By Roland W. Keith
Not every business leader, not every politician, not every military commander has come up “through the ranks,” during times of trial. Some ascend to the top of their respective fields without learning all the lessons necessary to fully appreciate the responsibilities, power and sacrifice that constitute true leadership. Not all learn what most of the great leaders throughout history understood— that leadership of the highest order goes hand-in-hand with personal sacrifice and service. Examples of truly great leadership are often studies of remarkable perseverance, humbling trials, and personal loss— all in service to some greater good to which the individual has dedicated himself. The central figure in the Judeo-Christian history of God and His relationship to man is one well acquainted with the duel role of the servant- leader.
In the very first verse of his gospel account Mark tells us that it is “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Later the Son would be acknowledged as the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (I Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14). He is the natural ruler of the kingdoms of the world and the spiritual realm of man. Yet, how did this King describe Himself? Of Himself, He said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). A Heavenly King who would sacrifice His own Son, and a Son who would submit Himself in sacrifice to establish a kingdom for the redemption of man, as proclaimed in John 3:14-17, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
Christ established His kingdom by doing for man what the Law of Moses could not do (Hebrews 10: 1-4), provide a once and forever solution to the divine requirement for justice. The claims and promises Jesus made were both proven and guaranteed when He rose from the grave, providing us with a full assurance that the man who sacrificed everything for us is indeed the long awaited Messiah who can lead us into the eternal promised land if we will put our faith in Him (Hebrews 10: 19-23). Many of the Jews in His own day rejected Jesus because He did not meet their vision of a deliverer and King. They did not understand the prophetic words of Isaiah (Isaiah 53:1-12), who revealed their future King as a man Who would establish a kingdom by serving those He would lead through personal sacrifice, including the ultimate immolation in human terms. He died as an innocent man in order to pay the penalty for the guilty. As Isaiah said He was crushed for our iniquities, and yet, “it was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the righteous one, My servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the many, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (53:10-12).
From His place on the cross Jesus could already see His eternal offspring— the millions, the billions of souls who would be reborn into His kingdom and accounted as righteous. The will of the LORD has indeed prospered in His hands since that day. Jesus gave us an example and a path to follow as Paul noted when he wrote, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Romans 6:3-5).
If we follow His lead and obey His commands, He will grant to us all the promises that await the citizens of His kingdom (II Peter 1:3-4). There is, however, a warning for those who might seek dual citizenship with the kingdom of God and the world: “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them” (II Peter 2:20-21). If we accept Christ as King, we must be loyal to Him and His kingdom.
Jesus has been described as the suffering servant; a description supported by Isaiah. But He was not alone; there are many noted in the Bible who served the Lord and suffered for their efforts. Most of them came from the three classes of people who were anointed by the Lord for their work: prophets, priests, and kings. It turns out that our Savior is all three.
According to Paul, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The apostle also encouraged his readers to “pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard” (Hebrews 2:1-3). As a prophet Jesus declared the will of God, and it is in our own best interest to heed that call.
In addition to being a prophet Jesus has been appointed as the eternal, perfect high priest, according to Hebrews 2:23-28, “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but He holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever. Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for His own sins and then for those of the people, since He did this once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.” Jesus is the only high priest seated at the right hand of God, exalted above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26; 8:1).
A Prophet. A Priest. And, a King. In his first letter to Timothy Paul wrote, “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will display at the proper time— He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” (6:14-16). As a king Christ is due the allegiance of all who seek a place in His kingdom. As the Prophet, Priest and King of the Most High God Jesus has, in a very literal sense become all things to all men. There is no other we can turn to for guidance, forgiveness, for truth, or for salvation. This is because Jesus is also God’s appointed Savior, the Redeemer of mankind. And, He is one other thing.
He is the only Son of God (John 3:16; Mark 1:1). As a Son He was obedient to His Father and humbled Himself to become a man. As a man He learned obedience through suffering. And, through perfect submission He became the source of salvation for all who will in turn and humble themselves before Him (Hebrews 5:8-9). The scriptures tell us that the LORD was pleased with His Son and raised Him up above all others who had been sent before Him, making Him the final word in His revelations to man (Mark 1:9-11; 9:2-7).
Jesus once asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16). It is this confession, or more accurately the truth of Peter’s confession, that Christianity is founded upon (Matthew 16:18), as Paul confirmed when he wrote, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3:11). On another occasion Paul would note that the prophets and apostles were a part of that foundation, but the chief cornerstone, the true foundation that everything else is built around is Christ, with each Christian being a part of the structure as a whole (Ephesians 2:19-22).
It is an amazing thing to consider that the Prince of Heaven would take on the likeness of man (Philippians 2:5-8), and come to this earth as a servant in order to give His life as a ransom for someone like me.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.