The Robe or The Towel

Servanthood. What comes to mind? Is it something such as Downton Abbey, a big house hustling and bustling with footmen, lady’s maids, and a butler? Do you imagine a hard life filled with sadness and despair? Does Jesus come to mind?  

Throughout scripture, servanthood is a prominent theme and a defining characteristic of Christ and His followers. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus discusses the time of the final judgement when the sheep will be separated from the goats. To the sheep he says, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Jesus’ teaching here is very clearly laying out what the life of one of His followers is to look like – a life of humble service. Jesus himself exemplified this, never more clearly than in John 13:1-17 when He donned a towel, kneeled in front of His disciples, and washed their feet.

Jesus’ disciples so often missed the true meaning of His teachings. In Matthew 20:20-28, the mother of James and John comes to Jesus asking him to put her sons at His right and left hand in His new Kingdom. In biblical times, those in power often had corresponding robes to signify their importance. James and John wanted a robe. Jesus wanted them to see the importance of the towel. Author Duane Elmer in Cross-Cultural Servanthood says it this way, “The values of God’s kingdom are different from the values of this world. In the world, greatness is judged by the power a person exercises over others. In the Kingdom, greatness is judged by service to people. As children of the King, we follow Kingdom values.” I pray we will wake up each day and choose to don a towel as we step out on mission to show the love of Jesus to everyone we encounter.




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