Nov 1st, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 3 episode 2 of The Berean Manifesto; 10 minutes or so a week of faith, hope, and love for the modern Christian. I’m Pastor Bill of The Ekklesian House and in this installment we are going to take a look at servanthood.
There’s been loads of talk about leadership over the years, but leader is not something that Jesus ever instructed us to be. The closest He ever got to endorsing Christians as leaders was when He instructed us to make disciples of all nations. But honestly that’s more of a servant thing than it is a leader thing. More than anything, Christ taught us to be servants.
In Matthew 19:28-29 CSB Jesus is talking to His disciples and says, “Truly I tell you, in the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields because of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life.”
This passage doesn’t directly deal with servanthood, but it sets us up with reference for understanding the event we’re about to talk about. It’s recorded in Matthew 20 and Mark 10 that after the passage we just read Jesus took the disciples aside from the rest of His followers and told them about His needing to go up to Jerusalem to be turned over to the authorities, tortured, and killed. This is when Salome, the mother of James and John, approaches Jesus with her sons. James or perhaps John addresses Jesus, “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.” Jesus asks them what it is that they want. Salome responds to Jesus that she wants him to promise that her sons will be awarded the highest places of honor in His Kingdom with one of them seated at His right hand and the other at His left hand.
Jesus tells them that they don’t have any idea what they’re asking and turning to James and John asks them if they are able to drink the cup that He’s about to drink from and be baptized into what He is about to be baptized into. “Sure.” They replied asking Him, “Why not?” Jesus says, “You know what? You will drink of my cup. But places of honor aren’t my business, they’re arranged by my father.”
We’ll get back to that in a moment, but first let’s look at Matthew 23:2-12 CSB, “ Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples:  "The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses.  Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don't do what they do, because they don't practice what they teach.  They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people's shoulders, but they themselves aren't willing to lift a finger to move them.  They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.  They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues,  greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called 'Rabbi' by people.  "But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers and sisters.  Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven.  You are not to be called instructors either, because you have one Instructor, the Messiah.  The greatest among you will be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Let’s read one more passage before we sum up. Luke 14:7-11 CSB, “ He told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they would choose the best places for themselves:  ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, don't recline at the best place, because a more distinguished person than you may have been invited by your host.  The one who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give your place to this man,' and then in humiliation, you will proceed to take the lowest place.  "But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up higher.' You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
Returning to Matthew 20 and Mark 10, after Jesus responds to James and John, the ten other disciples get angry at James and John for asking Jesus for the places of honor at a His left and right hands, and Jesus steps up to calm them down saying, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”
Christianity isn’t about leading or being followed; it isn’t about honor or recognition. Christianity is about loving and serving, both the Lord and others. And while we may not sit on one of the twelve thrones reserved for the disciples, the Lord is consistent. If greatness in eternity for the disciples is based on serving and doing so without thought for reward. Then that’s exactly how we should model our lives in the here in now while we can.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”