“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
– Philippians 2:6-7
Jesus is the role model of the suffering servant.
Jesus not only gave up His divine privileges when He emptied Himself, but He also became a servant. For us, this is the next phase in His supreme example of humility. Paul’s phrase “the form of a bond-servant” can also be translated “the essence of a slave.” Christ’s servanthood was not just external—it extended to the essential, down-to-earth role of a bond-slave doing the will of His Father.
We would expect Jesus, the God-man, to be a servant only in the truest fashion. His servitude was not performed like a stage player putting on and taking off the costume of a servant. Jesus truly became a servant. He perfectly fulfilled everything Isaiah predicted about Him (52:13-14). Jesus was the Messiah who was a suffering servant.
Christ’s entire earthly ministry is the yardstick by which we can measure servanthood. As God, He owned everything; as the servant, He had to borrow everything: a place to be born, a boat in which to cross the Sea of Galilee and preach from, a donkey (itself a symbol of humility and servitude) to ride into Jerusalem for His triumphal entry, a room to celebrate His final Passover in, and a grave to be buried in.
Our Savior acknowledged His role as a servant very simply: “I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). And it was all done with love, with consistency, with humility, without the pretense of outward form.
As we continue to look to our Lord Jesus as the role model of humility, the challenge for us is to follow His attitude and practice. Paul instructs those who would be servants of Christ, “Let love be without hypocrisy. . . . Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:9-11).
Suggestions for Prayer:
Thank and praise the Lord that Jesus was such a humble but willing servant on your behalf.
For Further Study:
Isaiah 52:13—53:12 is known as the Suffering Servant passage. As you read it, write down the various ways it describes Jesus’ suffering. How is His humility in evidence?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.