This Week's Focus Passage

The Nature of a Servant

Focus Passage: Luke 12:37

‘He shall gird himself; make them sit down to meat, and come and serve them.’

In Luke 17:5ff, we are given the narrative teaching of Jesus Christ on the nature of servants; that narrative that culminates in the exhortation of verse 10, ‘Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do.’ The illustration preceding that exhortation provides a somewhat startling comparison with our focus passage this week. The Lord Jesus begins this illustration with a pertinent question:

But who is there of you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will say unto him, when he is come in from the field, Come straightway and sit down to meat; and will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken: and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?

Jesus is describing for us here, is He not, the unprofitable servant that has only done the things that were commanded; the things that were his duty to do. He has done nothing exceptional. He has simply met the minimum requirements. All that he—and we for that matter—can say after having met the minimum requirements is, ‘we are yet unprofitable servants.’

Contrasted with this description of a ‘normal’ servant,’ is that picture which we are given of the One who made Himself a servant, of whom His Father had prophetically said through Isaiah, ‘Behold, my Servant!’ and in fulfillment at the baptism of Christ, ‘Behold, my servant whom I have chosen; my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased.’ Matthew 12:18. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. And in Luke 12:37—He who having loved His own and loving them to the end—we have a beautiful portraiture of Him, having served His own, serving them to the end. It is virtually inescapable that Christ is here speaking of the coming of the Bridegroom, ‘when he shall return from the marriage feast,’ and He has said,

Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning; and be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their lord, when he shall return from the marriage feast; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may straightway open unto him. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and shall come and serve them.

Yes, He has said, He shall come and serve them! Is this not astounding? And yet, we ask why should it strike us as astounding when we remember His servant-hood throughout His entire ministry? We are reminded of the familiar, yet not the less poignant for its’ familiarity, passage in Paul’s epistle to the Philippians, and chapter two, ‘Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.’ What a ‘profitable servant’ He made Himself to be for our sakes! He was not satisfied with any bare minimums, but ‘being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.’ We reflect considerably, as we should, upon Christ’s willingness to come to save His people from their sins, when He cried out in His pre-incarnate days, ‘Lo, I am come; In the roll of the book, it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God; Yea, thy law is within my heart.’ It was planned and ordained from before the foundation of the world that He would come and perfectly—not minimally—keep the law of His God for His children; He would be such a servant unto their unspeakable need. He came as Prophet, Priest, and King. He teaches us by His Spirit given to indwell us; He has as our Great High Priest sacrificed Himself, the Lamb of God, to satisfy God’s justice on our behalf; and as our King He has subdued us unto Himself. Here in our focus passage, we see Him as our beautiful Bridegroom coming for His bride when she has experienced removal of every spot or wrinkle. He seats His bride at His table to serve her; amazing grace!!

As David is a wonderful type of our Lord Jesus Christ, we may witness by way of that beautiful typology, in the narrative of David and Mephibosheth found in the 9th of 2nd Samuel, our King serving us, perhaps prefiguring the occasion of our focus passage. David has just been made king over—not Judah alone—but now all twelve tribes of Israel; the entire kingdom over which Saul had ruled until his death at the hands of the Philistines upon Mount Gilboa. The ‘man after God’s own heart’ had covenanted with one after his own heart, namely Jonathan, the son of Saul and, humanly speaking, the heir-apparent of his father’s throne. Jonathan had made David swear ‘thou shalt not only while yet I live show me the lovingkindness of Jehovah that I die not; but also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever.’—1st Samuel 20:14ff. In pursuance of fealty to this covenant promise, David inquires whether there be ‘any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’ It is reported to him that there is yet one child of Jonathan, a son by the name of Mephibosheth ‘who is lame of his feet.’ David sent to have him brought to him, saying, ‘he shall eat at my table, as one of the king’s sons.’ ‘Who am I,’ said Jonathan’s lame son, ‘but a dead dog?’ And who are we but lame children made whole through Christ, knowing that in ourselves we are less than dead dogs? Yet, even as David brought Mephibosheth to his table, whom he might have put under his table, so shall our King bring us to His table and, outdoing the type, this Shepherd-King shall feed His sheep. The type may be grand, but the Antitype is glorious!

David Farmer

Elder, Fellowship Bible Church


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