Light of the World



Booklet 15


Christ, the Servant of Mankind

"I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22:27).

"Jesus Christ," said one writer, "is the most powerful spiritual force that ever operated for good on and in humanity." He came to earth to do us good—only good. He came "not . . . to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). Jesus did not live for Himself, but to serve others. Though He was Lord of heaven and earth, He was the servant of mankind.

God in heaven does not live to Himself. He who created the worlds sustains all things moment by moment and upholds these "things by his powerful word" (Hebrews 1:3). And He reveals Himself as an active God who is interested in all His creatures and supplies them with the necessities of life.

"He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45).

Not only does the Creator have a special interest in mankind, but He cares for the animals and the birds, supplying them with food.

"The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing" (Psalm 145:15, 16).

As the head of the human race, Christ showed us that the great purpose of life is to give of yourself—all of yourself—to bless others. And those who follow Christ and catch His spirit suddenly find themselves. They discover that God has a blueprint for their lives and that life takes on new meaning when they are willing to follow it.

The reason Christ is the greatest man, the best man, is that He is the most helpful and the most humble man. He taught that true greatness is in proportion to true goodness. His life and teachings were full of this principle, as we will see.

WHO IS THE GREATEST?
The love of first place and high honor began with Lucifer when he coveted the place next to God's throne (see Isaiah 14:12-15). He was thrown out of heaven because of his self seeking (see Revelation 12:7-9), but his spirit is present on earth today even among Christ's disciples. We all need to beware of self centeredness. G. F. B. Hallock once said, "There is many a life which never sees beyond its own doorstep, its own comforts or convenience." But "in the estimation of heaven, greatness of character consists in living for the welfare of our fellow men and doing works of love and mercy."

The day before Jesus was crucified, "a dispute arose among them [Jesus' disciples] as to which of them was considered to be greatest" (Luke 22:24). In the very shadow of the cross, Christ had to contend with selfishness among His closest followers. He had dealt with this problem before (see Matthew 18:1-5), but the disciples were slow to learn the lesson. Jesus proceeded to repeat this important principle:

"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22:25-27).

Christ was the servant of sinful, fallen human beings (see John 13:1-17). This was the true glory of His life. He sought no position or title of honor for Himself. He received no money for His work as a religious teacher. He was poor and homeless.

"Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head" (Luke 9:58).

He sought only the good of others. Unselfishly, He worked to help His fellow men. Thus, by example and precept He could rebuke the unfaithful scribes and Pharisees and priests who sought the highest positions and so often misinterpreted the true religion to their followers.

CHRIST REBUKES THE FALSE MINISTERS
(Read Matthew 23:1-33)
As Jesus taught in the temple, He said, "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them" (Matthew 23:2-4).

In other words, these religious leaders claim to have the same power that Moses had. They demand respect and submission in all religious duties and requirements, but they are hypocrites. Obey the rabbis when they teach according to the law, but do not follow their example because they do not practice their own teaching.

Jesus denounced the pride and ambition which grasped for positions of power and influence. This vanity was especially noticeable at feasts, where guests were seated according to their rank. Jesus not only condemned this practice, but He exposed the shallow pride which clamored for titles of honor. Of the rabbis he said:

"They love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.' But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matthew 23:6-12).

There is danger today, as in Christ's time, that mere humans in the church will usurp the place of God by assuming titles and positions of dignity and honor that belong only to Him. Jesus taught that the affections and loyalties should be centered in the Supreme Being, not in humans. If God is given His rightful place as the true object of worship, His followers will naturally find their place and live to serve one another as brethren.

CHRIST COMMENDS SELF SACRIFICE
(Read Mark 12:38-44 and Luke 21:1-4)
In the midst of Christ's denunciation of the scribes and the Pharisees, an interruption occurred which gave Him the opportunity to teach a lesson in sacrifice. Christ was sitting near the temple treasury where the people came to bring their gifts and tithes. The rich gave large sums which they deposited in the treasury chests with great pomp and show. The Savior warned against these selfish men who "devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely" (Mark 12:40).

A poor widow approached, hopeful that no one would see her. She had a gift for God, but it was small. She was reluctant to give it openly but, thinking that no one was watching, she threw in her two "small copper coins" (Mark 12:42) and started to leave. Observing her action, Christ declared to His disciples:

"I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on" (Mark 12:43, 44).

The widow probably heard Christ's words and was greatly encouraged by them. When she gave her all, she did not realize how far her influence would reach. And so, friend, even if your gifts are small, God will bless them if you give them with cheerfulness and in the spirit of sacrifice. There are few of us who cannot do some little thing to advance the cause of Christ.

Listen to the words of Paul:

"Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).

On this same occasion Christ called attention to the practice of paying tithe. He did not condemn this; on the contrary, He said that tithing ought not to be left undone. The Jews paid tithe of "spices—mint, dill, and cumin." They were particular about these little details but "neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness" (Matthew 23:23).

The tithe is one-tenth of our increase, and it is "holy to the Lord"(Leviticus 27:30; see also verse 30-32). In addition, freewill offerings are to be given to God's work. Here is His invitation:

" 'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it' " (Malachi 3:10).

In ancient times, the Levites, who were the ministers of the sanctuary, were supported by the tithe. The ministry of God's church today also ought to be supported by the tithe, or one-tenth of the increase in earnings of believers (see 1 Corinthians 9:8-14).

Those who pay tithe are in business with God—junior partners with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Try it and see. With God's blessing, nine-tenths of your income will go much further than the whole amount without God's blessing.

CHRIST'S DISCIPLES WORKED AS HE DID
(Read Matthew 10 and Luke 10)
During the height of Christ's popularity in Galilee, He called His disciples to Him and gave them orders to go out and teach and heal, putting into practice the things they had observed in His life and ministry. They needed an experience in working as Christ worked for the souls of men and women, so He sent them out into the surrounding towns and villages. They did the same work that Jesus did, preaching the gospel, healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, casting out devils. Freely they had received, freely they were to give.

They went out two-by-two. Friends worked together, and brothers worked together. In this way they helped and encouraged each other. Later on, Jesus sent out seventy lay disciples in the same way. In Luke 10:1-17, Jesus speaks to all ages and to all times, telling the church in what spirit she should undertake and carry out all her missionary enterprises.

Every Christian is to be a worker for God, laboring as Christ and the disciples did, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the suffering and afflicted, bringing hope to the discouraged, showing the ministry of love to the despairing, despondent ones. If Christians would work in this way, the whole world would be illuminated with the glory of God. Stop and ask yourself the question: What am I doing to help others?

JESUS REBUKES BIGOTRY
A question John asked should interest every worker for Christ in this age of many denominations and sects. Approaching Christ, he said:

" 'Master,' said John, 'we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.' 'Do not stop him,' Jesus said, 'for whoever is not against you is for you' " (Luke 9:49, 50; see also Mark 9:38-42).

Here this zealous disciple is telling Christ about an experience he had in openly opposing the work of an unnamed teacher who was casting out devils in Christ's name. This bigoted spirit did not please the Savior, and he explained that if some individual or group should be carrying on work in His name, they could not "say anything bad about me" (Mark 9:39). That is, they would respect Jesus, for they were following Him according to the best light they had.

No better lesson in goodwill was ever taught. God has loyal ministers and people in all the churches of Christendom. And remember, there are many honest hearted people who do not go to any church. There are many people of good moral character who are not Christians at all. And millions of non-Christians worship God according to the best light they have (see Romans 2:14-16). The prayer of every true heart should be: "Lord, reveal Your truth to me from Your Word and give me grace to walk in all its light" (see 1 John 1:7). Then we will find salvation.

God has His true church, and we should seek until we find it. But let us not judge those whose ideas and opinions on religious matters differ from our own. Christ is the Master Teacher and the only Savior. Let us go to Him and to His Word for instruction. Never should we condemn those who are sincerely serving the Master to the best of their ability.

CHRIST'S COMMISSION TO HIS CHURCH
Just before Christ's ascension to heaven, standing as it were with only a step between this earth and the eternal world, He gave the following command to His followers:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).

Mark states Christ's commission as follows:

"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" (Mark 16:15).

Christ was the unwearied servant of our necessities, and His followers are to follow His example. They are to go "into all the world" with the gospel of love. "All nations" are to receive the message of His abundant grace. No race, however humble or exalted, is to be overlooked. Christ died for all mankind, and He intends that every person everywhere shall receive the witness of the gospel (see Matthew 24:14).

The disciples understood that the Christian message was for the whole world. The light of heaven was to shine in bright, healing rays upon all people, high and low, rich and poor, free and bond. To "the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8) the followers of Jesus were to go making Christians of all nations. As one writer has said:

"Christ tears away the wall of partition, the dividing prejudice of nationality, and teaches a love for all the human family. He lifts men from the narrow circle which their selfishness prescribes; He abolishes all territorial lines and artificial distinctions of society. He makes no difference between neighbors and strangers, friends and enemies. He teaches us to look upon every needy soul as our brother, and the world as our field" (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 823).

Why not ask God to show you how you can do your part in bringing the Savior to those who do not know His pardoning love and mercy? To every Christian, God has given us "the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18; see also verses 17-21). Are you doing all you can to save souls for God's kingdom? Are you following Jesus' example as a servant of your fellow men?

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Original manuscript author: Beatrice S. Neall
Editors revised edition: Barbara Shelley, Sue Robinson
Design and Layout: DEC Designs, Morisset, New South Wales Australia.
Used by permission of Discovery Centre, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia.
Graphics: Still images taken from Matthew video, copyright © 1997, 2004 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Scripture: Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
Cover Picture: "The Light of the World" by Nathan Green, ©2004 All Rights Reserved.
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Copyright © 2007 revised edition, Voice of Prophecy, California.