JESUS, THE SERVANT
(a series on the example of Jesus as servant)
How to Use This Series
This series seeks to guide our cell groups to discuss how we may be effective servants of the Gospel. This four-lesson series is centered on Jesus Christ, who is the prime example and model of a life of service to others. By looking at His life, we gain greater appreciation of who He is and how He lived, and learn principles through which our lives may be guided as we seek to be more like Him.
Each lesson will have an introduction, points to talk about, and suggested questions for discussions. In each point in the lesson, the leader can choose from among the provided questions what to ask to the group for discussion. Because the Word section is geared toward being finished in 45 minutes, I suggest that only one question per point is dealt with. But of course, if there is enough time, the leader has the prerogative to ask more questions for discussion.
The monthly attendance sheet at the end will help the leaders monitor their small group/s. This will also help the leaders keep track of who are in need of encouragement and prayer.
This series is written by Jocie Celmar © 2015.
Servant before Birth
Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-5; 52:13-53:12
At the end of the lesson, members should have realized the special calling of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to be servant of the world even before He was born on earth.
Long before Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, there were prophesies about his coming already. Interestingly, not all the descriptions of his coming glory are very nice. In fact, in terms of his coming as a servant, the prophet Isaiah was very clear that Jesus was going to serve in humiliating, self-abasing, and even painful ways. We may not be called in the suffering that Jesus Christ experienced in order to serve others, but it is a possibility that we are called by God to serve even before we were born in this world (Jer 1:5). Could this be what Paul said to the Christians in Ephesus that they have been “created to do good works” (Eph 2:10)?
- Born to Serve (Isa 49:1-5)Jesus was born into the world to be a servant. The prophecies of Isaiah indicated that God had destined Jesus Christ to be the Suffering Servant. The road that He would take is a road to servanthood. Paul even wrote that even though He is God, He “took the form of a servant” (Phil 2:6). Although He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, He is also called to be a servant. The idea that some people are destined by God precisely to serve is a mind-blowing thought.
- What does it mean to be created to do good works? (Eph 2:10)
- What possible servant role do you think are you called to accomplish?
- Qualifications to Serve (Isa 53:2-3)Jesus the servant seems to not have the expectations the world expects from leaders. When one reads the enumerated characteristics and acts in Isaiah about the coming Messiah, one could even sense disappointment at how God appointed Him to serve. Once again, God makes the wisdom of the world foolish (1 Cor 1:25; 3:19). When He reveals the criteria of greatness in service, He does not follow our human notions of hierarchy, superiority, and even influence. He has His own criteria of how He, God Himself in Jesus Christ, would and should serve.What are the common qualifications expected from a good servant? How does the Scripture describe the coming Servant of all servants?
- The Suffering of Serving (Isa 53:4-10)According to the prophecy of Isaiah, Jesus was to serve in suffering. This is not really an encouraging projection, and the realization that serving is rewarded by suffering is quite a good demotivation. But when we think carefully about serving, it seems that suffering and sacrifice are unavoidable. Jesus laid the example of accepting both the good and the bad in serving others. Even when we are unappreciated in our service or are even slighted, we must look back at Jesus Christ, our greatest model.
- How is the life of the servant portrayed in the prophecy about the suffering servant?
- What suffering do you anticipate if you serve other people?
- The Glory of Serving (Isa 53:11-12)
- Suffering is only one part of the equation in serving. The other side of the coin is the sense of fulfilment for having been able to help others. Also, it is a source of joy to realize that we have pleased our Father in heaven when we serve (Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11). Moreover, part of the calling to serve is to be rewarded by our Father in heaven (Col 3:24; Heb 6:10). Even though we face ridicule and suffering on earth, our labors are not in vain and the Lord who sees what we do shall someday tell us, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21, 23).
- According to Isaiah 53:11-12, how will Jesus be glorified? What rewards await us as servants of God?
Based on your current skills and gifts, what do you think is God’s calling for you to serve? What challenges do we face so that we can be like Jesus Christ in his service to others?
In preparation for next week’s meeting, read Matthew 20:20- 28.
Servant in Life
At the end of the lesson, members should have learned the example of Jesus Christ as he served others throughout his ministry.
Service is a lifestyle. We cannot congratulate ourselves or tap our backs with smiles on our faces for having done just one act of service for the whole week. Jesus lived His life being a servant to others: to the sick, to His own disciples, to sinners, to the condemned, and to the suffering. Wherever He went, He was ready to serve. And in the story of the washing of the feet of the disciples, He was ready to serve even if it meant acting like a Roman slave (John 13:1-15). In this lesson, we are going to look at how Jesus served in His life.
- Obedient Servant (John 4:34; 5:30; 14:31; 15:10; Heb 10:5-7; Ps 40:6-8)Jesus served in accordance with the Father’s will and purposes (John 12:49). No one can be a true servant without being obedient to God and sensitive to His will. We are not servants in accordance with our own inventions and creativity. We serve because we know the will of God us and for those we meet in our lives, whether we are in our homes, riding the bus, or on the streets. We serve because we know God’s commands and we obey them with all our hearts. Just as Jesus obeyed, we too are expected to do the same (John 14:31).
- What is the relationship between service and obedience?
- What is the relationship between service and being sent? (John 3:17)
- Humble Servant (Luke 22:27; Matt 11:29)Jesus served as a lowly servant, humbling himself even among the most common people. He was not intimidated by the powerful and influential, but He also did not try to serve in accordance to their standards. Unlike his contemporary religious leaders, He did not wear fancy robes when he served. He identified with the people, with sinners and the poor (Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31-32). He stooped down to their level of understanding and knelt in front of them, if kneeling is how He can properly serve them.
- Are there other examples of Jesus’ humble service apart from John 13:1-17? Why is humility an important part of serving others?
- Ministering Servant (John 13:1-17)Jesus’ servanthood is manifested in attending to other people’s needs. This teaches us that serving is not a mental or intellectual exercise. Real service to people happens not when we are imaging how we can serve them, but when we are actually with them in their homes, or on the streets. Having the intention to serve is not enough. Those intentions must be translated to action. Like Jesus, who looked for people to serve, we must also be more aggressive in serving. We do not wait for the needy to come to us. We must be intentional in looking for them.
- How did Jesus serve his disciples? (John 13:1-17; 17:6-19)
- How did Jesus serve other people? How is our ministry in the church and outside serve God and others?
What ministries and acts of service are we involved in right now that require obedience to God’s will and humility? How can we be intentional everyday so that we are always looking for people to serve?
In preparation for next week’s meeting, read Mark 10:35-45.
Servant through Death
At the end of the lesson, members should have understood the cost of serving God and others.
Jesus did not only serve while He was alive. Even His death on the cross is His act of service to humanity. This portrays that the whole life of Jesus, from beginning to end, was characterized by serving others. We can easily understand the idea of serving through death, as there are many people, especially those in the police and military services that exemplify this. Just recently, in January 2015, the forty-four soldiers who died in Mindanao serving their country is a good example.
- Willingness to Suffer (Isa 53:7; Mark 15:16-20)It is easy to serve in our comfort zones. It is easy to serve when what we do is within our areas of interest. Nobody wants to experience pain and suffering. We have medicines precisely to null pain. Jesus knew from the very beginning that He would suffer and die (Matt 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-38; Luke 18:31-33), but He pressed on to go to Jerusalem where He would receive His death sentence (Luke 17:11). We see in Jesus the tenacity to serve, even it meant physical, emotional, and social suffering (Matt 27:27-31). He endured everything for the sake of those He loved.
- Is it possible to serve without experiencing suffering?
- What possible sufferings (social, emotional, physical) can God’s servants experience today?
- Willingness to Die (Mark 10:45)Jesus served humanity even if it meant dying a shameful criminal’s death on the cross (Luke 23:32; Acts 17:11; Heb 12:2). He literally gave His life for the sake of others (Matt 20:28), so that our sins might be forgiven (Acts 13:38). But Jesus did not die only for His friends. In fact, the astonishing fact is that Jesus died precisely for those who crucified Him (John 15:13; Rom 5:7- 8). This is what made His love perfect: He loved even the unrighteous (Matt 5:43-48).
- How was Jesus able to willingly embrace death for the sake of others? What can be the best motivation today for people to serve even to the point of death?
- Sacrificial Death (Matt 19:21-22)Although persecution that leads to death is not experienced in the Philippines, we can still experience “death” in different ways. For those who have familial responsibilities, serving full- time might mean scorn from relatives and misunderstanding from family members. For those who are in positions of power, it might mean social suicide. For those who are either rich or poor, serving might mean financial doom. Whatever it is, serving entails the willingness to die in one form or another.
- Jesus died precisely because He was serving humanity. In our call to serve, how should be understand the related call to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matt 16:24)?
Every act of serving entails a form of sacrifice. It may not be physical death, although this is a possibility in many countries. The crucial questions for all of us are: What sacrifices are we willing to do in order to serve God and others? What sacrifices are we not willing to do (or are difficult to do) in order to serve God and others?
In preparation for next week’s lesson, read Romans 8:28-34.
Servant in Ascension
At the end of the lesson, members should be able to realize that we can serve others even without being physically with them.
Today, when major corporations and business people extend some sort of service to others, they are usually followed by cameramen. This kind of service can easily make others doubt their motives and altruism. It is very hard to find people today who do not let others know the good they are doing (Matt 6:3- 4). With social media, even Christians are tempted to post everything they do and accomplish. It would be nice if they only post, but when they add captions to their photos with judgmental overtones against others who they assume are not doing what they are doing, then their sins multiply.
- Serving in Absence (John 14:1-1-3; 16:7)As recorded in Acts 1:6-11, Jesus ascended into the right hand of the Father. So does this mean that Jesus’ service ended? Did He resign from servanthood? The writer of the book of Hebrews says that Jesus is actively serving humanity even today. How? He is interceding for us (Heb 7:25). Even in His physical absence from us, He still cares (1 Pet 5:7). This is the astonishing love of Christ for humanity. We have a Savior who serves relentlessly. He finds ways to serve wherever He is.
- How does Jesus serve us today, as found in John 14:10-3?
- How is it that the absence of Jesus on earth actually helps us? (John 16:7)
- How can we serve today even if we are not with people?
- Serving in Prayer (Rom 8:34)Like the writer of Hebrews, Paul wrote that Jesus Christ “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Rom 8:34). Jesus shows us that we can serve others wherever we are by remembering them in prayer (James 5:16). In fact, praying for others is a good way to serve others silently. Just remembering them and lifting them up to the Lord, and making petitions on their behalf is already a good exercise. This way, we are also taught that prayer is not only about the self and God. We must allow the Holy Spirit to help us discern what to pray for others (Rom 8:26).
- How is praying for others an act of service?
- Why is it important to follow Jesus’ example of interceding for others?
- Serving Behind the Curtains (Luke 8:1-3)Like Jesus who serves while hidden from our eyes, we too can serve behind the curtains. People do not need to know the good works we do or the amount of donation we give. We do not need to be under the spotlight or to be followed by cameras when we serve. In fact, most of the services we must do are not really big. Rather, our daily lives are characterized by the calling to serve in the littlest ways, such as washing the dishes, picking up trash thrown by others, smiling at a stranger, etc. Also, we can be called to be a member of the support team, not to be at the frontline, and this is absolutely fine.
- What can we learn from the examples of the women disciples in Luke 8:1-3; 23:55-56?
- Why do Christians prefer to have gifts that can put them under the spotlight?
- What services can we do behind the curtains?
Like Jesus who served both at the frontline and behind the curtains, what ministry involvement and service to others can we do today that puts us at the frontline? What can we do today that are not seen by others?