Servant

Topics: Bible, New Testament, Jesus Pages: 6 (2571 words) Published: March 14, 2014
In Mark 10, two of the disciples had just asked Jesus to sit on his right hand and left hand in glory at which the other disciples became agitated with the two. Jesus’ response is to call the disciples together and explain the unique nature of Kingdom leadership. Jesus proclaims, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. The picture of a servant is much more than an illustration; Jesus is communicating a powerful principle regarding the kingdom of God. The implications of this servant principle are profound. Today, when we think of the term “servant”, certain stereotypes come to mind. We may think of a butler or a maid from Downton Abbey, or perhaps a “server” in a restaurant. However, the depth and meaning of our calling is much deeper than that. It is imperative for believers today to have a biblical understanding of what Jesus has called us to in regards to servanthood. It is important to define a few key elements at the outset of this study. First, the scope of this study will be limited to the Protestant Canon; that is, the Old and New Testament. As we trace through the Canon of scripture this will gives us a wide breadth of God’s Word to gain context and development of theme through the writings of many authors over a wide span of time. A second important clarifying question in regards to this study revolves around terminology. We will limit our study to a few key terms, “servant of the Lord” and “servant of God”. There are hundreds of times where the term “servant” is used throughout scripture. I am limiting my focus to the more specific terms in hopes to find greater understanding and application. The specific terms I have chosen are often used as titles. In Hebrew, we will primarily look at passages with יְהוִה עֶבֶד (servant of Yahweh). In Greek, we will focus in on the terms παίς, δοῦλος, and διάκονος for servant. I believe this will give clarity as we pursue our own desire to live the life of a servant as Jesus illustrated. The term servant is used as a description of individuals, groups, and the nation of Israel. The patriarchs are described as servants of the Lord (Ex. 32:13, Deut. 9:27). The kings and prophets of Israel are described in this way as well (1 Kings 3, Isa 20:3). Israel itself is described as a servant of the Lord (Isa. 41:8-9). However, there are specific instances where ‘servant of the Lord’ seems to be a more of an intentional use, something more like a title. The actual phrase יְהוִה עֶבֶד (servant of Yahweh) appears 25 times in the Old Testament. Eighteen of these occurrences are referring to Moses (Deut. 34:5, Josh. 1:1, 13, 15; 8:31, 33; 11:12; 12:6; 13:8; 14:7; 18:7; 22:2, 4, 5; 2Kings 18:12; 2 Chron. 1:3; 24:6). “Servant” occurs a total of forty-two times in reference to Moses. Of these, the most common use is the ‘servant of Yahweh’ title. Moses is naturally an important person to examine when it comes to this servant motif. Looking closer at these specific eighteen verses an interesting pattern seems to develop that gives some insight. Many of the references of servant are followed by the verb commanded, “Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded”. Joshua uses this phrase repeatedly to remind the people and to call them to obedience. This emphasizes Moses’ role as Israel’s teacher. Similarly, Joshua 11:15 says that “Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.” There is a clear sequence of God commanding His servants who in turn commands and teaches the people. We see that the ‘servant of Yahweh’, then, is often understood as one who teaches, trains, and instructs the people in the law. Moving to the New Testament, Moses is mentioned in seventy-nine verses. One of the interesting points regarding Moses in the New Testament is that he only receives a title two times (Heb. 3:5, Rev. 15:3). In both cases he is called a servant. The word used in...
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