In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis describes a horrific place where all dreams come true and characters find themselves living in their own nightmares. As darkness engulfs them, Lucy cries, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now!” At first nothing changes, but soon a huge bird flies towards them, encircling them and then flies away. As it circles around them the bird whispers to Lucy, “Courage, dear heart.” She is certain she has heard Aslan’s voice. The captain of the ship follows the bird’s guidance and they find themselves in the light again.
Serving others is not necessarily living our own nightmare. After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive. But sometimes in the laying down of our lives, we find ourselves anxious about God’s love for us. The hours and days ahead of us seem dark and hopelessness threatens us. We may experience weariness and deep discouragement as we nurture life in others: in parenting, mentoring another woman, or nurturing a relative with disabilities. Lucy’s words resonate with my own heart, “God, if ever you loved me at all…”
As we start a new week of serving and dying to self, where do we find fresh endurance to love others beyond our own strength?
The Son of Man, Our Servant
Over the past months I have discovered comfort in an astonishing truth found in Mark 10:43-45:
“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Just before these verses, the disciples James and John had come to Jesus and requested they wanted to sit at his right and left hand when He was in glory. They wanted to be great in Jesus’ kingdom. The Lord used this opportunity to explain to them who is truly great in His kingdom.
In this passage, Jesus used striking language to refer to Himself. In calling Himself the Son of Man, He was alluding to the prophetic vision in Daniel 7: 13-14. In this passage, Daniel saw one “like a son of man” to whom the Ancient of Days gave all dominion and glory and a kingdom from all peoples and nations “who would serve Him.”
And yet in Mark we find something unexpected. The Son of Man said he didn’t come to be served but to serve those for whom He would give his life. Jesus is the Servant Isaiah talks about who would be “a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42: 6-7).
There is great joy in the Son of Man’s revelation of Himself as our Servant. He knows we are utterly unable and unwilling to count others as more important than ourselves. So He both served us and enabled our service. He did that by living a perfect life, giving us His righteousness and taking our condemnation. By dying and rising again, he gave us a new heart and set us free from our sin so that it no longer has dominion over us (Rom. 6: 14).
Christ became a servant until death. God then highly exalted him and gave Him a name that is above every other name (Phil. 2: 8-9). Christ served us with his life, death and resurrection. But his service to us did not end there!
Now at God’s right hand, He ministers to us daily as our merciful and faithful High Priest (Heb. 8: 1-2). It blows my mind to think that our highly exalted King Jesus is still that Son of Man who serves. As our priest forever:
- He always lives to pray for us as He sits at the right hand of the Father (Rom. 8: 34; Heb. 7: 25).
- He is able to completely save those who draw near to God through Him (Heb. 7: 25-26).
- He provides emergency help by giving us a way of escape when we are being tempted (Heb. 2:16-18).
- He is our helper who can never forget or abandon us (Heb. 13: 5-6).
We find power as we entrust ourselves to the Son of Man’s ongoing service. Through His Spirit in us we have a Helper who enables us to be helpers! He is intimately involved in our lives, equipping us daily to do God’s will (1 Peter 4: 10-11).
As we experience the difficulties and sorrows that nurturing others can bring, our hearts may cry out with worry or bitterness, “Who cares for me?! Who sees my needs?!” Believe that our Risen Lord does. Comfort food, close friends, Instagram and Netflix will never hold a candle to what Jesus does for us at the right hand of God. When we are desperate for comfort and respite, let’s run to the Throne of grace! Promised grace and mercy await us there (Heb. 4: 16). His help and provision may come in the form of His people serving us or in the removal of the hardship. But it may also come by the way He strengthens our soul (Psalm 138: 3).
And, can you believe this? At the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, the Son of Man, who served us with his life, death, resurrection and intercessory work, will dress Himself, have us recline at the table and serve us (Lk. 12: 32). His service to us will continue into Eternity! Such is our Savior! O for faith, then, to trust His voice whispering to us today: “Courage, dear heart.”