Servants and Slaves – Matthew 20

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servant“Not so shall it be among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever desires to be first among you must be your slave…”– Matt 20:26-27 AMP

This statement from Jesus comes on the heels of some bickering and contention between the disciples after the mother of James/John (Sons of Zebedee) requests her sons be given a seat of honor next to Jesus. Jesus informs her that it is not His decision to make… and the other 10 disciples react against the two brothers with indignation (vs 24).

At this reaction, Jesus takes the opportunity to speak into the lives of His disciples. It is clear that Satan is attempting to disrupt the mission by sowing discord among the disciples. So Jesus draws up a picture of the true posture of a disciple – one of a servant and a slave.

A servant is a diakonos“one who executes the commands of another” – such as:

  • A servant of kings (Matt 22:13)
  • A servant at feasts (John 2:5;9)
  • An officer in civil government (Rom 13:4)
  • Those who serve in church (Matt 23:11; Mark 9:35; Rom 16:1)
  • Deacons/Elders in church (Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:10-13; Acts 6:1-7)
  • Used to describe Jesus (Rom 15:8; Gal 2:17; Matt 4:23-24; 9:35; Acts 10:38)
  • Used to describe Pastors (Matt 20:26; Mark 10:43)
  • Also describes servants of Satan as a counterfeit to true servants of God (2 Cor 11:15)

A slave is a doulos “one giving himself wholly to anothers will” – such as:

  • Bondslaves (Gal 3:28; Eph 6:8; Col 3:11)
  • Servants to kings (Matt 18:23-26; 23:1-14)
  • Civil Officers (John 18:18)
  • Sinners who serve sin (John 8:34; Rom 6:16-22; 2 Pet 2:19)
  • All disciples of Christ (Matt 10:24-25; Rom 6:16-22; Rev 19:5)
  • Christ, the servant of God (Phil 2:7; Isa 42:1)
  • Moses and the prophets (Heb 3:5; Rev 10:7)

Both of these categories of servants/slaves were listed in the bottom tier of society. They had no rights of their own (apart from those given them by their owners). They represent individuals who (both voluntarily and involuntarily) have offered their lives to the service of another. The owner was responsible for the servants’ well-being, provision, upkeep, protection, etc.

Jesus modeled this type of life Himself.

When we hear the invitation of salvation from Jesus – we hear a call into a brand new type of life. By accepting that call we take on the new name of “Christian”, and become a servant/slave to God. This means we give up our rights – our demands – our insistence toward our own way. This means we adopt the lifestyle of the one who purchased us (Jesus) – looking to Him alone for our sustenance, provision, protection, etc.

True Christianity involves becoming a disciple of Jesus – a servant/slave. It isn’t a suggestion from Jesus – it is a command. It includes pastors, politicians, truck drivers, electricians, house wives, lawyers – everyone.

  • There is no such thing as a Christian who does not serve.
  • There is no such thing as a Christian who looks to their own needs before those of others.
  • There is no such thing as a Christian who simply attends a church.
  • There is no such thing as a Christian who comes late and leaves early.
  • There is no such thing as a Christian who has no relationship with other Christians.
  • There is no such thing as a Christian who does not serve.

So… are you a servant and a slave?

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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Why did Jesus teach in parables?

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Why in parablesIn the Gospel of Matthew, as well as the others, we are introduced to a very Jewish style of teaching made famous by Jesus, that of the parable. Creating stories using everyday situations, Jesus would teach deep topics in a culturally relevant way so that everyone would have an opportunity to learn and understand.

So what is a parable?

In Stories of Intent, Klyne Snodgrass nicely defines them as “a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought” (p. 7). It was never Jesus goal to think for people, but rather to force people to look beneath the surface for the Truth. As He many times said, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear…”, and that is still His goal today.

The parables achieve many goals, some of which are:

  • They illustrate truth and make it clear by comparison with something that is already familiar.
  • They impart instructions and rebuke without causing offense.
  • They create interest and hunger for more information.
  • The stories are always true (and some even happened)!
  • Their words and details should be interpreted both literally and spiritually.
  • The similarity between the point illustrated and the illustration itself should always be noted.

Quite early in Christianity (about 100 years in) – the Church started making a habit of over-allegorizing the parables. Classic theologians like Origin can almost be seen performing literary acrobatics in their attempts to formulate some deep spiritual meaning out of an otherwise very practical story.

So why did Jesus insist on teaching this way? Why not simply say what He meant in a direct manner so that everyone listening could understand?

  • By using parables, Jesus was able to reveal truth in more interesting ways that would cause the story to be repeated (even until this day!). (Matt 13:10-11, 16)
  • By using parables, Jesus was able to engage those listening to him. (Matt 13:11-12, 16-17)
  • By using parables, Jesus was able to convey mysteries by comparing them with things they already understood. (Matt 13:11)
  • By using parables, Jesus was able to conceal truth from disinterested hearers and rebels at heart. (Truth isn’t cheap!) (Matt 13:11-15)
  • By using parables, Jesus was able to offer truth to those who really were hungry and wanted more of it. (Matt 13:12)
  • By using parables, Jesus was able to take truth away from those who did not want to work for it. (Matt 13:12)
  • Jesus used parable in order to fulfill prophecy (Matt 13:14-17)

As you read through the Gospels and the teachings of Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the deeper things Jesus was teaching. Avoid making them more complicated, but look for the basic truth and allow the Holy Spirit to build off of that.

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Matthew 6 – Don’t Worry

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Don't Worry Be HappyJesus comes in the flesh as an itinerant rabbi – traveling throughout the region of Judea/Palestine declaring that the kingdom of God has arrived. This kingdom is not a place where one goes after they die – but is a way of life in the here and now. Jesus demonstrates what a life lived under the rule and reign of God looks like. It is a victorious life of faith. Matthew, the first perspective of this message from Jesus, is written to the Jewish people who had been waiting anxiously for the one promised by the prophets. According to Matthew, Jesus was that one they had been looking for. After validating this by listing how Jesus fits into the lineage of King David, Matthew then shares various teachings of Jesus through a Jewish lens.

Beginning in chapter 5, there is a section of teachings entitled the “Sermon on the Mount” (because they are given on the side of a mountain). Dealing with various practical, every day issues, Jesus reveals how an individual who is in alignment with God will go about their normal life. One of those teachings, near the end of chapter 6, deals with a major source of stress even for us today, that is worrying. We all battle this inclination to worry and stress about our provision, our future and our decisions. In fact – it is tempting to claim this as a normal part of being human. But that is not how Jesus sees it…

 

“Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life.  And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence (excellence, dignity, and grace) was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all. But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.”– Matthew 6:25-34 AMP

 

Jesus teaches that people who are living under the rule and reign of God (in His kingdom), should not worry, be fretful, or over-anxious about their lives.

Reasons to not worry:

  • Life is more than what you eat (v 25)
  • Your body is more than what you wear (v 25)
  • Men are greater than material goods (v 25)
  • Men are worth more than birds – whom God takes care of without their worry (v 26)
  • Worrying cannot change your body (v27)
  • Men are worth more than the plants – who don’t worry (v 28-30)
  • God takes care of all creation, not just the birds and plants (v 26-32)
  • Worry is useless and sinful and most not be tolerated (v 33-34)

We (as God’s people) should work overtime to quit worrying. It isn’t noble nor is it healthy.

What worry really is:

  • Sinful and produces fear
  • A disease causing other ills
  • Borrowing trouble that cannot be paid back
  • Brooding over what may not happen
  • Creating trouble, misery, death
  • A burden borrowed from tomorrow and others who should carry it
  • Weight that kills prematurely
  • Mental and physical suicide
  • A grave-digger that has no sympathy
  • Needless and wasted time and effort that should be spent on worthwhile things
  • A robber of faith, peace, and trust in a never-failing, heavenly Father
  • A stumbling block to others
  • A disgrace to God and should never be indulged in by Christians
  • Anxiety over what is nothing today and less tomorrow, in view of faith
  • Anticipating troubles which seldom come to those who trust God
  • Torment over something that will likely be a blessing if it comes
  • Living like an orphan without a heavenly Father
  • A crime against God, man, nature, and better judgment
  • Mental cruelty to self and others
  • Foolish, for whatever is going to happen cannot be stopped by worry; and if it doesn’t happen, there is nothing to worry about. Should adversities actually come, one may still be victorious by trusting God.

Don’t worry – be happy!

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK