Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...


Thoughts on God: Servanthood

It was not all that long ago that I was reading through the first chapter of Mark when I hit the verse where John the Baptist tells us, "After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." I pictured in my head this man, this relative of Jesus by the flesh, not only unwilling to stoop down and untie the thong of Jesus' sandals, but unworthy to do so. I'm not certain what the cultural implications of such an action were, but I'm pretty sure that untying the thongs of sandals wasn't something that Kings and Queens did for their servants. If anything, I would think that the lowliest of servants would perform such a duty for Kings and Queens, not vice-versa. What was John saying about himself, then? If he said that he is not "fit" to untie Jesus' sandals, is he implying that he's too high and mighty for that? Is he saying that he's too low even for that honor? What is being said of Jesus with that assertion? Surely, there must be something being illustrated about Jesus' surpassing worth when John says that he isn't fit to untie His sandals.

Yet, my thoughts on John's claim don't center on John, they center on Jesus, and they don't center on what's said here, but what's done later.

Luke and John are the only gospel accounts that share John the Baptist's proclamation and the portrayal of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. It is there that my thoughts immediately went when I read what John said in Mark; it is there that I saw a sweet irony.

Over the years, I've observed within myself a natural disinclination toward humility. Even when doing tasks that would, at least on the outside, appear to be humble, I feel a roiling pride in my humble appearance, and it's just waiting to explode into a glorious proclamation of my great humility. In this, I am vastly different from Christ; in this, I would wager a guess, I am far more like John the Baptist.

As I read through what John was saying about Jesus and try to reconcile that with the manner in which Jesus washed the disciples' feet, I keep seeing the thread of Christ's worth woven together with His worthiness to serve. The two, it seems to me, to be directly related. The reason John could not serve in the same way Jesus could serve, quite simply, is because he was not worthy. All he did was tainted by and with sin. The lowliest servanthood was not below John, it was above him. The ability to serve sinners, let alone serve God, was one that eluded him. Such elusiveness, however, did not plague Christ. He was found to be perfect, not only in His life on earth, but also in His deity. Thus, He was the perfect Servant. Where John was tainted with sin, Christ shone with the glory of the only begotten Son. Where John was found lacking, Christ was found as surpassing. It was not merely a sinless life that God required for His Servant, as we learn in Hebrews, but a glory that outshone that of the angels. Christ was able to perform the lowliest service because He was, in a sense, so far above it.

Yet it does not end there. Ryan preached a sermon earlier this summer from the account of the washing of the disciples' feet in John 13. He spoke about the humility it takes for us as sinners saved by grace to go to our Lord over and over and over again, confessing and repenting of sin. Such humility is not easy, for such humility requires us to ask Jesus to stoop low and humbly serve us. And oh, how we hate to do that! It grinds against our very nature to confess our need, to ask Christ to wash us of the grime of our sins our feet collect as we trod the broken paths of a lost world. Yet, is it not in this that we have our example, yea, our very command to go forth and serve? Indeed it is, for it is now in Christ that we are able to stoop low and be Christ unto others, for He has given us His Spirit. John was not able to go stoop low and untie Jesus' sandals, yet were he alive in the flesh today, he would now be worthy to stoop low and serve...much like Christ did.

posted by Bolo | 12:33 PM
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