The Servant Is As His Master

In the name of the Father, and of the  Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

You and I are not masters and teachers.  We are servants and disciples.  We are the dependent under the control, guidance, protection, and leading of another.

Yes, throughout the scriptures we see countless metaphors that reinforce this ‘servant-master’ relationship that we have with the Lord.  For example: we Christians are sheep, not the shepherd; we are branches, not the true vine; we are clay, not the potter; we are children of God, not the Father; we are the bride of Christ, not the groom; we are disciples, not the teacher; and we are servants, not the master. 

Problems arise though when we try to usurp this proper order. Yes, as soon as we rise to the level of master, this relationship of ‘master-servant’ ceases to exist and we find ourselves in the place of the master bearing all the responsibilities that come with attempting to be God.

You see, when we violate the First Commandment by promoting ourselves to the master and commander of our own empires, we not only reject our role and status as a servant, but we also reject the Lord as our master.  Our sinful nature is really at fault here, for the sinful flesh cannot stand to be in a subservient role under the Lord.  As foolish as it is, we believe the lie that we can cope with the pressures of the world on our own.  We believe the lie that we can adequately discern the meaning to our life and that we have the ability to actualize our own self-imposed goals.  We naively imagine that we don’t need a master and that we don’t need to be a servant who is dependent on the Lord because we think we can muster up enough wisdom to perceive reality for ourselves.  We think that we can overcome our sin by our own atoning accomplishments.  We presume that we can exert our commanding will over the emotional, physical, and spiritual pressures of life.  It is without a doubt that this notion of being subservient to the Lord offends not only our flesh, but also it offends our North American ideal of independent autonomy and self-sufficiency.  Indeed, we believe the myth that we can and should become greater than our master.  Tragically and sinfully we rebel from this status of being a servant.  Lord have mercy on us.

In our Gospel reading from this morning Jesus states that a disciple is not above the teacher and a servant is not above his master.  Attempting to be above the master is not only a defiant act that breaks the First Commandment; it is not the way things are supposed to be.  You and I are not inherently designed to be the master, to be the teacher, to be the shepherd, and so forth.  Otherwise stated, there is a necessity for someone to be above us and outside of us, namely the Lord.  There is indeed a requirement for us to be acted upon, connected to someone else, and depending on one greater than ourselves. 

Yes, not only is there a need for us to be the servant and the disciple, it is also very good for us as well.  Consider for a moment our previous metaphors.  The shepherd speaks, we hear his voice, and the shepherd then ‘leads’ us as sheep to green pastures and still waters.  As dead branches we are ‘connected’ to the life giving true vine, ‘given’ life and then ‘pruned’ so that we bear much fruit.  As clay, the potter ‘presses’ and ‘shapes’ us into his instruments.  As the bride of Christ, the Groom ‘chases’ after us, ‘cleanses’ us, and ‘binds’ Himself to us.  As an orphaned child, the Father ‘adopts’ us through the blood of Christ and ‘makes’ us a part of His family in the Kingdom.  Thus, as you can see, it is very good for us to be connected to the Lord.

My friends, your identity, worth, and assurance are actually derived from what you obtain from the Lord.  All that you have is borrowed from Him; all that you have is received from Him; who you are, has been given to you and applied to you from Him.  Truly, like a servant you are actually owned by the master.  You are connected to the Lord; you are what the master is. It is enough to be like the master and not ‘be’ the master.
This is what Jesus is attempting to communicate to the Apostles in today’s Gospel reading.  In the Gospel reading from today Jesus is communicating that the disciples and servants are not greater than their master and teacher.  They are also “not ‘independent individuals.’  A disciple is essentially defined by the relationship he has with his teacher, a [servant] by the connection with his master.  So it is with Christians.”[1]  Indeed, the Apostles were disciples and servants who were not greater than Christ, but yet profoundly connected to Him.  The same is true for you and me.  You and I are not greater than Christ; however the Lord is our master and we are His servants for we are not our own.  You have been ransomed from sin, death, and the devil, not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ making you His servant.  You are joined to the master and you are like Him.

Being joined to the master though, does bring about certain repercussions for you and me.  You see, being joined to the master means that there will be certain experiences that we can expect and count on.  “What can we expect and count on?” you may ask. Tragically, you may have been told false promises, by well-intentioned Christians, that being a servant of Christ means that you will have a good life without pain or struggle as your future gets brighter and brighter due to being promoted to new levels of glory.  You may have been told that being a disciple of Jesus means you will experience victory over every evil foe and that your wildest dreams will come true, as every obstacle in your path topples.  The stirring truth of Christianity my friends is that the disciple shall be as his teacher, the servant shall be as his master.  Otherwise stated, what you can expect for faithfully standing your ground, faithfully standing on the Rock of Christ and His Word, is that which Jesus received.  Yes, what you can expect as a servant is slander, rejection, persecution, ridicule and possibly death.  Let me explain.  As you walk in vocations such as your jobs, family duties, citizen roles, and so forth, you will find yourself in situations where you will speak the Good News of the reign of God in Jesus.  As you confess Christ though, you will receive the same hostility and persecution that the master received.   The reason why?  Sin has a grip on the human heart and is opposed to the Gospel.  The world rejected Jesus, shall it not reject His servants?  The evil one opposed the Christ, shall he not oppose Christ’s servants?  Hard hearts opposed Christ’s message, shall hearts also not reject it today? 

My friends, you and I live in the twenty-first-century North American context, which means that we have many around us who renounce the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.  Yes, “many consider Jesus to be one savior among many and Christianity to be one of many religions offering truth that leads to eternal life.  Many will not have the true God to be their only King and Savior.  They will vilify and reject those ‘intolerant,’ ‘narrow-minded’ disciples of Jesus who claim that there is salvation to be found in no one else.”[2]

This is the way that it is.  The servant is as his master.

You who have ears, hear the words of Jesus, “Have no fear.”  Surely, take comfort and do not be afraid, dear saints, for Jesus does not share all of this to demoralize you and me.  Rather, Christ shares this because it is the reality how things actually are for those who are connected to Him.  Thus, take comfort and do not be afraid dear children of God; do not be afraid of failure resulting from enemies of the cross, “because the day will come when every secret of God’s plan in Christ—and all of men’s hidden sin and rebellion—will be made know to all.”[3]  Have no fear and remember that the worst a persecutor can do to you will not destroy your relationship with the Father.  Do not be afraid Christians; Christ’s enemies may physically kill the body but are certainly unable to kill the soul.  Take comfort and fear not, for if persecution and even martyrdom come knocking at your door, you are under the Father’s loving care.  “Do not fear; you are worth more than many sparrows.  The Father has not and will not overlook his suffering ones.”[4]

Fear not little flock for even though you are servants, disciples, sheep, clay, branches, a bride, children, and so forth, you are connected to the Master, the Teacher, the Shepherd, the Potter, the Vine-dresser, the Groom, and the Father.  Thus, no one can snatch you, no one can sever you, and no one can possess you for you belong to the Christ.  Truly you have been bought at a price and are connected to the Lord.   You are His servant, His disciple, His sheep, His children, His redeemed and forgiven sinner. 

The servant is as his master is.  And how is the master?  The master, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  From thence He will come to you, to resurrect you and take you home. 

You are the servant, He is the master, you belong to Him.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

[1] Jeffery Gibbs, Matthew 1:1-11:1: Concordia Commentary Series (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2006), 525.

[2] Ibid, 526.

[3] Ibid, 528.

[4] Ibid, 531-532.

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