The Road to Kingship
21 Nov 2009, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
THE ROAD TO KINGSHIP
After Jesus had announced to his disciples that they were to join with him for a special meeting in an upper room, they were to wonder what it was all about.
You could imagine them discussing this new turn of events as they considered all that had happened over the past week that had brought them to this hour.
Yes, they were in no doubt, that Jesus was the Messiah and soon they believed he would be king. Had He not entered Jerusalem in triumph? Now He was calling this secret meeting in the upper chamber and it was to be at this assembly that they felt He would make His announcement about the kingdom He was to establish (Campbell, 1972: 18).
Being His closest friends, they had no doubt that two of them would fill the top positions possibly that of Prime Minister and Treasurer, but who would fill each place was yet to be determined.
You could imagine the excitement as the hour drew close and in their anticipation for their appointment in that upper room they had overlooked the need to hire a servant to wash their feet. However, because each one thought he would have the position next to Jesus, individually they felt that they would not be asked to fill that role. It would be up to Jesus to settle the matter as to who would be placed in that humiliating position of being a servant to the rest (Ibid).
Jesus knew their thoughts and I am sure that He must have meditated on the approach He needed to take in order to correct their self-seeking attitudes.
His decision was to take an amazing course.
Jesus knew where He had come from and where He was going and so with confidence and poise He became the servant to wash their feet and we read this in John 13: 2-5. Let's read what it says (NIV).
'The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist.
After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciple's feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.'
Jesus knew that the disciples were coveting Kingship and so He gave them an example of service.
Was this to be the road they had to travel to fulfil their innermost desires? You could imagine the different thoughts going through their minds as they tried to digest what Jesus had done for them.
In this confused atmosphere they now all wanted to be servants, but for very different reasons. It was no longer because they wanted positions of importance in the kingdom, but because Jesus had now given them a never-to-be-forgotten example. They wanted to be like their beloved Master (Ibid).
It was only now that their feet had been washed and they had been rebaptised in the love for service that they were ready to take part in the second part of the ceremony that Jesus had prepared. It would seem that they were now ready to share in the emblems of Christ's broken body and spilled blood.
Matthew 26: 26 tells us that: 'While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body.'
Matt 26: 27, 28 then says that: 'Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'
This was to be a new cup with a different meaning. It was to be the cup of His New -Testament blood.
We need to recognise that in life each person has his own cup to drink. It may be a cup of sorrow, a cup of judgement, or a cup of punishment for broken law. Under the old covenant, there was no one with whom to exchange cups. The old covenant was a lonesome way to kingship, and no one ever arrived. There was no one to walk with, no one to strengthen you, no substitute, no one to drink the remaining dregs of sorrow for another. Each must drink his own (Ibid: 19).
Here now being offered was the cup of the new covenant. Jesus would take their cup of death so they might accept His cup of life. Because they all wanted to sit with Him on His throne, He now shows them the road.
He became a servant that they might fulfil their desires and reign with Him. While they had expected Him to set up His kingdom by force, they were now being given a vision of a throne founded on loving service.
Jesus had made Himself of no reputation for their sakes and we read this in Philippians 2: 5-7 (NIV) where we are told that 'Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.'
Jesus left a state of inexpressible glory, took upon Himself the most humble form of humanity, and performed the lowliest of offices, that men might be saved. As Christians we are to frame our lives according to this great example (Nichol, 1957: 154).
Who was this Master that the Disciples served?
To the Father He was equal
To the angels, He was the Creator
To Abraham, He was the promise of royal seed
To Lot, He was the avenger of Sodom
To Jacob, He was the wrestler
To the three Hebrew worthies, He was the Son of God
To Mary, He was the Babe of Bethlehem and
To His disciples, He was a servant washing their feet and offering them the emblems of His broken body and spilled blood (Campbell 1972: 19).
While they did not yet fully understand and were to continue making mistakes, they did catch a vision that night.
They began to realise, as we all must, from where they came and to where they were going. The importance of being servants was beginning to dawn.
The apostle Peter in 1 Peter 5: 5 was to confirm this view when he addressed the elders of the fledgling Christian church in Asia Minor. He counselled them by saying '…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'
Peter was making clear that just as a slave used to tie on his apron as a sign of his servitude and his duty to minister to the desires of others, Christians were to put on humility.
In dealing with this verse, one paraphrase says to: 'Tie the humility of mind around you like a slaves apron and fasten it with knots.'
If we were to follow Peter's advice, that apron of service would be seen as a royal insigne placing us on the road to kingship just as it was for those disciples in that upper room so long ago.
When we all are ushered into glory, one of the first acts of the King of kings will be to serve. As Luke 12: 37 makes clear, 'He will gird Himself [with the apron of a servant].., and will come forth and serve them.
Eternal Kingship that was so much desired by the disciples means eternal service. Dear friends, once we have found that royal road of loving service we need never ask again, 'Who shall be the greatest?'
Campbell, P. O. (1973) The Water and the Spirit. Washington DC: Review & Herald Publishing Association
Nichol, F. D. (1957) The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol 7. Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
Copyright © 2015 Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church