The Thankful Heart That Serves

cb6fcdb1[1]If you choose to follow Jesus out of gratitude for what He has done for you then you will become a servant. Jesus said Himself, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45   True thankfulness returns in service to others. When you are truly thankful for something it puts good will in   your heart.

Peter and all the other disciples were corrected many times on who God considered great in the kingdom. The passage in Mark 9:33-37 reflects one of these instances.  The disciples had been arguing over who was the greatest and Jesus rebuked them and sat a child on His lap.  In the ancient Jewish culture children were considered women’s work and were not even     allowed to bother the men when they spoke about religious matters.   Jesus brought the children into the religious conversation and essentially told the men to grow up and learn from the children they were shunning.  A child believes and follows and simply wants to be included in any way with the one he loves.  A child mimics the one he follows, and Jesus wants you and me to mimic Him; that means to become a servant of all…especially to children who are watching (and mimicking) our every move!

Forgiveness Expresses Thankfulness Matthew 18:21-35

One time Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive. He thought seven times was generous since the Jewish rabbis of his time taught that no more than three times was necessary.  Jesus ‘ answer to Peter was astonishing.  “not seven times, but seventy times seven times”, he said.  Jesus was not limiting forgiveness to 490 times, but He was essentially saying “stop counting!”  The parable He told afterward drives the message home. A truly thankful person serves up forgiveness again and again because they are grateful for the debt of sin that God has forgiven them. In fact, Jesus said we will not be forgiven our sin if we do not forgive those that sin against us. Matthew 6:15 Christians are only capable of this type of forgiving spirit because the Spirit of God lives within us, and it is He who provides the ability to offer forgiveness over and over, just as God forgives us over and over again.

Washing the Feet of the World John 13:1-17, Matthew 5:14-16

Peter watched Jesus serve for three years as he followed Him, and it was no coincidence that Jesus’ teaching at the Last Supper would drive that message of being a servant deep into his heart. Washing the feet of guests was the job of a slave and when Jesus offered to wash the disciples’ feet before the evening meal Peter was troubled. The illustration Jesus gave was powerful.  In essence He was saying that he came to serve man to make him clean before God. In thankfulness for His service to us, we need also to serve the world in the same way.  It is the call of Christ to every believer to be a servant to all.  So that our good deeds may become light in darkness that leads people to God.

Serving in the Strength of God 1 Peter 4:10-11

With clean feet, Peter would go on that night to see Jesus arrested. In anger Peter would cut off the ear of one who came to arrest his Lord, but  Jesus would serve the man by  healing his ear and telling Peter to put away his sword. John 18:10-11, Luke 22:51   With clean feet, Peter would follow Jesus from afar and with a dirty mouth he would say he never knew him, Matthew 26:74-75   then, with clean feet, Peter would then run off weeping and hide while Jesus served mankind with His last breath.  “It is finished” John 19;30.

But Peter was clean…Jesus said so, just as Christians are forgiven yet often live contrary to that gracious pronouncement.  John 13:10b  But Peter would later run to the empty tomb John 20:3-4 , He would jump into the water and swim to shore to meet Jesus at one of His appearings John 21:7 , He would be reinstated by Jesus  in love John 21:15-19, and He would go on to serve as Jesus did until his death as a martyr.  Peter was thankful to God and so he served others in His name.   In his writing he instructed us to do the same saying, “If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength that God provides”. In this we are reminded that it is Christ who washes us clean for service, and we in turn should now serve in His strength.

“Remember the Lord!”

Simon Peter had a wife. We know this because in Luke 4:38 Jesus healed his mother-in-law. The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:5 that Peter took his wife on his apostolic mission. Peter was married. That’s really all we know for certain about his domestic life. Eusebius cites the testimony of Clement, who says that before Peter was crucified he was forced to watch the crucifixion of his own wife. As he watched her being led to her death, Clement says, Peter called to her by name, saying, “Remember the Lord!” To remember Him is to be thankful for His service to us. Can we do less than serve him with our life even unto death?

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