The Pattern Of The Christian Life
By E. W. Moore
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).
“Behold My Servant!” (Isa. 42:1). The Christ whom we worship has ennobled for ever the name and office of a servant, for though He was in the form of God, He took upon Him the form of a servant.
Let us endeavor briefly to contemplate our blessed Lord as the servant of the Father; first, in His descent; second, in His dependence; and third, in His devotion.
First of all, let us contemplate Him in His descent. If we would understand what it cost the Lord of glory to become a servant, we must remember who He was, and who He is. He was in the form of God, that is to say, He was by nature God. For, as Chrysostom says, “The expression in the ‘form of a servant’ means that He was by nature man; and therefore the expression ‘in the form of God’ means that He was by nature God.” Jesus is God. What a comfort to my soul! The blood shed for my redemption is the blood of God; the righteousness in which I stand is the righteousness of God. Jesus is God; so Solomon sang of Him: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old” (Prov. 8:22). So Isaiah saw Him: “I also saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple” (Isa. 6:1). And so every eye shall yet see Him: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him...” (Rev. 1:7).
But though He was God, great and glorious, He stripped Himself. He despoiled Himself, not by losing His glories, for they were inalienably His, but by emptying Himself of them, by laying them on one side. Oh, infinite descent! Who can fathom it? Who can measure it? In old days, when the words of the Creed were uttered, “God became man,” the congregation fell on their faces and worshiped. We may well put our shoes from off our feet, for the place whereon we tread is holy ground. God became man! “The Infinite came into the limits of space; the Eternal knew birth in time; the Unchangeable in stature grew”; the Omnipotent hung a helpless babe at His mother’s breast; the Omniscient asked questions to increase His learning; the All-sufficient and Self-existent asked for food and raiment. Who can say what a stoop was there?
In His descent He passed by the heavenly hosts; He took not on Him the nature of angels; He took not the form of seraphim; He came down, down to the lowest order of created intelligence – for man is the lowest order of intelligences, and He took upon Him the nature of man. He came, the spotless, unstained One, He who was holy, harmless, and undefiled; yet He came, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, subject to our infirmities and weaknesses, yet without sin. Oh, what descent was there!
Is He a pattern to us in this? He is! How remarkable that in Philippians 2 the descent of the Lord Jesus Christ to the humiliation of the Cross should be appealed to as an argument for the allaying of strife, the pacifying of dissension in the Philippian church. The only way in which self and pride, which cause contentions, can be slain, is by the imitation of our Lord. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). Brethren, what is the great hindrance to service? I say at once it is unwillingness to stoop. How the Master by His blessed descent has abased the pride and self-consciousness of men! How He bids us take the lowest place, that we may lift up those we go down to seek.
Turn for one moment to John 13, where we have indicated this wondrous humiliation of our Lord. “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded” (vv. 3-5).
What does He do? He takes the place of a menial. It was a menial servant’s office to wash the feet of the guests. But how came it that it was left to the Master of the feast to do their service work? Why did not Matthew rise, or James, or John? Why had not Peter, since he remonstrated so much with Christ, risen earlier to do the work himself? For answer turn to Luke 22:24, “There was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.” A service which involved taking the lowest place had no attraction for them. Their mind and heart were set upon the highest, and thus pride hindered them from serving.
Again, we see more completely, and more fully this lesson of humility taught when we think of the Lord’s dependence. All through His life on earth, He was dependent. The very thought of servant suggests the idea of dependence. The Lord Jesus Christ came to be dependent. We tread on holy ground when we speak of the Son depending on the Father; we can only be led aright by leaning on the handrail of His Word. But we need to consider it, for the principle on which He led His life is the pattern for ourselves. He Himself gives the key: “As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me” (John 6:57). Jesus! how did He live, when by virtue of His love He laid aside His glory; how did He live? He lived through the Father. He lived filled with the Holy Ghost. He lived possessed by God. He lived as the Man Christ Jesus, though He was God, the God-man. He lived as our example in dependence upon His Father. God leading Him, God energizing Him, God using Him. He tells us, “I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38). “...The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works” (John 14:10). “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). Oh, wondrous pattern of an emptied life!
Then, if this be so, do I not see the necessity of being self-emptied? If I am to live a life of faith, must I not be self-emptied? Christ emptied Himself of His glory; must not I be emptied of my meanness? Christ emptied Himself of His greatness; am I willing to be emptied of my littleness? Christ emptied Himself of His divine sufficiency; am I willing to be emptied of my self-sufficiency? He emptied Himself of His divine will, though He was the divine Son; am I willing to be emptied of self-will? Then, if I am, I am prepared to serve. Then to me heaven shall open, and upon me down shall come the Holy Ghost, to fill my poor capacity to the utmost brim. Christ shall come and take my feebleness to accomplish by insignificant instruments the mightiest ends. Then I shall begin to copy that life of Thine, for then I shall have not only the Pattern without me to imitate, but the Power within me to inspire.
Consider next the devotion of His life of service. We will notice a few details only of the service of Jesus.
First, its voluntariness. “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:9). I am content to do Thy will; Thy law is within My heart. Christ was the willing Servant; He rendered no mere mechanical or forced service. “I delight to do Thy will, O my God...” (Psa. 40:8). “...My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34).
Then its unobtrusiveness. “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets” (Matt. 12:19). There are very few servants of Christ who, Samson-like, could kill a lion without letting everybody know it. They would like a little corner in the newspapers, a little notice of some kind. But Christ made no parade; He would not have His good-doing blazed abroad. His doctrine dropped as the rain from heaven, and His speech as the gentle dew. He charged them that they should tell no man of His service. “Verily, Thou art a God that hidest Thyself...” (Isa. 45:15). May we be willing to be hid, and to have our work known only by its effects, doing it not unto men, but unto our Father in heaven, who seeth in secret and shall reward us openly.
Then, again its compassionateness. “A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench...” (Isa. 42:3). The bruised reed: you cannot bring a note of music, of sweet melody, from a bruised reed: give it into the Master’s hand. He knoweth our poor, feeble frame; He dealeth gently. He will take it and use it to His praise.
And then His sternness. How stern in rebuking sin: “Get thee behind Me, Satan...” (Matt. 16:23). How stern in exposing hypocrisy: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites...” (Matt. 23:14). “Ye hypocrites...” (Matt. 15:7; Luke 12:56).
And His laboriousness. You find what that was in Mark; and, for instance, in such a passage as this: “...They took Him even as He was in the ship...” (Mark 4:36); an expression, as has been pointed out, that denotes utter weariness, for soon after He is fast asleep on a pillow.
Then its faithfulness: the faithfulness of His service. In spite of all dangers He knew so well, He says, “...I have set My face like a flint...” (Isa. 50:7), and again “...He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). He would not be turned from the way of faithful obedience by any difficulty.
But these traits of His perfect devotion in service are too numerous to tell them all out. Let us take these fragments we have had from God’s Word, and say: “O Lord, who alone can render to the Father acceptable service, come into these poor feeble bodies of ours; we here present them to Thee, a living sacrifice; take them and make them Thine, that possessed by Thee, our members may be henceforth “...instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom. 6:13).
For sacrifice lies at the foundation of service. To this He calls us; may we hear His voice, obey His Word, follow His example, and accept His power, for His name’s sake. Amen.
– From The Overcomer. Used by permission of The Overcomer Trust. www.overcomertrust.org.uk