The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
Epitaphs attempt to reduce somebody’s life to a sentence or two on a slab of stone. Mel Blanc, who was the voice of Bugs Bunny and other Warner Brothers cartoon characters, got to choose his epitaph, which is written on his gravestone today. It reads, “That’s all, folks.”
If you had the opportunity to create your own epitaph, how would it read? What sentence would you use to describe your life? Perhaps you would choose some outstanding achievement for which you would like to be remembered. Maybe you would include some character quality you think is appealing to other people. That is kind of a morbid thought, isn’t it? To sit down and think about creating your own epitaph?
Let’s change the question a bit. What if you had the chance to create the epitaph for the empty tomb of Jesus Christ? If you had to reduce the Lord’s life down to one sentence or two, how would you describe Him? Perhaps you would choose “King of kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega.” Maybe you would choose the phrase from Colossians 1:16: “All things have been created through Him and for Him.” Certainly, each of those phrases denotes something of the majesty of the Second Person of the Godhead. But those words were written by somebody other than Jesus.
I have a sneaking suspicion that if Jesus were to describe Himself, He would use words similar to Mark 10:45, in which He said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” When you think about that, it almost takes your breath away. Of all of the things Jesus could say He wanted to be remembered for, it was the fact that He came not to be served but to serve others. Think about it. Before Bethlehem, Jesus Christ existed in eternity past. He was equal to God the Father. All creation worshiped Jesus before the beginning of time. The Bible says that He created this entire universe that we see (Colossians 1:16). Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus “upholds all things by the word of His power.” And think about the future. One day when we’re in heaven, all of us will be worshiping Christ. We’ll be bowing down and singing, “Worthy is the Lamb.” We’ll be focusing on what Jesus Christ did for us in securing our salvation on the cross.
But right now Jesus says the thing above all He wants to be remembered for is not His majesty, and it’s not His glory. He wants to be remembered as One who came not to be served but to serve other people. That helps us understand why servant hood is such an important quality to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just consider a few things Jesus said about serving others. In Matthew 20:25–27, He said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” And in Matthew 23:11–12, the Lord said, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”
When we cut through all of the peripheral issues of Christianity, what is it that God really wants for us? He wants our lives to resemble Jesus Christ in our thoughts, our attitudes, our affections, and our actions. And we are never more like Jesus Christ than when we put the interests of other people above our own—when we learn to serve others.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Developing a Trusting Heart” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.