|When we consider the Lord Jesus as the serving Savior, we must emphasize that the revealed character of God’s servant is as important as what that servant does. God’s servant represents Him in character and conduct. Mark, more than the other gospel writers, reveals the gentle, kind, humble nature of Jesus while enduring distress, rejection and hardship in His God-given ministry. So the Father’s proclamation to all, “Behold My Servant” (Mt. 12:18), is an invitation to admire the Person as much as His ministry. God’s Servant willingly spends and is spent for others, and will be attacked and rejected while doing so. Though brief in introduction, Mark safeguards against a degraded view of God’s Servant in his opening verse: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Humanly speaking, it is natural to adopt a smug attitude about someone serving you, but Mark ensures that his readers understand that this was willful condescension by the Son of God. For this reason, the Lord never speaks of “My Father” or “Our Father” in Mark; His humble service to man, not His relationship with the Father, is paramount. But to ensure no confusion on the matter, Mark immediately guards against undermining the deity of Christ.|
A Busy Servant
In the King James Version, 12 of Mark’s 16 chapters begin with the word “and,” and the majority of the verses in Mark begin with conjunctions and adverbs such as “and,” “now,” and “then.” For example, 35 of Mark 1’s 45 verses begin with “and.” More specifically, many verses in Mark begin “And Jesus” or “And He.” Mark is careful to present a serving Savior to his readers.
But he doesn’t stop there. For the reader to gain a higher sense of the Lord’s exhausting ministry, he adds more definition to the verbs describing His service by using words such as “forthwith,” and “immediately.” This is accomplished by repeatedly using two Greek adverbs 46 times – eutheos, meaning “directly,” and euthus, meaning “at once.” How many times are these adverbs used in the other Gospels? Nineteen times in Matthew, 10 in Luke, and a mere 7 in John. Keep in mind that Mark has only sixteen chapters compared to Matthew’s 28, Luke’s 24 and John’s 21.
The frequency of usage in Mark is distinctive. Can you imagine the life of the Lord Jesus? Day after day, at any time of day or night, people were coming to Him with their problems, needs and ailments. Those rejecting His message confronted Him continuously. No wonder He fell asleep in the stern of a boat and didn’t wake up when the boat was being tossed about in a violent storm. Add to this His fervent prayer life. Even though His life was marked by physical exhaustion, He still arose early to spend time conversing with His Father. Mark presents not just a loving Savior, but One who poured His life out to serve others.
A Servant Who Sees And Touches
Mark often refers to the Lord as looking at and touching others. In so doing, he presents a Servant who knows the needs of others – the Lord didn’t have tunnel vision to the cross, but wide-scoping discernment of the needs of others around Him. Each passing day brought the Savior nearer to Calvary, but along the way He lived to serve others. The Lord recognized needs, then personally helped.
Mark refers to the Lord’s looking upon others nine times; the other Gospels often omit this aspect of the event. Concerning the Lord’s touching others to show compassion, I find six references in Mark, three in Matthew, two in Luke and none in John. Mark shows that a servant of the Lord wonderfully discerns the needs of others, then quickly works to assist them.
How Did Christ Serve?
Mark provides the perfect character sketch of a godly servant.
The Lord’s service was motivated by love: “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him” (Mk. 1:41). The Lord teaches us that the only true motive for Christian service is love. Biblical love initiates sacrificial giving: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Mark notes the Lord’s self-sacrificing example throughout his gospel (Mk. 3:20; 4:35-36; 4:38; 6:31; 7:34; 8:12). Love is discerning and understands what is best for the one being served. Love, not pity, must be our reason to serve those in need, or we may unknowingly interfere with the chastening hand of God in their lives.
The Lord served others before Himself: “And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread” (Mk. 3:20; 6:31-33). The Lord was so busy serving others, so disposed to mankind, so available to the distressed, that He often had no time to care for Himself. On another occasion, we find the Lord asleep in a boat, during daylight hours and while in the midst of a raging storm (Mk. 4:35-41). Physical exhaustion and emotional fatigue frequented His body, yet we never read of Him complaining.
The Lord served with tenacity. Practically everyone with a problem, and the least bit of faith, was petitioning the Lord for help. “For He had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon Him for to touch Him, as many as had plagues” (Mk. 3:10). The disciples said to Him, “All men seek for Thee” (Mk. 1:37). This statement highlights the immensity of Christ’s ministry. Wouldn’t you want to go to a physician who had a 100% success rate?
The Lord did not seek popularity. What was the Lord’s response when His disciples told Him that “all men seek for Thee”? He replied, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also” (Mk. 1:38). He could have used the opportunity to promote Himself and develop a fan club, but He was more interested in the lives of His followers. In his book, Why Four Gospels?, Arthur Pink wrote: “We like to boast of the crowds that attend our ministry. But the perfect Servant of God never courted popularity; He shunned it! And when His disciples came and told Him, no doubt with pleasurable pride, ‘All men seek for Thee,’ His immediate response was, ‘Let us go.’”
Mark clearly furnishes a progressive attitude of humility by the Lord in response to instant fame. At first, He tolerated the popularity when “His fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee” (Mk. 1:28). But then He shunned it, and finally tried to avoid it altogether: “But Jesus withdrew Himself with His disciples to the sea; and a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea” (Mk. 3:7).
It is evident from Mark’s various healing accounts that the Lord did not desire fame or popularity but rather that He desired to demonstrate that genuine service to others is veiled in secrecy. May each of us learn to follow His meek and lowly example.
The Lord served compassionately. He had His eyes open to the needs of others; He was discerning: “He came out, saw many people, and was moved with compassion toward them” (Mk. 6:34). What do a leper, two blind men, and three disciples have in common? They were all touched by Christ to satisfy a need. The leper was a social outcast and longed to be touched and healed (Mk. 1:40-45). For the blind, every clumsy step ventured into the unknown, but the Lord lifted their darkness and gave their souls security (Mk. 8:22-26; 10:46-52). At the Transfiguration, the fearful disciples were comforted in a time of panic: “And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Mk. 9:2-8; Mt. 17:7-8). Why didn’t the Lord just speak a good word to them? Because He understood that a loving touch could convey what words couldn’t. Let’s not fear to touch those in need, so they too might see no man save Jesus!
The Lord cared about those in need: the possessed, the sick, the blind, the deaf, the mute, the paralyzed, the diseased, the suffering, and the dead. He often touched those He healed (Mk. 1:30-31). The world is full of needy people, and Christ opens our eyes to see them and not to be afraid to touch them. Listening and touching are important gestures of love.
The Lord continued serving despite opposition. Before the events of Calvary, nearly twenty references of the Lord’s doing ministry in the face of challenges, disdain, and rejection are found in Mark (such as 2:6-7; 2:16; 2:24). Christ shows us that if you are doing anything for the Lord, you can expect to suffer. The same pharisaical attitude that existed during Christ’s life still continues to this day. The Lord Jesus left us a self-sacrificing example to follow. A true servant cares nothing for himself or what others think of him; his only focus is to do the Master’s bidding (1 Pet. 2:19-21).
The Lord was a good manager. The Lord got the most out of His time on earth and showed good managerial skills while serving. Concerning evangelism, He sent His disciples “forth two by two” (Mk. 6:7). In accomplishing the miracle of feeding the 5000 (plus women and children), the Lord had them sit down in ranks of hundreds and fifties (Mk. 6:39-40). In application, might we, before taking on new ministries and responsibilities, learn discipline, good organizational skills, and efficient means of accomplishing God-directed ministry. Why would the Lord give us more to do for His kingdom, if we have not learned to be efficient in doing what He has already requested of us? Many of the Lord’s people today cannot respond to urgent needs with their time or money because they are strapped with debt and overly committed to an employer or business. May we all learn from the Lord how to manage every task well.
The Lord prayed before serving. Two examples of this are: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mk. 1:35); “And when He had sent them away, He departed into a mountain to pray” (Mk. 6:46). Mark and Luke refer more often to the Lord’s prayer life than Matthew who records Christ praying on only three occasions. This difference is in keeping with each writer’s theme, as the exalted King (in Matthew) would be less dependent on help from above than the lowly Servant.
How often do we surge ahead of God’s perfect plan? Waiting is often harder than working, for we feel compelled to do something – but not to pray! Prayer demonstrates complete faith in the Lord to initiate, direct, and complete each matter of our lives according to His will (1 Jn. 5:14). Besides moving the hand of God to affect His glory, prayer transforms our hearts by conforming our thinking to the mind of Christ.
With gratefulness and appreciation, God the Father proclaimed to all creation, “Behold My Servant!” Jesus’ meek and humble character, His compassion for the suffering, and His resolute spirit in the face of opposition invite us to follow His example and be true “servants of God.” True love needs no title to serve, just the power. And this we learn from Christ.
By Warren Henderson
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org