I occasionally eat at a Wendy’s for lunch. It’s close to my office. I like their burger better than other chains. Plus they give me free drinks! But I’m often reminded of their founder, the late Dave Thomas. Remember his commercials? He was affable. Humble. And just down-to-earth.
Once Thomas was asked what made him so successful. His answer? “My MBA!” But he didn’t mean a graduate degree in business education. He called it a “mop and bucket attitude.” For him no task was too menial. He simply rolled up his sleeves and joined in to get the job done. Great leaders are like that.
Jesus, the greatest of all leaders, came with that MBA attitude. In fact, the prophet Isaiah frequently refers to the Messiah as “the servant” or “my servant.” “Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.” (Isa 52:13). Jesus was a servant. But unlike any other servant, CEO, or leader.
Jesus spoke the words of a humble servant. He said “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt 25:20-28).
He taught. He trained. He encouraged. His words were not the ranting of an egomaniac, or an arrogant tyrant. But they were words of kindness. Compassion. And concern.
Jesus displayed wisdom as a humble servant. Isaiah said he would “deal prudently.” And indeed he did. Many times. In the shadow of the cross as Thursday turned into Friday, he demonstrated his humility in washing the disciples’ feet. It was in stark contrast to their contentious quarreling about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom! In that simple yet profound act he wisely demonstrated that if the Master was willing to humble himself and serve others, then His followers should do the same.
Jesus did the work of a humble servant. He came and lived as a servant. A servant in the carpenter’s shop with Joseph. A servant to his brethren. A servant even to his disciples and apostles. A servant to his followers. While his miracles were designed to prove His Deity, they often were the result of his compassion for the plight of the downtrodden. He ate with sinners. Mingled with the outcasts of society. And invested himself in those who sought Him.
Jesus died on the cross as a sacrificial servant. The cross became the greatest example of his servant mentality. He became “the suffering servant.” He came to serve sinners. To be sacrificed for sinners. To save sinners. Like you and me! But the world didn’t get it. On that Friday 20 centuries ago, they just saw another man crucified on calvary’s hill. What they didn’t know…Sunday was coming!
Jesus became the victorious servant on that resurrection Sunday! Just like the prophet said he would. Exalted! Extolled! Lifted high! Paul expressed Jesus’ victory this way.
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11)
Remember this. And never forget it. We serve a Savior that was a victorious servant. He endured a lowly life of sorrow, suffering in a sinful world. But He served others. And so as you endure your Friday’s of disappointment, discouragement and dismay. Keep serving! Keep shining! And keep smiling! Just as He was triumphant, so you will be too!
It’s Friday, but your Sunday of victory is coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman