The Power of Service
Gracious Lord, beneath Your rule I live my life, and within Your grace I stand. With all that is within me, I bless Your name.
Consider: "Jesus would demonstrate the quiet, strong serenity of one who seeks to conquer by love" (William Barclay, 1907-1978). This is the servant heart we need to have.
Matthew links two incidents to show how Jesus threatened the inconsistent attitudes of the religious leaders through his being and his actions. In the first scene the Pharisees were quick to point out the perceived misdemeanor of Jesus' hungry disciples, who picked and ate corn on the Sabbath. Jesus strongly defended them, using the examples of David and his men eating consecrated bread, priests working on the Sabbath, mercy being more important than sacrifice, and the Son of Man being Lord of the Sabbath. The second incident was in the synagogue, when Jesus' opponents used a man with a disabled hand to try to trap Jesus. He showed that if they could rescue a suffering animal on the Sabbath they should also do good to a disabled man. His opponents left and began to plot his death. They heard his claim of being greater than the Temple and all their man-made laws, but they were blind to the truth.
How often we as Christians can apply our man-made rules and, in doing so, are blind to God working in the lives of others, especially those who are different! There is a danger we will not recognize God when we encounter his working, or, worse still, we will oppose what he is doing.
Jesus, aware of the plot to kill him (14), withdrew from the area, but the crowds still followed him, and the healings continued (15). He did not want the common messianic expectations to be placed on him, so he ordered the crowds not to make him known. His mission would be vastly different from that of a popular deliverer but rather the fulfillment of Isaiah 42 concerning the Servant of the Lord (17-21; Isa. 42:1-4). He would not make a big noise, but his servant ministry would ultimately lead to the cross, suffering that we might live (Isa. 52:13--53:12).
What new thing are you having difficulty coming to terms with? How will you test if God is in it?
Merciful Lord, I confess there are times when I would rather be served by others than serve them. Sometimes I find it tiring to serve. Help me with this, and create a serving heart within me.
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