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Jesus of Nazareth - The Girded Servant

J W de Silva, Victoria, Australia

God’s glory is found where the natural man least expects it and His grace appears where man is in greatest need of it. The girded Nazarene is such an instance. "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" - every good and eternal blessing, for the Nazarene is the Son from heaven, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2.3). In John 13 He arises from supper figuring His wondrous stoop into humanity; His divestiture tells of His willing step into humility as the obedient servant of God. Christ "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant" (Phil 2.7). His grace and glory are seen in what He willingly took off and in what He willingly put on. He girded himself with the towel of a servant. Though the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him bodily, He brought to nothing the exterior glory of His Deity.

With the storm clouds of Calvary gathering, the Son unto whom the Father committed all things, washed the feet of His known betrayer. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." He was, in His betrayal, the poorest Servant, His value set at a gored bondman’s: "If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver" (Ex 21.32). "So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver" (Zech 11.12). How glorious that "the stone which the builders disallowed" has become "the head of the corner". And what grace, that because of the humility of the girded Nazarene, we can buy water for its life, wine for its joy, and milk for its strength "without money and without price". The Son from heaven made Himself of no reputation. He girded Himself with a towel, stooping lower than Abigail, who washed the feet of the servants of David her lord. Here, David’s Lord, who was born King and before whom every knee shall bow, voluntarily washed the feet of His own servants. What sublime grace and humility! The Lord of Glory was "clothed [girded] with humility". The lowly Man, who stepped into service among ruined mankind preaching the gospel to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, preaching deliverance, restoring sight to the blind and liberating the bruised, is the Lord the King of Glory.

He walked in condescension among men as the pilgrim Servant, His loins girded with compassion, while owning the dignity and destiny of Deity. How blessed: the Pilgrim’s girdle was gilded with divine glory. "A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory" (Mt 12.20). Our Lord from heaven imparts His glory to every position He takes in grace, eloquently seen in Him as the pitying Servant, who with groaning and tears ministered to the grieving hearts of the sisters at Bethany. He is the Servant of tears, girded with sympathy, yet Deity, for He is "the resurrection and the life".

As a child He found "favour with God and man", but as the Servant He was hated of men because His holiness reproved their evil. He was the perfect Servant in an imperfect world; a perfect Servant in person and in pattern according to divine holiness. His condescension coalesces with His holy Sonship – "that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Lk 1.35). A hireling serves his master for remuneration; a son serves his father unto his reputation. Who but the Holy Son can serve the reputation of the Holy Father with the needed moral devotion, dignity, and diligence? We never read of the Son serving Himself, but always serving the moral glory of the One who sent Him, for as the Father knows the Son, even so the Son knows the Father, and, "I do always those things that please him" (Jn 8.29). What eternal blessings are gathered and secured by the Servant-Son girded with holy devotion in His declaration to the Father - "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do" (Jn 17.4).

God who knows the end from the beginning declared aforetime His divine approbation for His servant-Son: "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Ps 110.1). He sits enthroned because He stooped into humanity and humility to become the pierced Servant, girded with obedience - obedience unto death, "even the death of the cross". The compass of divine grace and glory is seen in the girded Nazarene, in that He "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mt 20.28; Mk 10.45). He is now the Man in heaven, the princely Servant, exalted far above the yet lingering rabid cry: "We will not have this man to reign over us". He is the coming Prince; the Son of man in judicial glory, "girt about the paps" with the invincible golden girdle of sovereign Deity. The Nazarene is there also as the priestly Servant, garlanded with the indispensable "curious girdle of the ephod" for glory and for beauty - the gold, blue, purple, scarlet and fine-twined linen redolent of His personal and high-priestly glories. Our adoration is further claimed by the girded Nazarene, who "glorified not himself to be made an high priest", but is made an high priest of the Melchizedek order by prophetic fulfillment and divine precept - for "the Lord hath sworn" it. It is of divine pedigree. He is called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek – King of Righteousness and Peace. It is a priesthood of divine preeminence, for the Melchizedek priesthood stands before and after the Levitical priesthood. It is a perpetual priesthood. He is a "high priest forever," "having neither beginning of days, nor end of life".

Peter, who especially knew of the grace and glory of the girded Servant, declared, "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious" (1 Pet 2.7). The girded Nazarene is a precious Servant. Preciousness speaks of that which is prized above all because it is exceptional. Christ, the girded Nazarene, is the unique Servant for in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily - the only Begotten of the Father. He is singular in service, seen in His divine prerogative and power as the Creator of all things; the Custodian of all things; Heir of all things; the Upholder of all things; the Subduer of all things; the Worker of all things. He has rivals; but He has no equal, save within the Godhead. In Him therefore we have "exceeding great and precious promises". Preciousness also speaks of that which is singularly prized because it is indispensable. The girded Nazarene has no substitute among heaven’s hosts neither among the sons of men. So Peter testifies: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God" (Jn 6.68-69). The indispensable ground of our salvation is the precious blood of Christ. Therefore, "neither is there salvation in any other". There is laid in Zion "a chief corner stone, elect, precious" (1 Pet 2.6).

Preciousness speaks too of that which is dependable. The girded Nazarene is precious for He said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee". How sublime, that during His rejection we not only hear His obedient resignation unto the Father, but His blessed invitation - not provoked from His exalted glory, but according to His grace as the towelled servant - "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Mt 11.28-29). Can we doubt then the gracious sequel, that our God will supply all our need "according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus?".

The defining quality of preciousness however is desirability. The object is prized above all for itself – its inherent beauty peculiar to the eye of the adoring heart. Unto us therefore who believe – He is precious! Such an enterprise is reserved for a heart that has beheld something of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It traces the stoop and step of humility of the girded Nazarene. It observes the progressive stain of man’s hatred upon God’s girded Servant - the sneer, the sedition, the stripes and the suffering on the cross. It confesses that it was for me, for me alone, and bows before His feet, crowning Him Lord of all. "My soul was precious in thine eyes" (1 Sam 26.21). How precious we are to Him and He is to us, our tongues can never tell; but may they never cease in the telling of the girded Nazarene who was rich, but through matchless grace became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich (2 Cor 8.9). He is above all, "chosen of God, and precious".



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