Sermon Notes: The Epistle of Jude - A Servents Heart
The Servant’s Heart
A. Background and Review
1. Written BY Jude; the brother of James, the brother of Jesus
2. Written TO the church in general
3. Written FOR the purpose of refuting certain heretics, or schismatic individuals who were ripping the church apart with both heterodoxy and heteropraxy
B. Exegetical Comments on the Text: “Jude a bondservant of Jesus Christ and brother of James to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ…”
1. Jude introduces himself FIRST as a “bond-servant” of Jesus Christ.
a. As mentioned last week, he COULD have called have begun by identifying himself as the “brother” of Jesus Christ, claiming for himself a blood relationship giving increased credibility. That he chose to identify himself by his covenantal status as a “bond-servant” demonstrates both his own humility as well as what is important from God’s perspective.
b. The word “bond-servant;” Israel had “bond-servants” who were sold into slavery for six years before being released in the seventh or “sabbatical” year. However, the Greek term (doulos) comes from the word “to bind” and “one in bondage.” Originally, it referred to the lowest level of slavery but came to mean “one who gives himself up to the will of another.”
(1) Like our English word “servant” the Greek “doulos” had a range of meanings; e.g., it could be a generic word for “servant” or refer to a “slave.”
(2) In modern culture, we have “employees” rather than “servants” wherein a person contracts with another to sell his labor at an agreed upon price. The only people who call their employees “servants” are the very rich-and even then, usually the term refers to those who work in a domestic setting; i.e., maids, butlers, cooks, etc.
(3) A “servant” in the ancient world however held a far different position than a modern employee. It was not just his work that the Master owned, but essentially his life. The “servant” became an intimate member of the household (which is why we still use the term today to refer primarily to domestic employees).
(4) A “servant” was a person who by definition was bound to a particular household and though not necessarily a “member of the family” in the same way as a son, could well share in the inheritance if they were faithful and conscientious enough (Pvbs 17:2)
(5) Thus the word “bond-servant” implied a close relationship, but still a servant relationship; one bound to do the will of another.
c. Servant-hood is the basis of Christian leadership and life
(1) Jesus identified Himself as the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53 (Mark 10:45) and as such sets the model for basic Christian ethics. The preeminent moral example He gave regarded His own death for us: “Not My will, but Thy will be done…” hence, Jesus bound His will to that of the Father.
(2) In contrast, the original sin was a rebellious act against serving God as King and attempting to usurp His kingly prerogatives by determining good and evil for one’s self
(3) Unlike the pagan who attempts to exercise unlawful authority over others, Christians are supposed to demonstrate service as the basic pre-requisite for leadership Mark 10:42-44
(4) Hence, because Jesus is LORD, we are HIS servants; and we demonstrate THAT service, in the way we treat and minister to one another Phil 2:3-4
(5) Christ even especially equips every believer with what we need to serve one another 1 Cor 12:7, Eph 4:11ff, etc.
(6) And even in the distribution of gifts and calling amongst His ministers (which is of course just another word for “servant”), their basic function is to equip the rest of the body for their “work of service” Eph 4:11-12
d. Even though we began as servants, and our task is to serve, yet God in His grace has also made us sons through faith;
(1) Jn 1:17 we are “Sons of God.” Yet, this is not a position of ease, comfort, or irresponsibility, but rather provides even more incentive to serve God with faithfulness, grace, and humility-servants serve out of duty-sons serve out of love and responsibility
(2) Faithless, irresponsible, foolish sons are a curse to their fathers (see Proverbs 17:21, 25) and even the Holy Spirit of God can be grieved by our actions (Eph 4:30)
e. Thus, being a servant of the Living and True God is both an honor as well as a solemn duty; we will either serve Him out of love and appreciation for His gracious kindness and mercy, or out of fear of the consequences; even vessels of wrath have a purpose… Rms 9:22
f. Yet, many Christians act as if God exists to serve them; to give them a happy, easy life, full of fun and interesting experiences, there to bail them out of troubles or to make life easy for them. This is not Biblical Christianity…
2. Though like Jude, we are servants of the Living God, yet we are also the “called” the “beloved” of God; being bound to Christ’s will is no burden, but sweet release because He loves us.
a. This is a great and wondrous mystery, too profound for words and perhaps even beyond our ability to fully comprehend-but before the foundation of the World, God has known His “called” ones, His elect. He has loved them with an ever-lasting love and despite sin, pain, disease or even death, nothing can separate us from His love (Rms 8:31)
b. Yet Christians say these things too easily, without appreciating what God has done and will do for us. Sometimes, to wean us off our foolish preoccupation with His blessings and bring us into an even deeper, more intimate relationship with Him, He takes away the blessings to test, try and purify our hearts so that we might know what is truly important.
c. Ultimately and finally a man’s life is not measured by the gifts he has been given, the opportunities made available to him or even by His accomplishments; for all these things are only temporary. And the greatest man in this life will still die and his work dies with him.
d. But if like Abraham, Moses, David et. al., He has walked with God, and served Him faithfully, loving Him with all his heart, strength and mind, then he will have both lived this life with all the richness possible, as well as prepared for the next life.
e. It is not as the Greeks, or the Gnostics or the Monists claim that this life is illusionary or unimportant, but that we achieve our highest and holiest purpose in glorifying God. We were created as His vicegerents, His servants to subdue His creation and so demonstrate His glory.
f. And though our sin brings His righteous wrath, yet His love means that we are redeemed from our sins, and restored as His sons. Hence we live this life, not just for “rewards” or because the next life is “better” but rather because the life to come is the fulfillment of all His promises of complete and utter restoration
C. Conclusions and Applications
1. If you are a servant, do you act like one? The classic test of whether we have a “servant’s heart” is how we respond when we are treated like one – how do YOU respond?
2. Consider right now what is the most difficult situation you are facing? Loneliness, frustration, anger, bitterness, fear? Now, ask yourself, “What is God trying to teach me through this situation – if I am His servant, what service does He want me to render?
3. Changing our orientation/attitude is only the first step; the next is to grow in grace. It begins with saturating your mind with Scripture, to know His will and internalize His values. It then extends out from there to applying that will to your thoughts, words and actions.