a gift to us to celebrate at the holidays. When God became Jesus on earth, he was showing us how to be a servant. He went from creating all that has ever existed, all the stars and cosmos, all the animals and people, to washing his follower’s feet. To suffering and dying a human, mortal death, one that He did not have to suffer, to serve us, his creation. So who is Jesus? Jesus was the embodiment of God, who came to earth, and taught us to humble ourselves and to serve one another. And as Paul wrote in Philippians, because of this act, his name is above all names, his story is above all stories, his truth speaks through time and his salvation comes to us all. That is Jesus the Servant.