And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” (Genesis 26:24)
Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:31)
“Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? (2 Samuel 7:5)
Then the Lord said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush (Isaiah 20:3)
Isaiah was one of a select band of chosen and set apart prophets that God called “his servants”
From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. (Jeremiah 7:25)
Being a servant of God was a great privilege and an awesome responsibility. It wasn’t a ‘part-time’ job, but one that demanded single-hearted devotion. Even though they are plainly named as God’s servants, they were still only a shadow of God’s one true servant who was to come – Jesus, who would clearly and perfectly show what true servant humility was all about.
The book of Isaiah lays out quite clearly the role of God’s servant and speaks of his special and treasured status;
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)
Looking back, after the cross, we can see how accurately Isaiah described the life and death of Jesus and His ultimate sacrificial service, especially as recorded in Isaiah 53.
Jesus himself describes himself as a servant.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
He also demonstrated His servant hood through His actions. One of the clearest examples was in John 13 when He washed his disciple’s feet.
The apostle Paul also clearly describes Jesus as a servant. One of my favourite passages in the whole bible is in Philippians;
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:6-7)
As we focus on this particular characteristic of Jesus, it is important to recognise that being a servant doesn’t stop Him being God at the same time, as some Muslims have tried to argue. The mystery of the trinity will always, with our limited minds, be difficult to fathom, but it is important to let scripture illuminate what God has chosen to reveal. Jesus’ character is multi-faceted and we mustn’t just look at one aspect at the expense of the others. As a servant, Jesus has lost none of His divinity, but chose to willingly submit to the father’s will. That is not weakness but strength.
Jesus has set a wonderful example for us to replicate. How much more like Him will we become when we take on His attitude of serving others.