Suffering Servant

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 (NASB)

The Jewish people were awaiting the Messiah, but many of them seemed to craft a Messiah out of their desires. The people wanted someone to overthrow the Roman government. The Sadducees and Pharisees most likely desired a Messiah who would tell them, “Jolly good, priests and scribes. Continue doing what you’re doing.”

Jesus defeats those expectations. He comes as a suffering servant, setting aside his rightful place with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He leaves everything he knows and enters the strange, confusing world of man. Jesus spends most of his time with “sinners”—the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the lame, the demon-possessed, the uneducated and uncouth—not the religious or political elite. 

This Jesus, the Messiah, has no patience for the religious leaders of the day. He regularly calls them to account for their actions, as well as for their lack of love and faith (Luke 18:9-14). The leaders are not serving the people or encouraging them to worship God; rather, they shackle the people with more rules and regulations. The Sadducees’ and Pharisees’ yoke is not easy or light but a burden. They strangle the spirit of the law in a pursuit of its letter (2 Corinthians 3:4-11).

But Jesus resurrects faith and love, grace and truth. He enters the world, not to rule it, but to seek and save the lost, to serve rather than be served. He, the suffering servant, invites the people to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and to find rest for their weary and heavy-laden souls (Matthew 11:28-30). He invites us to do the same.

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