White: A Servant of Servants

“The whole life of Christ had been a life of unselfish service” (Desire of Ages, p. 642). This is the theme of Chapter 71, “A Servant of Servants.” Ellen White makes the following observations about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples:

There was “a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.” This contention, carried on in the presence of Christ, grieved and wounded Him…. They had placed their own estimate upon themselves and upon one another, and, instead of regarding their brethren as more worthy, they had placed themselves first. (pp. 643-644)

How was Christ to bring these poor souls where Satan would not gain over them a decided victory? How could He show that a mere profession of discipleship did not make them disciples, or insure them a place in His kingdom? How could He show that it is loving service, true humility, which constitutes real greatness? How was He to kindle love in their hearts, and enable them to comprehend what He longed to tell them? (p. 644)

So Christ expressed His love for His disciples [by washing their feet]. Their selfish spirit filled Him with sorrow, but He entered into no controversy with them regarding their difficulty. Instead He gave them an example they would never forget. His love for them was not easily disturbed or quenched. He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came from God, and went to God. He had a full consciousness of His divinity; but He had laid aside His royal crown and kingly robes, and had taken the form of a servant. One of the last acts of His life on earth was to gird Himself as a servant, and perform a servant’s part. (pp. 644-645)

The truest humility is to receive with thankful heart any provision made in our behalf, and with earnestness do service for Christ. (p. 646)

That His people might not be misled by the selfishness which dwells in the natural heart, and which strengthens by self-serving, Christ Himself set the example of humility. He would not leave this great subject in man’s charge. Of so much consequence did He regard it, that He Himself, One equal with God, acted as servant to His disciples. (p. 649)

Jesus was given to stand at the head of humanity, that by His example He might teach what it means to minister. His whole life was under a law of service. He served all, ministered to all. Thus He lived the law of God, and by His example showed how we are to obey it. (p. 649)

Jesus, the served of all, came to be the servant of all. And because He ministered to all, He will again be served and honored by all. And those who would partake of His divine attributes, and share with Him the joy of seeing souls redeemed, must follow His example of unselfish ministry. (p. 651)

Reflection questions

  1. Why does it seem easy to be “humble” when we are praised, but so hard when we are derided or humiliated? (e.g., “I’m so humbled to receive this award. I couldn’t have done it without…”)
  2. After 3 1/2 years with Jesus, the disciples were still blind to the way of Jesus–the humble servant. How open are my own eyes to this way today?
  3. What in these quotes brings “self-esteem” and “humble service” into the same circle of experience?
  4. Who are people that I find easy to serve? Why this group?
  5. Who do I resist serving? Why?
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