Jesus – A Servant Leader

by John C. Westervelt

Mark records Jesus speaking to His disciples, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all."

Earlier in his gospel, Mark writes that as Jesus walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew casting a net into the lake. Jesus said, "Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed Him.

A little farther down the shoreline, Jesus saw James and John preparing to fish. He called them, and they left their father in the boat with the hired hands and followed Jesus. For these four seasoned fishermen to walk away from an honorable profession to follow Jesus shows us that this leader had a winsome personality. If you would like to be more winsome, study the ways of Jesus.

As the word of Jesus’ miraculous healings spread across the land, people came from all around to be near Him. Jesus told his followers, "So my counsel is: Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time."

At another time, Jesus and His disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a storm overtook them. Jesus was in the back of the boat, sleeping like a baby with His head on a cushion. The frightened disciples had to shake Jesus to awaken Him. Those of us who no longer sleep like a baby would do well to follow Jesus’ counsel not to be anxious.

After instructing His disciples, Jesus went off to teach and preach in their cities. Showing His gentle leadership, Jesus said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart."

On another occasion, Jesus showed His tough leadership as He drove the moneychangers out of the temple, saying, "My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a robber’s den."

Jesus ate supper with His disciples on the night before His crucifixion. Jesus got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, poured water into a basin, and began to wash His disciples’ feet. When finished, Jesus said, "Now that I have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet." Jesus actively demonstrated that a leader is a servant.

In Jesus’ final encounter with His disciples, He gathered some bread and a few fish and walked down beside the Sea of Galilee. For you see, He knew that Peter, James, John, Thomas, Nathanael, and two other disciples had been fishing all night and would be tired and hungry. Jesus built a fire, and as soon as He had a glowing bed of coals, He began to cook the fish and warm the bread.

As the disciples’ boat closed the distance to the shore where Jesus stood, He called out, "Friends have you caught any fish?"

One of the disciples answered, "No!"

Jesus said, "Throw your nets on the right side and you will find some."

When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then John said to Peter, "It is the Lord."

Impetuous Peter jumped into the water and swam to where Jesus stood. When the others reached the shore, Jesus said, "Bring some of your fish."

Peter climbed aboard the boat and dragged the net ashore. After the catch was secured, Jesus said, "Come and have breakfast."

Jesus had in mind some final instructions for His disciples, but first He was hospitable. Leaders are hospitable.

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