My Dear Shepherds,
We’ve waited so long. The night seems so deep. Our people need our constant reminders to remain at the ready. Jesus said,
Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. (Luke 12:35-36)
So we keep watching knowing that one day he will burst through the door of the heavens, trumpet sounding. What happens next in Jesus’ telling caught me by surprise.
Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. (v.37)
Did you realize that Jesus washing the feet of his disciples in the upper room was eschatology? What shocked them we tend to take for granted. Jesus served us on the cross. He served us when he sent the Holy Spirit, when we married into his family, the countless times he’s listened as we unburdened our hearts, and with all those answered prayers. He is constantly serving us, always washing our feet. But this?
It seems Jesus pictured us all coming into that great Upper Room, fresh from meeting him in the air, in our new immortal bodies, dressed in blood-bleached white linen. Before us is spread a vast bridal banquet, lavish and regal. The Lord, having prepared the place for us and us for the place, now invites us all to recline around the table. “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.” Then, instead of taking his seat at the head of the table, the Lord Jesus lays aside his blood-dipped, gleaming white robe and golden sash to dress as a servant, and he begins to wait on us! Not just on that festive occasion but forever after! Because, after all, that is his nature.
Surely, I thought, if Jesus’ disciples had gaped to see him wash their feet how much more dumbfounded will we be then. But John tells us that when we see Christ we will be like him. If Jesus, even in glory, bears “the very nature of a servant” then so shall we, finally and forever. In that upside-right world, seeing our King serve will be as natural and fitting as seeing a grand coronation in this world. His service will be the very embodiment of his majesty.
But for now, our duty is to “be dressed ready for service.” That is true for all believers but especially for pastors. In calling us, the Good Shepherd endowed us with love for the sheep of his pasture. That love leads to service.
Much of our service is a delight, of course, but not all of it. Pastoral service this past year sometimes seemed slavish, didn’t it? It’s one thing to be a servant but another to be treated like one. But for now, let us together with other shepherds, bear the slights of servitude with the grace and wisdom of Jesus. Let us wear the servant’s apron like we were born to it.
Love them because Jesus first loved you. Love them because Jesus died in order to dress his bride in spotless white. Love them because by so doing we all become more and more like Jesus, and because serving them gives them a taste for heaven.
Be ye glad!