A Real Servant
Matthew tells us in his Gospel of James and John approaching Jesus and asking if, when His Kingdom was established, they might have the positions of honour at His right and His left. The other disciples were indignant, probably because the "Sons of Thunder" had got there first, and so Jesus called all His disciples to Him. "Listen," He said, "you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant."
It has been said that Jesus came to start the "upside down Kingdom", where greatness is found at the bottom, not at the top. This is something that runs contrary to everything we have ever been taught or have experienced. From childhood we are told to strive to be the best that we can be, to get to the top. Jesus says we are to strive to get to the bottom.
Probably the greatest example of service is found in Jesus who, being in His very nature God (He was the One who made the whole universe), did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Instead, He made Himself nothing and took the form of a servant, and on the night He was to be betrayed, we see His servant-heart in action. The disciples were still vying for position and, as no-one had fetched any water for them to wash their feet, Jesus took off His outer garment, fetched the water, and one by one He washed their feet. The One they had declared to be "The Messiah, the Son of the Living God", washed their feet: a task so degrading a Jew could not command his slave to do it….and Jesus washed Judas feet as well.
Years ago I heard a story of a Bishop paying an unexpected visit to see an old friend who was also a College Principal. Unfortunately, when the Principal's secretary tried to find him she was unable: he wasn't in his office and he wasn't down on the timetable to take any lectures. The man was nowhere to be found. The secretary phoned the man's wife to see if she knew where he was and, as they lived on the College Campus, she assured her that he should be around somewhere. Eventually the Principal was found wearing rubber gloves, up to his elbows trying to unblock a toilet. When he was asked why, he simply said "because it needed doing, and he knew the maintenance man was busy doing something else." That man had a servant heart.
I will probably never forget my first Curacy with Canon Peter Tong, who served on the Bishop's Advisory Council, General Synod, five different boards of school governors, to name but a few of the posts he held. He was a really important man, and yet every time he went into his church he picked up any litter he could find. I have seen many Christians dropping litter, but only one man ever stop to pick it up. Peter had a real servant heart. Have you?