FoundationsForGrowing

The Gospel of John: Part VII

by Joanna Pierce on December 22, 2016

Our journey through the Gospel of John continues this week as John examines the servant heart of Jesus. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is shown in many different lights, but no one captures the true servant-like essence of Jesus the way John did. John shows how we too need to be a servant like Jesus.

The Measure of Greatness

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded (John 13:4–5, KJV).

Right before this snapshot of Jesus, Luke depicts the strife between the disciples arguing about who should be the greatest among them (Luke 22:24–26). The world defines greatness through power and prestige, but Jesus teaches greatness is measured not in terms of status but of service. God determines our greatness by how many people we serve, not how many people serve us. God asked us to do something we have every ability to do—to be a servant.

Why Can Anyone Be a Servant?

Anyone Can Make Themselves Available

Real servants will always make themselves available to serve. Jesus got up from the supper table and put on a servant’s towel (John 13:4). He was preparing Himself to serve and put Himself in a place to serve. If we want to effectively serve, we need to do the same. We must put ourselves in opportunities to serve. True servants won’t fill up their schedules with trivial activities to limit their ability for God (II Timothy 2:4–5).To be a servant, our top priority must be God’s Kingdom.

Anyone Can Pay Attention to Needs

Real servants don’t look to take care of just themselves but the needs of others (Philippians 2:4). Those who were a part of the early church sold their possessions to make sure those in the church had their needs met (Acts 2:45). The church should be first before anything else—family and marriage are not eternal institutions, but the church is. Every opportunity we have, we need to do good to all men, especially those in the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).

Anyone Can Do Things with Equal Dedication

The size or portion of what we do in God’s Kingdom is irrelevant. God doesn’t exempt us from what we feel are “mundane” activities—the small things are a crucial part of our character development. When we’re a real servant, there’s nothing that’s beneath us; we’ll continue to add to our service and not graduate from anything. We must remember when we serve, it’s for God and His King and not for anyone else (Colossians 3:23).

Three Mindsets of a Servant

Servants Think More About Others than Themselves

Servants forget about themselves and make sacrifice for others—especially for Jesus. Jesus made Himself a servant because He loved others and we need to do the same (Philippians 2:5–8). By nature, humans are selfish and seek to please ourselves. But, we must choose between meeting our own needs and the needs of other people. If anyone treats us like a servant, we must go the extra mile to serve (Matthew 5:41). If we are offended when others treat us like a servant, then we aren’t one.

Servants Think About Their Work for the Kingdom, Not About What Others are Doing

Servants are simply too busy working for the Lord to compare, criticize, or compete with others. Competition in any amount between God’s servants is ridiculous because 1) we’re all on the same team, 2) our goal is to make God look good and not ourselves, and 3) we’ve all been given unique gifts and different assignments! We are to present ourselves a sacrifice unto God (Romans 12:1); if Jesus isn’t our focus, we’ll see serving as an obligation and not as an opportunity. And, we’ll get too caught up in what others are doing instead of focusing on what God wants us to do (Romans 14:4).

Servants Base Their Identity in Jesus Christ

Servants don’t have to prove their worth to anyone else except Jesus Christ. Jesus took upon the role of a servant because He knew who He was and knew it wouldn’t threaten His self-image (II Corinthians 8:4). His identity was in who He really was. Only secure people in their relationship with God can serve actively and effectively in the Kingdom of God. The closer we get to Jesus, the more we’ll serve others and care less about what they think and only seek validation from God.

The disciples couldn’t hardly conceive washing each other’s feet let alone Jesus washing their feet. But, Jesus washed their feet as an example for them to enter a life of servanthood (John 13:12–15). The identifying characteristic of being a servant is to love one another. Ultimately, our end goal is to sit around the throne of God as His servant and serve Him for all eternity (Revelation 22:1–3).

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on December 21, 2016