Posted: 12/14/18 at 2:00pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
It is always interesting when our lives are interrupted by the reality of death. We don’t like to be reminded that this physical life is an interlude, a time when we are to prepare for our permanent dwelling which awaits us after death.
This week, in the midst of our preparation for the birth of Jesus, the reality of death has been abruptly brought before us in the death, or the home-going, of former President George H. W. Bush.
Accolades have been numerous and from all political stripes. It is evident that he was an amazing guy and is being remembered as a man of kindness and service. It has been said that the measure of our lives is seen in how people react to our deaths.
Jesus taught us about what matters in life, in Matthew 20:25–28 (NLT): “But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Most people in our world strive to get authority and then flaunt the power it brings. Followers of Jesus are not to strive to rule over others but rather to serve others. Jesus’ whole life was a depiction of his words in the verses above.
He came as the King of kings. King Herod, who was a man of power, was threatened the moment he learned that the wise men who had come to Jerusalem to find and worship “He who has been born, King of the Jews.” He assumed that the newborn king would be like himself, ruthless in gaining and keeping power. But Jesus did not come to force others to serve him, but instead he came to serve others and lay down his life as a ransom fee to free us from our sins.
From the time Jesus first left heaven to become flesh and dwell among us, he was a demonstration of humility (read Philippians 2:5-11). When God chose to come be among us, he came through the normal birthing process with all the vulnerability that entails.
He endured many of the cruel things that humans can do to each other. I am sure He was teased and that the other kids whispered behind his back in his early years. The King of the universe came clothed in humility. He was born to a poor family, not in a mansion; he was raised to be a laboring carpenter, not a CEO. He came to save the lives and eternal destinies of ungrateful leaders who saw him as a threat to their positions and power.
After the ministry of Jesus began, thousands of everyday people saw him as God’s messenger and Messiah. He had extraordinary powers to work miracles, and yet he did not abuse his power. He taught profound truth.
In the end (or in the new beginning), the leaders of the Jews, with the assistance of the Romans, crucified Jesus. Jesus was an amazing, amazing person! He had it all in heaven but gave it all up to serve and to save us.
Today Herod and Pilate have faded into the dustbin of history, while Jesus lives and reigns as the King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus said that whoever wishes to become great must become a servant. It is not fame, position, wealth, or power that makes us great, but rather it is treating others as better than ourselves—serving others without a need for acclaim.
The life and teachings of Jesus run contrary to our natural drives to make ourselves great. Ironically, it is only when we daily make ourselves servants of others that they will one day stand at our funerals and say: “You were a really great person.”
Jesus came humbly, lived well and humbly, and died a royal death as he humbly submitted to pay the penalty for your sins and mine, so that we could have a great life of service and live an eternity with God.
What are the aspirations of your life? To dominate and rule? Or to show kindness and serve?