The Servant

Bible Book: John  13
Subject: Service; Servant
Series: Portraits of the Saints
Introduction

We come now to another sermon in our series on Portraits of the Saints. Today's message is entitled "The Servant." Turn to John 13:15-17

We note an incident in this passage out of the life of our Lord which can help us to see what it means to be a servant of Christ. There was a man in a church a few years ago who was fond of using a certain phrase. Whatever the preacher spoke about on Sunday would cause this church member to use his favorite phrase. If the preacher spoke on soul-winning, the man would come out of the church on Sunday and say, "Preacher, I aim to start witnessing." If the preacher spoke on giving, the man would say, "Preacher, I aim to start tithing." On and on this went. But, in reality, the man never really changed his behavior. Finally, one Sunday after the preacher had spoken on the virtues of prayer, the church member passed by the pastor and said, "Preacher, I aim to start praying." The preacher could stand it no longer and said, "Sir, why don't you stop aiming, and start shooting!"

We need a renewed vitality in our servanthood for Christ. Billy Sunday used to say that he would fight the devil as long as he had strength, he would hit him as long as he had a fist, he would bite him as long as he had teeth, and if he lost his teeth he would gum the devil till he died. We need more servants of God with that attitude.

Every child of God should do his or her best to be all that God intends, and we cannot possibly do that unless we understand what it means to be a servant of our Lord. The word servant, used by Jesus, means one who is a voluntary slave to another. When Jesus said that the servant is not above his Master, He was indicating that we must serve in the same way that He served. Perhaps that is why many NT people called themselves servants or slaves of Jesus.

In fact, servant was a favorite term of many New Testament saints when describing themselves. Paul opened three of his New Testament letters calling himself a servant. Jude opened his letter identifying himself as a servant. Peter began his second epistle describing himself as a servant. And, in our passage today Jesus indicated that believers are servants.

The word servant, used by Jesus, means one who is a voluntary slave to another. When Jesus said that the servant is not above his Master, He was indicating that we must serve in the same way that He served. Perhaps that is why many New Testament people called themselves servants or slaves of Jesus. This sermon looks carefully at our duty as servants of the Lord.

The idea of being a servant is very, very important to the Lord, was important to the NT Church, and must be taken seriously by us all. So, lets take the word S E R V A N T, and using it as an acrostic, look at our lives in the light of God's Word and discover if we are truly servants of the Most High God.

I. S Saved

Our first letter is the letter S. We will consider this letter to stand for that truth which is most important when thinking about being a servant of God - the word is Saved. We need to remember that no one is saved by serving. We are saved to serve, but we are not saved by serving. Look at Ephesians 2:8-10. Clearly we are saved to serve but no amount of service can make you a Christian. No amount of penance can bring you into a right relationship to God. No amount of duty and good behavior can make you right with God.

John 13:1 clearly reveals that Jesus loved His own and was showing them the full extent of His love. He stated in verses 13 and 14 Jesus reveals that He is their Lord. Only one person in that room did not belong to Jesus and that was Judas. The others were clearly saved. Jesus was pointing out to them that they were saved to serve not to sit in the best seats in the house.

What appears to have happened in the Upper Room is that an ongoing argument between the disciples had continued. The argument was concerning who among them was the greatest. One mother had already asked if her two sons could sit on Jesus' right and left side in the kingdom. So, when the disciples gathered in the Upper Room for the Passover Meal, and for what would be the instituting of the Lord's Supper by the Savior, no one wanted to take on the menial task of washing feet. Jesus got a basin and a towel and began to wash their feet. He was showing them the proper attitude of the believer, the attitude of service.

Are you saved? Have you received Jesus into your life as your Lord? If not, you cannot possibly be His servant. In fact, until you come to Him the Bible clearly indicates that you are a servant of sin.

Romans 6:17-18 points this out without question. When you come to Jesus you enter into salvation in three tenses. The saved are cleansed of sin and born again. Secondly, they are promised a home in heaven. Those two cover the past tense and the future tense. But, what about the here and now? That is the present tense. When you are saved, you are saved to serve!

II. E Eager

The letter E stands for the word Eager. The servant is not to serve reluctantly but wholeheartedly. We read in Ephesians 6:7, "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men." Jesus did not wash the disciples feet because they were worthy of that or because they deserved it, He did it because He was serving the Heavenly Father and was fulfilling the purpose for which He was sent. That is why He was baptized. John the Baptist said that he was not even worthy to unlatch and then re-tie the sandals of Jesus. Tying and untying sandals was the job of a slave. John the Baptist felt he was not even worthy to be a slave of Jesus. Yet, Jesus was down at the Jordan asking John the Baptist to baptize Him. When John the Baptist protested, feeling unworthy of this act, what did Jesus say? He said it had to be done to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus was simply obeying His Heavenly Father.

There is probably someone here today who will not join this church because you don't want to be baptized. Just think what you are saying. You are saying that you are better than Jesus. He was baptized as your example, then called upon all believers to follow Him. You should eagerly follow Him!

When it came to giving, Paul said not to give reluctantly, but to do so eagerly. Paul wrote that we should eagerly desire Spiritual gifts so that we can properly serve our Lord. In the OT there is a passage that says Judah sought the Lord eagerly and He was found by them (2 Chronicles 15:15). Someone here today desires to be closer to the Lord, but your problem is that you do not eagerly seek Him and do not eagerly serve Him. There has to be enthusiasm in your life for the Lord.

Jesus looked at His disciples in the Upper Room and was dismayed that they were so slow to serve each other. Yet, He was eager to serve. Jesus did not have to get down on His knees and wash their feet, but He did so. Oh, that we might be more like our Savior, eager to serve!!!

How about you and I? Are we eager servants of Jesus?

III. R Rejected

In 1935 a brilliant young man in Knoxville, Tennessee, felt God calling him to be a missionary. He was a doctor and wanted to go to the dangerous country of Korea to serve, because he had heard of the deprivations they were suffering. He appealed to the Foreign Mission Board of the SBC but money was scarce during the depression years and they could not send him. His home church sacrificed and gathered the money to send the young doctor to Korea. In 1950 he was killed by Communists. His name was Bill Wallace. He was buried in a faraway land to await the resurrection day. Bill Wallace could have come home when things got difficult. He knew the dangers. He could have made a lot of money as a doctor here in the USA, but he was a servant of Christ. His service was rejected by the world, but then that just made him more like Jesus. He was rejected first!

Jesus came unto His own and His own received Him not! In fact, even in that Upper Room there was a form of rejection. When Jesus came to wash the feet of Peter, Peter refused. He was in essence correcting the Master. He was going to tell Jesus what he thought about this entire process. Peter felt that Jesus was demeaning Himself and he did not want to be part of it. Jesus had to straighten Simon out and teach him a thing or two.

Please know that rejection is a part of service. Someone will criticize you when you serve. You will not have the applause of everyone when you serve God. If you have tender feelings, you will not make it! You have to withstand rejection. There is always someone who thinks they know what you ought be doing more than you know yourself.

A young man was standing with a crowd waiting for a bus right outside a taxidermist's shop. They were all looking in the widow at the displays. In the center of the window there was a large owl that attracted everyone's attention. The self-appointed expert began to criticize the job done on the owl. He said, "If I couldn't do better than that, I'd find another business. Just look at it. The head is out of proportion, the pose of the body is unnatural, and the feet are pointed in the wrong direction." Just as he finished saying this, the owl turned his head and gave the man a broad wink. The crowd laughed as the critic sank, for the owl was very much alive!

Don't worry about rejection. Many who stand on the sidelines and criticize don't know what they are talking about. Just do what God has called you to do and be faithful to the end. Paul put it this way in Galatians 1:10-11, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up."

IV. V Volunteer

The letter V stands for Volunteer. Jesus volunteered to wash the disciple’s feet. They were waiting for someone else to do it. Not one of them would volunteer for the task. So, Jesus stepped in to the gap and filled. A servant sees what needs to be done and does it!

Being a volunteer does not mean that a call for service is absent. After all, God called Isaiah by saying, as recorded in Isaiah 6:8, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" This was a general call to fill a position of service. God did not say, "Isaiah, you are the one, will you do this for me?" Isaiah saw the need and as a servant of the Lord answered, "Here am I. Send me!"

Jesus was the ultimate volunteer. When it came time for Him to die Jesus said, "No man takes my life from me, I lay it down on my own." We are never more like our Lord than when we are willing to do the work He shows us and to do it eagerly, sacrificially and faithfully.

V. A Accountable

The letter A stands for Accountable. A servant is a steward. A steward is someone who is given a responsibility to take care of something for someone else. The steward will give an account for his stewardship. For example, I am a pastor. I will give account for my service in this church and others I have served. My accountability is ultimately not to you but ultimately it is to Him! Look at what the Bible says about this in Romans 14:12, "So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." This passage speaks of believers not unbelievers. We shall give an account for our lives. You shall give account for the talents, gifts and possessions you were given on this earth. I shall do the same. Did we use them for the Master? Were we His servants or did we try to turn God into our servant, seeking to make Him do our bidding. In Matthew 18:23 Jesus says that the kingdom of God is like a man who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. Yes, we will give an account of our lives to Him.

VI. N Noble

The letter N stands for Noble. The disciples often struggled with the question of who would be greater in the kingdom. Jesus said that the greatest would be the servant. Look at Luke 22:24-27, which reads, “Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.’”

The most noble of all tasks in God's kingdom is that task which appears to be the least noble to the world. Oh, how the world looks down on us as Christians. They see those of us who preach, teach, sing and serve our Master as ignorant, backward, narrow, and dumb. But that is all right, for we were told by our Lord that the world would look at us like that. In God's eyes, the most noble position on earth is a lowly one of service for His Name's sake.

VII. T Triumphant

Jesus said that a cup of cold water given in His name would not lose a reward in heaven. Serve God and you will be triumphant. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 25:21, His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"

"I got my M.B.A. long before my General Equivalency Degree. I even have a photograph of me in my M.B.A. graduation outfit - a snazzy knee length work apron. I guarantee you that I'm the only founder among America's big companies whose picture in the corporate annual report shows him wielding a mop and a plastic bucket. That wasn't a gag; it was a case of leading by example. At Wendy's, M.B.A. does not mean Master of Business Administration. It means Mop Bucket Attitude. It's how we define satisfying the customer through cleanliness, quality food, friendly service, and atmosphere. It is a shame when the owners of businesses have a greater attitude toward service than the children of God." (Dave Thomas)

Conclusion

The modern Christian gets up in the morning and says, "Lord, what will you do for me today?" The early Christian got up in the morning and said, "Lord, what would have me do for you today?"

The modern Christian gets up in the morning and says, "Lord, give me a good day today." The early Christian got up in the morning and said, "Lord, give me a fruitful day today."

The modern Christian looks at the world condition and says, "Lord, why doesn't' somebody do something?" The early Christian got up in the morning and said, "Lord, let me do something."

The modern Christian looks at the failure in the church and says, "Lord, what is wrong with my pastor, my staff, my deacons, my teachers?" The early Christian looked at the failure in the church and asked, "Lord, what is wrong with me?"

The early Christian turned the world upside down. The modern Christian is seeing the world turned upside down on the church. What is the difference in then and now? They saw themselves as servants and decided to do all they could to be faithful to God and more like Jesus everyday! What would you do, if you had a few days to live? Jesus got down and washed his disciple’s feet. He revealed to them the servants heart! Precious Jesus! Our example! He was faithful to the end. Isaiah 42:4 reads, "He shall not fail and shall not be discouraged."

Let us not become discouraged. Let us not grow weary in well doing. Let us not be dissuaded by the world or a backslidden church. Let us go on faithfully for Him. Let us triumphantly hear Him say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant!”