Developing the Servant Heart of Jesus

 In Tori Smith

Over the next few blogs I want to focus on developing a servant heart. I do so for two reasons. One, it’s that time of year.  Every spring for the past 15 years, we ask you to make a commitment to a servant ministry. Number two, and the focus of this blog, is that Jesus is our role model for having a servant heart.

The word servant may not be the first word that comes to mind to describe Jesus, but it is used often to describe Him in the scriptures. He lived a servant life. In fact, the Gospel of Mark takes great pains to describe Jesus as a servant.

Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  We think of Jesus as Lord and Savior, and He is. But He earned those titles because of His humble and servant heart. Philippians 2:5-11offers these familiar words to describe Jesus, “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Isaiah 42:1-4 defines Jesus as the Messiah servant. John, Matthew and Luke all point to the servant heart of Jesus.

So, throughout scriptures we see Jesus being described as a servant and his actions reveal his servant nature. In Luke 22:27, we find Jesus pointing to His actions to define His servant heart, “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.” He was among them as a servant and they were often uncomfortable with this image of Him.

Consider the story found in John 13-1-7. “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 

Could there be a greater act of servanthood than when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples? I’ve only participated in a foot washing a couple of times. Even though we as Christians are challenged to exemplify the body of Christ, this is not a worship service we normally plan. It makes us feel awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassed!  And yet, we find Jesus washing the feet of the disciples — humbling himself to the lowliest of all servants.

Peter found it difficult to accept Jesus as a servant and we might feel awkward and uncomfortable to follow the example of Jesus by becoming a servant – looking beyond our needs and serving those around us. And yet, that is a life that Jesus lived, and it is the life he calls us to live. How is your servant heart?


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