(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
The Servant of All
30th April 2011
As Jesus began his last journey towards Jerusalem, He found quiet places so He could talk to His disciples privately and without interruption. He tried once more to explain that He was going to be crucified. But they just couldn't understand. Jesus was the King of the Jews, the Messiah - God's Anointed One, the King of Glory, the Son of David. Surely He would triumph over His enemies. The idea the Jesus would achieve that triumph by dying on the cross and then rising from the dead was unthinkable for them.
But they knew something mysterious and deep was happening, and they knew Jesus was telling them something important, and they knew they didn't understand. This all made them "afraid to ask him about it".
These were well-meaning people. They had the decency to be ashamed when Jesus let them know that he'd overhead them on the road. They knew they'd been wrong to argue about their status and position. They didn't bluster or argue. They'd sinned and they knew it, and they were silent before Jesus.
In the world of business, people fight for position, status, money and power. They fight in various ways, some with a greater or lesser sense of decency than others. When a manager retires, for example, many of those who worked for him will want his job, and will often slander and cheat each other to get it. This fight for prominence happens in other situations, too, even in the school playground. Perhaps it's most obvious in politics, where parties and individuals seek to destroy each other's reputations as they attempt to gain electoral advantage.
Such things must never happen in the church.
Jesus had just explained that He was going to lay down His life for us. The disciples couldn't imagine that kind of self-sacrifice. Now he explained the nature of leadership in the Kingdom of God. In leadership, as in all things, we are to emulate our Saviour. Jesus our Leader was our Servant, and a church leader must be the servant of every member of the church. To be a church leader is to be the servant of all. It is to be last - more of a servant than anybody else.
To lead a church is to take care of the vulnerable, to pay particular attention to those that others might ignore, to welcome those who cannot give us anything back, to seek to love as Jesus loves.
If you're a church leader, and if you've fallen into expecting the church to serve you, then will you, like the disciples, stand silent before Jesus as he reminds us that we are called to be the servants of all?