The Lord Messiah is looking for servants, not church goers, not messianic synagogue goers who go to a worship service, sing some songs, hear a message, donate some money and leave. The Lord Messiah is looking for servants. A servant is someone who has a master and puts his master’s interests before his own.
Human beings are not servants by nature. Because of the Fall of Man, we have a selfish nature. We don’t want to serve others. We want others to serve us. The same is true with us and God. We want God to not exist; or if he exists, we want Him to ignore us or, even better, serve us. We don’t want to serve Him.
However, those who know the Lord understand things differently. We understand that God is God and we are not. He is the Creator and we are His creatures. He is the King and we are His subjects. He is the Potter and we are His clay. He is the Lord and we are His servants.
Throughout the ages, the redeemed ones have been the Lord’s servants.
Abraham, the first Jewish person, was the Lord’s servant. Psalm 105: The Lord remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham.
So was Moses. At the burning bush, Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.
David described himself as a servant: Save your servant who trusts in you … Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you … show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did (Psalm 86).
Paul and Timothy began their letter to the Philippians this way: Paul and Timothy, servants of Messiah Yeshua.
Peter began his second letter this way: Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Yeshua the Messiah.
Ya’acov, James, the brother of the Lord, began his letter this way: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
Jude, the brother of the Lord began his letter this way: Jude, a servant of Yeshua the Messiah and a brother of James.
We are to follow the examples of Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, Timothy, Peter, James and Jude. We are to be the Lord’s servants.
And the greatest of God’s servants? Yeshua. The Son of God always served His Father. He always put God and God’s will and God’s interests before His own, even if it meant inconvenience, or suffering – even death.
The Father said of Him, in the great Isaiah 53 prophecy about the Messiah: See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
On the Shavuot when the Spirit was given, Peter, speaking to a large crowd, said this about Yeshua: The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Yeshua.
Yeshua is the greatest of God’s servants. And we are to be like Yeshua. We must be God’s servants, putting God and God’s will and God’s interests before our own, even if it means inconvenience, or suffering – even death.
What does a servant look like? Yeshua told us. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me (John 12).
A servant is someone who follows Yeshua. Where Yeshua goes, he goes. What Yeshua is doing, he is doing. What Yeshua focuses on, he focuses on. What Yeshua is interested in, he is interested in.
A servant is someone who puts the interests of his Lord before his own. Another way of saying this is he hates his life in this world. Hating your life means putting your interests second and putting Yeshua’s interests first. That’s being a servant.
Loving your life means putting your interests first and putting Yeshua’s interests second. That’s not being a servant of Yeshua.
To be Yeshua’s servant, we must know what His interests are and put His interests before our own. We must give up our interests to serve His interests. So, what are Yeshua’s interests? Simple. Two things:
One: Yeshua is interested in the salvation of people. He came to Earth to save people. His name, Yeshua, which means salvation, reinforces this. You will call His name Yeshua because He will save His people from their sins.
Yeshua’s teaching at the synagogue in His home town also reinforces this. Luke 4: Yeshua went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Proclaiming good news about salvation through faith in Himself was the heart of Yeshua’s ministry. It’s true that He did other things: He taught people. He helped people. He healed people. He did other miracles. But the ultimate purpose of all the teaching and helping and healing and miracles was to help people know that He is the Messiah, the One who is able to save us from the things we can’t save ourselves from – Satan and the demons, sin and the sin nature, death and Hell. His mission was evangelism.
And Yeshua’s mission of evangelism is incomplete. His mission to save people is still going on. Yeshua’s is still focused on saving people. He is still focused on world evangelism – but now He is at the right hand of Power, and is proclaiming the Good News and saving people through His followers. So, putting Yeshua’s interests before our interests means we are to proclaim the message about Him and the salvation He brings to everyone we can. That is our interest. That is our focus. If we’re not doing that, we’re not really serving Him.
Two: Yeshua is interested in growing His Community. After we are saved, we need to become like Yeshua. We need to grow to spiritual maturity. That can only take place in Messiah’s Community. Therefore, we must be active, involved members of a local community of Yeshua-followers. We must learn and grow and be transformed. But, being an active, involved member of one of Messiah’s communities is about more than our growth. We must do things to help the community grow. We must serve our brothers and sisters in the community.
Think of it this way: The greatest command is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and might. But how do we love God? We love Him by loving the people He lives in. We are the temple He lives in. God lives in Messiah’s Community. The Lord lives in His people. God lives us.
To love the Lord means to love His people. To be involved with the Lord means to be involved with His people. To serve the Lord means to serve His people. We don’t love God, who we don’t see, if we don’t love the people He lives in, who we do see. We aren’t serving God, who we don’t see, if we don’t serve the people He lives in, who we do see.
Yeshua’s two interests: Continuing His mission of world evangelism by proclaiming the message of salvation, and building His Community. We serve Yeshua’s two interests by proclaiming the message of salvation to those outside the Community of Salvation and by serving our brothers and sisters who are part of the Community of Salvation.
Are you serving Yeshua, or are you like James and John, who wanted Yeshua to serve them? Matthew 20 describes events close to the end of Yeshua’s ministry: Now Yeshua was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
If you were a follower of Yeshua, and believed He was the Messiah and the King of Israel, and He told you this, what should you do? The answer is: believe Him, and try to support Him during His coming ordeal.
James and John, however, did not believe Him and were not thinking about how to serve Him in His coming ordeal. They were thinking how Yeshua could serve them. They were not thinking about His interests. They were thinking about their own interests.
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Yeshua with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Yeshua said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Yeshua said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Yeshua called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Yeshua acknowledged that it’s OK to have ambition to be great. However, that ambition needs to be directed in the right way. The way to become great is not by being a lord over your brothers and sisters, so that they serve you, but by being a servant of your brothers and sisters, so that you serve them. And Yeshua told us that He is our example to follow. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Yeshua is the Son of Man, the ideal human being. And He is that Son of Man who appeared before the Ancient of Days and was given authority to rule humanity.
So, even thought Yeshua is the King of the nations and the Lord of all, He came not to be served by people, but to serve people. He served us by sacrificing His perfect life, because that alone could ransom us from the power of Satan, and sin and death.
He who is the greatest among us served us in the greatest way by paying the highest price.
And that’s what He wants from us. He wants us to not want to be served, but to serve our brothers and sisters. And we serve our brothers and sisters by being part of a community of Messiah’s followers, and helping our brothers and sisters.
You don’t need to be in full-time ministry to be the Lord’s servant. You serve Him when you are at work. Even though you are working for your boss, working for your company, you are serving the Lord who has given you that job. Your job is part of your service to the Lord, so you work with diligence. You work with excellence. You have a great attitude. You serve the Lord by reaching out to the people you work with. They are your mission field. You get to know them. You try to tell them all about Yeshua.
You serve the Lord when you are at home. By serving your family, being a good husband, wife, son or daughter, you are serving the Lord.
You serve the Lord when you are here. You are actively involved. You are connected to the leaders of the community so that we know you and are able to speak into your life and direct you in ways to serve the Lord by serving your brothers and sisters.
So, I ask you, why are you here today? To sing some songs, hear a message, maybe donate some money and leave? Or are you here to sing some songs, hear a message, maybe donate some money and serve your brothers and sisters, getting to know them and doing things to help them? There are many ways to serve the Lord at Shema. There are many tasks here that need to be done. Find at least one. If you can’t, I’ll help you find one.
Yeshua is looking for servants, not church or synagogue goers. He is looking for people who will put Him and His interests first, people who are serious, focused, committed, devoted, single-minded, wholehearted, passionate. Won’t you be one of them?
Do you love your life in this world, or do you hate it? Who are you serving? Yeshua? Or yourself? What are you serving? Your interests or His interests?
One final thought. The Lord knows how to reward His servants. Those give up their interests in order to serve the Lord’s interests will be greatly rewarded. We reap what we sow. The more we give up our interests, the more we will be rewarded.
Let’s pray: Lord, help us not to play church, play congregation, play synagogue. Help us to be real followers, true disciples, real servants. Amen.