How Jesus Serves Us and How We Serve Others
In the previous article we looked at our Lord’s words in Mark 10:45, to the effect that he, the Son of Man, did not come to be served by us but to serve us by giving his life as a ransom for our souls. We looked at what it means to say that Jesus serves us rather than our serving him. But in what way does Jesus “serve” us? What is the preeminent expression of his serving us? According to Mark 10:45 it is in giving his life as a ransom in our place so that we might be set free! Continue reading . . .
In the previous article we looked at our Lord’s words in Mark 10:45, to the effect that he, the Son of Man, did not come to be served by us but to serve us by giving his life as a ransom for our souls. We looked at what it means to say that Jesus serves us rather than our serving him. But in what way does Jesus “serve” us? What is the preeminent expression of his serving us? According to Mark 10:45 it is in giving his life as a ransom in our place so that we might be set free!
Perhaps the best way to understand this is by looking at what the apostle Paul says in Galatians 3. There he says that we are “under a curse” (Gal. 3:10) but that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).
Let me illustrate what Paul had in mind by telling you about the “sword of Damocles” as found in Cicero. Damocles was a courtier, a slave in the service of a Greek ruler named Dionysius. Damocles often complained that the life of a ruler, such as Dionysius, was easy and prosperous. To teach him a lesson, Dionysius had Damocles sit upon his throne. He then pointed above his head where there was a razor sharp sword hanging by a thin thread.
The sword was symbolic of the dire burden and massive responsibilities that fall on one who rules as well as the severe judgment awaiting him should he fail. The point is this: the curse of the law, the divine wrath of eternal judgment, hung over our heads like the “sword of Damocles.” But Jesus interposed himself between us and it and when it fell it pierced his heart and crushed his body and he endured the judgment that was rightfully ours.
Therefore, Jesus did not serve us by giving us an example of how to die well. Jesus was not merely throwing us a bit of assistance, as one who throws a rope to a drowning swimmer. He did not die as a martyr to inspire us to love one another. He died as our substitute to endure and satisfy the wrath of God that we deserved and in doing so paid our ransom and set us free from the guilty and penalty of sin!
How might we in turn learn to serve one another in the spirit of how Jesus served us? How does one develop or cultivate a spirit of service? How does one become a slave of others? We are so selfish, so absorbed with our own welfare and comfort and reputation that we can barely see beyond the end of our own noses, much less see people in need and lovingly and joyfully give our time and very selves to them. So how do we approach serving others? Several things have to change in our mindset and our affections. Here are a few suggestions:
(1) You must train yourself so that the last thing that comes to mind as you consider serving another is personal entitlement. What you think you are entitled to never controls or directs your choices. What you think you deserve or how you believe people ought to treat you simply cannot be of any consideration whatsoever.
(2) Personal convenience must never factor into your decision about whether or not to serve or help or encourage others. The fact that giving your time and energy to bless another may cost you money or your leisure time or your day off or mean that you don’t get to watch your favorite TV show simply doesn’t matter. You must be wholly and unconditionally committed to the welfare and spiritual growth of others, regardless of how much discomfort or pain it may cause you in the pursuit of it.
(3) You have to look on those you serve not to see what they’ve done or failed to do for you but only in terms of what Christ has done for them and what he wants to continue to do in them.
“OK, Sam, I hear you. But I’m still so self-centered and concerned with preserving my schedule and holding on to my stuff and watching out for number one. How do I get beyond that? How do I overcome the instinctive and powerful tendency to think only of me?”
The answer to this question isn’t found in my providing you with a list of tasks that you can do here in your local church. My guess is that you already know what they are. No, the problem isn’t that you lack a list of way concrete ways to serve others. The problem is that you and I are consumed with ourselves! So how do we begin to experience a breakthrough and get beyond our “selves” and learn to enjoy serving others?
You must have a clear and deep conviction in your heart about what Jesus did in serving you by giving himself as a ransom to set you free from sin and death. In other words, the only thing that will turn your heart away from an obsession with yourself, the only thing that will loosen the grip on your heart of entitlement and a concern for personal convenience, is an ever-growing, ever-deepening, ever-expanding understanding of what Jesus did for you on the cross and why it was necessary that he do it.
You will never overcome the feeling of entitlement or conquer the allure of personal convenience until there has taken root in your heart the clear and unmistakable conviction that the only thing of which you are truly deserving is hell, and that Jesus has died and suffered its penalty in your place so that you might go wholly and joyfully free.
Once that realization begins to seep into your soul and take root in the depths of your heart and you find that you can hardly think of anything else, you will find joy and delight in becoming the servant and slave of others. Then and only then will you find the strength to serve others as Jesus serves you.