Yesterday we looked at some of the demands Jesus requires of every genuine disciple. By way of review, we are commanded to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him on a day-to-day basis. Anything less than this total surrender to Jesus disqualifies us from being His disciples. This voluntary total surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is not only required of us, it is evident in the life of every genuine follower of Jesus recorded in the New Testament.
The picture of our submission to Jesus is most graphically illustrated by those who refer to themselves as “slaves of Jesus Christ” throughout the New Testament. This designation is not understood when reading most of the English translations of the Bible because most translations use the word ‘servant’ when translating the word which should be literally translated as “slave.” Here are some examples:
Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God–
Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness–
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
Jude 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:
Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
Paul, Timothy, James, Peter, Jude and John are each referred to as “slaves” in the passages listed above. The Greek word translated as “servant” above is “doulos.” The International Standard Bible Dictionary defines “doulos”:
A very common word with a variety of meanings, all implying a greater or less degree of inferiority and want of freedom: (1) The most frequent usage is as the equivalent of “slave” . — The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
These men, who wrote most of the New Testament, refer to themselves as slaves when describing their individual relationships with Jesus. Jude is the brother of Jesus. Yet his understanding of who Jesus is has him referring to himself as Jesus’ slave. Likewise, most scholars believe that James – the author of the Epistle of James – is also Jesus’ brother James. Assuming they are correct, we have another example of a literal blood relative of Jesus who no longer refers to himself as a sibling, but rather as a slave of Jesus.
Most of us are repulsed by the idea of becoming someone’s slave. Slaves are at their Master’s bidding. Choice in the life of a slave is replaced by a strict adherence to all the Master commands. Most of us imagine the shackled Africans being cruelly treated when we think of slavery. History does not hold many examples of slavery being a good thing for the slave.
However, for us who follow Jesus, there could be no greater privilege in life than to be granted the opportunity to be the slave of Jesus Christ. Who loves us more than Him? Who knows more than Jesus? Who is more powerful than Jesus? We are the willing slaves of the Lover of our souls. And we owe our very lives to Him.
It is essential, therefore, that you and I evaluate our attitudes when it comes to following Jesus. Have we honestly grappled with the notion that Jesus demands our all? Are we really willing to let Him establish the direction and purpose of our daily lives? This is the essence of what Jesus means when He tells us we have to deny ourselves and follow Him. Our answer must be, “Yes!” to Him or we cannot consider ourselves His followers.
If you look at the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, you will see that Jesus Himself lived with this same attitude when it came to accomplishing His Father’s will.
John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
John 8:28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”
John 12:49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.
If Jesus lived His life totally surrendered to His Father, how can we expect to please God with anything less than total surrender to His will?
Consider the attitude of your heart today. Are you really willing to live as a slave of Jesus?