To Serve or To Be Served

Yesterday Wendy and I took Hannah to Greenville Spartanburg Airport. We sent her off on a one-month trek to Ecuador where she will hang with missionaries, share the Gospel, canoe the Amazon and hike an icy mountain. You can imagine the mixed emotions we had as we left her in the hands of her Intercultural Studies professor and a dozen other students.

When we left we went to a nearby restaurant and sat down to eat. We were a bit tired and emotionally drained. When we walked into the restaurant it never occurred to us to serve. We went there to be served. J. B., our waiter, brought us a menu, asked us what we wanted to drink, brought our ice waters (with lemon of course!) and took our order. He brought our food to us, refilled our waters and graciously waited on us. It never occurred to us that we should serve–we walked in there to be served.

When J. B. walked into that restaurant yesterday, it never occurred to him that he would be served. He came to serve. His sole purpose for coming to work yesterday was to serve.

Jesus can identify with J. B.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)

Jesus did not walk on planet earth to be served. It never occurred to him to sit down at the table and wait on someone to take his order. No! He entered planet earth to serve. He sat down at the well with the Samaritan woman. He fed thousands with a few loaves and fish. He cried over Lazarus’s death.  He donned a towel and washed the disciples’ feet. He hung humiliated on a wooden cross. He gave his life a ransom for many.

How will you walk into your day today? As a server or a customer?

Son of God, Son of Man

son of manIn the Gospels Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man 85 times. Why would the Son of God’s favorite designation for himself be Son of Man? In his conversation with the disciples in Mark 10 he gives us some insight:

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45 ESV)

The simple meaning of Son of Man is that Jesus was human. He was born of a woman like other men. He grew up like other children. He got hungry and thirsty. He experienced loneliness and exhilaration. He was the Son of Man.

Yet he was the Son of God. As the Son of God he was unlike any other human being. He was born of woman, conceived by the Spirit. He grew up like other children yet unlike other children. Luke tells the story:

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:46-49 ESV)

As the Son of God he longed to be in His Father’s house.

Why would the Son of God’s favorite title for himself be, not the Son of God, but the Son of Man? Because he came, not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. God, by his very nature, must be served. No one is higher than Him, no one more deserving of praise, no one more deserving of glory. He must be served.

In Jesus the served became the servant, the glorified became crucified, the holy was humiliated. At the very heart of Christianity is selfless service because we worship the Son of God who was the Son of Man.