|Mark’s gospel gives us a special view of Christ as God’s Perfect Servant. Mark himself was a servant to the apostles Paul and Barnabas, so he was aptly chosen and qualified to record the deacon service of Messiah. However, lest any should judge God’s Servant as less than God Himself, the evangelist opens with the words, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk. 1:1 KJV). This is important, for it is Mark alone who records that no man, nor angel, nor even the Son knows the day and hour of the Lord’s return to earth (Mk. 13:32). Therefore he is speaking of Christ within His limitations as a human servant. Likewise, His fellow servants (Rev. 22:9), the angels, know neither the day nor the hour. For whereas as the Son of God, the Lord Jesus knows all things (Jn. 21:17), yet on His becoming human He was obliged to learn, for “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Lk. 2:52). Also, as a child Jesus was subject to His parents (Lk. 2:51).In this connection Mark says nothing about the birth or boyhood of the Christ, but begins with the baptism of John and the Lord in the Jordan River. Mark, like a servant himself giving an account of his own stewardship, proceeds from the beginning of His Master’s ministry. In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ could not be preached until Christ returned in triumph from the temptation (Mk. 1:13; Mt 4:1-11). However, if as the Perfect Servant Jesus was obliged to be baptized, Mark does not fail to assert Sonship and Deity. The second Gospel is therefore careful to include the anointing with the Spirit and the Father’s acknowledgment of His beloved Son. Not until these truths have been established does the evangelist describe Christ’s ministry as Servant. Thereafter Mark provides a vivid report of an impeccable ministry. While he does not explore every transaction in detail, general references like “He healed many ... and cast out many devils” (Mk.1:34) give an inkling of the vast amount of work done. And when added to the record of specific acts, these reveal that the Lord did more miracles in three years than God’s servant Moses did in 40! Also, the quality of the miracles displays the degree of divine “compassion” (Mk. 6:34) evident in this tireless Laborer.|
In summarizing an already brief gospel we aspire to answer some questions as to the job description of the Perfect Servant. What would we expect and demand of those who serve us? For example, what of obedience? And what was the first test given to the One anointed with the Spirit, but to confirm His degree of conformity to the Law of the Lord? On three occasions the Lord invoked Deuteronomy to rebuke the enticements of the Adversary (Mt. 4:1-11). Before taking up His duties, Jesus, the Perfect Servant proved thoroughly conversant with the contract of employment. It is also clear that He intended to honor every subclause to the letter, whatever the consequences.
Having been baptized, Jesus “straightway” (Mk. 1:10) came out of the Jordan to begin His service. And throughout Mark’s gospel this description of immediacy recurs. This was not spring’s zeal dying of cold in the winter of disenchantment. For Christ as the Servant for all seasons maintained a constant zeal. “It was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch” (Jn: 10:22-23). Likewise, later in Mark the Lord is seen, in the constancy of undiminished zeal, “straightway” about His Father’s business (Mk. 8:10). For as the Perfect Servant, He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8).
There are indeed many who are eager to take up certain responsibilities, but a servant is of no value if he or she is not up to the task. Therefore, Jesus was not only instant in His response but was also instantly effective. So when the woman with an issue of blood and the deaf man were healed, both miracles occurred “straightway” (Mk. 5:29; 7:35). But more than these, if this Servant were to be up to His vocation, then He must have the power to forgive sins! Therefore even before He healed the man sick of the palsy, He was able to say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mk. 2:5). By this He again confirmed that the One who had “taken the form of a Servant” was “equal with God” (Phil. 2:6-7).
The Lord was always at the right place at the right time, and did what was right in the right manner and with precise timing. So in the first chapter, “straightway on the Sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught” (Mk. 1:21).
He was always on hand to help when there was trouble. For that very day there was a demoniac present who tried to cause disruption. But God’s faithful Servant was on hand to cast out the demon and so make all men to marvel. This timing is again observed in the first chapter when “rising up a great while before day” He went into a solitary place to pray (Mk. 1:35).
The Extra Mile
We also note that while He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel, He nevertheless went out of His way to save the Gadarene demoniac (Mk. 5:1-20). This wretched man had no interest in nor claim upon the Son of David, yet Jesus went after the man whom none could tame or heal. Likewise, when He was seeking to eat bread after a hard day, He took time to honor the faith of a desperate woman who sought healing for her demonized daughter (Mk. 7:29).
Those who employ the dissolute or intemperate do so at their own risk. Those with a desire for strong drink and weak women are not to be relied upon. Those who bet on horses may be tempted to regard hard cash as easy money. Judas, the betrayer, could not resist the glint of silver nor the clink of jingling coins in a heavy money-bag. But this honest Servant had to ask to be shown a penny to justify paying tribute to Caesar.
As the ideal Servant, He displayed temperance and loving loyalty at all times. He was not only totally trustworthy, but He completed to perfection every task before Him – even to His own personal detriment. For in doing the Father’s will He had to be crucified. Therefore as the inimitable Servant He was compelled to pray, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Mt. 26-39).
We live in a world of toadies and flatterers. There are those who praise their masters to their face but curse them when out of earshot. But the Perfect Servant was able to say, as did the bondslave of old, “I love my master and I will not go out free” (Ex. 21:5). The Son of God delighted to serve His God and took pleasure in healing, saving, teaching and anything else demanded by Heaven. And so Messiah says in the Psalms, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy Law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:8). But regrettably this is not true of His unworthy servants. For as the Lord tells us, “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Lk. 17:10).
Naturally no one who loves Christ “calleth Jesus accursed” (1 Cor. 12:3). But as sinners we have to concede that sometimes we obey out of duty rather than love. But if we love Him we will keep His commandments, for the very love of Him who commanded us. For Christ excels all in His love of His Master in Heaven. If we love our Master who bought us, we will not only be faithful in business, but will lay down our life for the brethren as He did in service for us.
Imitation Of Christ
Those who claim Christ as their Master should prove their credentials by walking in His steps. Indeed, when we consider the Perfect Servant in Mark’s gospel we feel convicted of unworthiness. For only those who have proven themselves capable of obeying orders will be glorified to give orders when they reign with Christ. And if the twelve apostles will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, it is only because in obedience they drank the Master’s cup and shared in His baptism (Mk. 10:39). We note that the One seated in Heaven and commanding the angels is the same One who became lower than the angels having “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). Though the King of heaven (Isa. 6:1), He became the Servant of heaven that we might become His servants and reign with Him forever in the ages to come.
By Tom Summerhill
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org