Coming As A Servant

In the previous chapter, we touched on the principle of Jesus as a humble servant. In this section, we further explore how it is that God could come to us as our servant and be willing to lay down His life for each one of us. Here Isaiah describes the Messiah as gentle, patient, and the fact that He will not fail to complete the work the Father has given Him to do.

Isaiah 42:1 “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.”

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 12:14-21 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him. But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory; And in His name Gentiles will trust.”

John 17:1,4 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father… I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do…”

He Made Himself of No Reputation

The certainty that Isaiah’s prophecy is applicable to Jesus as the Messiah, is confirmed by the words of Matthew in chapter 12:14-21. Here the Apostle confirms this fact by stating that what Jesus was doing at that specific moment—was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 42:1.

Isaiah begins his description of the Messiah as The Servant of the Lord. Starting at Chapter 42, the prophet describes the various acts of the coming Messiah as one who comes to do the will of God. Many scholars have labeled these prophecies as the Servant Songs, with verse 1 of Isaiah 42 being the first of four such songs.

The Messiah as God’s servant will also be God Himself. In order to fully present Himself as a servant to the Father, the Messiah will set aside some of His glory, power, and rights as God. This is vividly described in the text of Philippians Chapter 2:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8

Although Jesus is God and not subordinate to the Father, He willingly assumed the rank of a servant for our benefit. We see evidence of Jesus total surrender to the will of God in several statements that He makes concerning His relationship with God and purpose for coming to the world.

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. John 5:30

The text from John chapter 17, where Jesus is praying to the Father, is of particular interest—regarding His submission to Him for our benefit.

And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. John 17:5-8

In these four verses we see that Jesus is in submission to the Father. He has “given the words which the Father has given Him and they have received them…” The results are that “they have believed that You sent Me.”

This is truly an incredible conversation that we are privileged to participate in. We are overhearing a discussion by the Son, who created the universe, with His Father. We understand by what Jesus has said that His coming to earth was something that had been planned by God—before anything else existed (read chapter 17 of John). We see that Jesus had offered His life for us as the single method that God had approved—whereby any person who was willing, could be saved.

It is important to understand that when Jesus came to earth in the form of a man, He did not cease to be God.

There are certain instances where we observe Jesus refusing to retain some of His rights as God. When Jesus came to earth on this first occasion as the Messiah, He did so in complete submission to the Father. He allowed the Jews to condemn Him unjustly for crimes He did not commit. He permitted the soldiers to arrest Him at the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus stood silent before Pilate, refusing to defend Himself. He willingly submitted His life, by dying on the cross. Jesus took the complete wrath of God for all sins, by His full consent.

When describing His return to earth at the Rapture, Jesus declared that He did not know the timing of this event. Yet it is clear that as God, Jesus knows all things. Jesus would not know the day or hour of His return for His church until after He had been resurrected from the dead and glorified once again.

Mark 13:32 (Jesus describing His return) But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

This has been a source of great confusion for some people. Not understanding the purpose of Jesus first appearance here on earth, some have assumed that Jesus is not God, since He did not know the time of His return. By referring to the Father as greater than I, this adds to the assumption that Jesus is only a man, who is seeking to be a servant to God.[1]

Isaiah 42:1, makes it clear that the Messiah will make Himself a servant to God in order to secure the salvation of all people. At the conclusion of His sacrifice for our sins, Jesus once again assumed all of His former rights as God.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name… Philippians 2:9-11

We should understand that when Jesus was here on earth as the Messiah and a Servant to God, He did not cease to be God. This would not be possible. Jesus has always been God, and always will be God. Jesus voluntarily humbled Himself to set aside some of His rights in order to fulfill the prophecies of the Messiah, who would come as a servant of God for the salvation of all mankind. According to the church of Latter Day Saints, Jesus was a man, who was exalted to the position of God, because of His obedience. We do not find this to be true when we read the Bible.

Identity Crisis

Problems arise when we fail to distinguish between the facts of the Messiah’s identity, both as God, and as a Servant of God. Those who have not understood this inevitably develop an incorrect theology of Jesus.

Jesus’ personal statements about Himself in the New Testament reveals that He is both God as well as a servant to God. How can this be? As Philippians 2 defines Jesus, He has always been God, and He did not cease to be God when He came to earth in the form of a man. He came to us as God, dwelling in the body of a man as the servant of God, in submission to the will of the Father to make one offering for sin forever.

John 10:24-33 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

The leadership among the Jews wanted to know the true identity of Jesus. They brought their questions to Him and asked: Tell us plainly who you are. It is interesting that Jesus will make a statement confirming His identity as a Servant, then alternately state that He is also God.

From John 10:24-33 above:

Jesus as a servant, Verse 25: The works that I do in My Father’s name

Jesus describes His works as done in His Father’s name. In other words, the things He is doing, He is undertaking as a Servant, representing the Father before us so that we might know what God is like.

Jesus as God, Verse 28: I give them eternal life,

Jesus as the author of eternal life

Jesus as a Servant, Verse 29: My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all

In submission to the Father as “greater” than Himself

Jesus as God, Verse 30: I and My Father are one…

A statement so clear that the Jews become enraged. Finally, at the end of the discussion in verse 33, when Jesus finished His description of Himself, the Jews take up stones to kill Him, stating that they were doing so because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.

Is Jesus God?

A good point of reference to see practically, how Jesus took this position of a servant in submission to the Father, is found in Mark Chapter 13.

Mark 13:32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

One of the attributes of God that demonstrates His identity is the fact that He knows everything. Since Jesus said that He does not know the day or the hour of His return, does this disqualify Him as God?

Paul wrote that although Jesus is God, He willingly set aside some of His rights as God and made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men… (Philippians 2:5-8)

In completing the purpose of His first arrival on earth as our Servant and Savior, as Jesus is raised from the dead, He is given a name that is above every other name. By the complete context of Philippians 2:5-11, we understand that Jesus’ purpose was to be the Servant described by Isaiah in His detailed description of chapter 53. At the conclusion of His sacrifice, when He rose from the dead, He retained all of the rights and privileges that He had formerly set aside, for a brief moment in time.

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Clearly, after Jesus was resurrected from the dead and exalted by the Father for His great work of Salvation, He knew the exact day of His return. The fact that He stated, in Mark 13:32, that He did not know the day or hour of His return is evidence that He fulfilled the requirements of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Servant who came to die for the sins of the world.

The Father—Greater than Jesus

Some critics of Jesus deity insist that because He constantly refers to the Father as greater than He, that this is conclusive proof that Jesus did not claim to be God.

John 14:28 “You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.”

The Greek word used here for greater, is mezion, “someone to be esteemed highly for their importance.”[2] Much in the same way that we might say of another person, in humility; they are more important than us. We are both human beings, but in my estimation of my wife’s worth, I consider her more important than myself.

In no way was Jesus declaring that He was not God, only that He was coming to earth as a servant to the Father to accomplish His will to provide a means whereby all human beings could obtain salvation. This would bring great glory to the Father and put on public display forever, visual proof of God’s great love.

This was the purpose for which Jesus came into the world: to accomplish the will of the Father.

The Power of the Servant

As a servant to the Father, Jesus allows evil men to take Him by force and unjustly condemn Him to death, though He was innocent. All this, so that He could take our place at the judgment of God and pay the price of our salvation. When questioned about His guilt, Jesus offered no defense because He was representing us at the place of judgment. Since all human beings stand guilty before God and there is no valid excuse that we can offer in our defense, Jesus said nothing as He was repeatedly accused.

When the soldiers come to arrest Jesus, He allows these men to take Him, while at the same time, giving a very powerful reminder that He is still God and could take authority over all those who seek to kill Him, at any time. When the soldiers arrive, Jesus asks them who they are seeking. When He tells them, I am He, (I AM) the eternal name of God, the soldiers fall backwards to the ground.[3]

John 18:3-6 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

As Pontius Pilate is questioning Jesus, he threatens Him with death because of His refusal to answer when spoken to. Jesus tells Pilate that the only authority he has over Him has been given to him by the Father.

John 19:10-11 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”

This example of Jesus as a servant is one that all who claim to know Him should follow. We are to lay down our lives for each other and place others above ourselves. We should fully dedicate our lives to God, so that many other people can also come to know Him.

Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The pattern which has been established in many major churches today is disgraceful. Those in positions of authority over the people who attend certain churches, expect to be served and given greater honor. They wear colorful robes and hats which set them apart from the people whom they are supposed to be serving. In reality, those who are in these positions of leadership should humbly serve the people in the same way that Jesus laid down His life for all of us. Perhaps the leaders of the major denominations should take a turn in cleaning the toilets in the restrooms, mop the floors, and pick up trash in the parking lot. If Jesus were walking among us in the church today, these are the jobs that He would choose.

The Messiah came to be a servant and to lay His life down in obedient sacrifice for all of us. May we also follow His example and serve each other with humility, sincerity, and a deep sense of love.

He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. —Philippians 2:8


[1] John 14:28 You have heard Me say to you, “I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.
[2] Strong’s Greek Concordance, #3173
[3] Exodus 3:14, “I AM”