The Cost of Servanthood
“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon?” . . . And they took offense at him. Mark 6:3
Servanthood isn’t for wimps. Although God’s servants may enjoy many privileges, they also may experience many problems. As Mark demonstrates in this chapter, serving others can be tiring, thankless, and misunderstood. Sometimes even fatal.
Note first the privileges of servanthood. Observe the many miracles Jesus performed in Mark 6: feeding a multitude, walking on water, calming the sea, and healing hundreds of people. He also taught with a wisdom that astonished His listeners. He then passed that power and authority to His disciples, who were privileged to cast out demons and heal the sick.
However, many who witnessed these events “took offense.” They were repelled, rather than attracted by Jesus’ wisdom and power. Why? They couldn’t see past who they thought he was—a lowly carpenter’s son—to who He really was. The Greek word translated “took offense” means “to stumble.”* They stumbled over Jesus because they could not reconcile His person and methods with either their prejudices or religious misconceptions.
Those who eagerly followed Jesus around the countryside also misunderstood Him and His teaching. They were attracted to what He did, not who He was. Through His miracles and messages, Jesus intended to draw sincere followers to repentance (v 12) and into servanthood (v 37). Most in the crowd were merely interested in seeing a show, not yielding their lives.
In the Bible, God equipped His servants with the power and authority they needed to carry out His will—privileges He also gives to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. But those privileges may generate problems, even persecution. For John the Baptist, for the disciples and for Jesus, that persecution led to death. Our servanthood may not lead to physical death, but it may lead to the death of a relationship or a job. It definitely requires a death to self (Romans 12:1-2).
If our goal in serving others is popularity or prestige, ultimately we will be disappointed. But if our goal is to serve God, to proclaim His message and glorify His name, it won’t matter whether people receive or reject our acts of service (v. 12). We’ll know that our Master is pleased (Matthew 25:21; Hebrews 13:16).
Mark notes that the disciples were “completely amazed” when Jesus calmed the storm because “they had not understood about the loaves” (vv. 51-52). What insight do you think the disciples were supposed to gain from the feeding of the five thousand? What should we learn from it?
Mark inserts the account of John the Baptist’s death in this chapter (vv. 17-29). What does John’s experience teach us about the cost of servanthood?
Read Romans 5:1-5. What was Paul’s perspective on the privileges and problems of serving God?
Denise K. Loock
*”Greek Lexicon :: G4624 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 10 Feb, 2014. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4624&t=KJV