9 Characteristics of Jesus as a Servant

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9 Characteristics of Jesus as a Leader 9 Characteristics of Jesus as a Servant 9 Characteristics of Jesus as a Teacher

78-9-052114-akpCharacteristics of Jesus as a Servant

Jesus Christ laid aside his Majesty to come to earth to show us the love of God. This action shows the characteristics of Jesus as a servant-leader.

There is no doubt that when Christ came to earth he also revealed his skills as a leader, however; his example as a servant cannot be ignored.

Jesus’ ministry has a strong foundation in servanthood. On one occasion, he told his disciples,

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13)

These are the words of a true servant.

Christ’s life and death on the cross are the supreme example of his commitment to being a servant. There are several passages of scripture within the Bible that define the servant role of Jesus.

Here are 9 characteristics of Jesus as a servant to consider.


  1. Isaiah Describes the Messiah (Jesus) as a Servant

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah speaks of the coming “Messiah” as a servant. In his writing, the prophet points out the characteristics of a servant-leader.

Isaiah wrote,

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness, he will bring forth justice;
he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” (Isaiah 42:1-4, NIV)

In these words, the prophet is pointing out the unique characteristics of a servant-leader.

  1. Jesus Describes Himself as a Servant in His Teaching

In three of the Gospels, Jesus refers to himself and his ministry in the world. In these three passages of scripture, Christ lays out the characteristics of true servanthood.

  • “ 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 (NIV)
  • “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. – John 6:38 (NIV)
  • “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” – Luke 22:27 (NIV)

Jesus points out in these three scriptures basic truths about servanthood –

  • A true servant does not seek to be served
  • A true servant aims to serve others
  • A true servant does not aim to do his own will
  • A true servant does not promote himself
  1. Jesus Shows Himself as a Servant By His Actions

One of the strongest examples of the servant attitude of Jesus can be seen when he washes his disciples’ feet in John, chapter 13.

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

The idea of being a servant is not always accepted by those around us. Simon Peter had a very difficult time in allowing Jesus to wash his feet. This action was the role of the “servant.” Jesus made it clear to Simon that this was the foundation of all that he had been teaching the disciples.

  1. The Apostle Paul Describes Jesus as a Servant

In his letter to the first-century church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul had this to say about the servant role of Jesus,

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” – Philippians 2:6-7 (NIV)

Paul also taught the early Christian believers that servanthood and humility work together. He wrote about the example that Jesus set.

 “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:8 (NIV)

Paul points out to the believers that Christ’s example of servanthood is one of the most powerful messages of the New Testament church.

  1. Jesus Was Not a Self-Promoting Servant

Jesus had several opportunities to promote himself. He never did. The Gospel of Matthew tell a story of how Jesus had every opportunity to promote himself but refused to do it. One of those stories can be seen here in the Gospel of Matthew.

9Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him. 11 And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

15 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, 16 and warned them not to tell who He was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

18 “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen;
My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased;
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 “He will not quarrel, nor cry out;
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
20 “A battered reed He will not break off,
And a smoldering wick He will not put out,
Until He leads justice to victory.
21 “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.” – Matthew 12:9-21

  1. Jesus Taught His Disciples That Greatness is Found in Servanthood

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Matthew 20:25-28 (NIV)

  1. Jesus, as a Servant Leader, Taught That Humility and Servanthood Cannot be Separated

Jesus said to his disciples in the Gospel of Matthew.

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:3-4 (NIV)

  1. Jesus Praises the Character of a Trusting Servant

Real and powerful servanthood starts by recognizing the power of others. A centurion soldier came to Jesus asking for help. Matthew records the story.

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” – Matthew 8:5-10

This story has a significant meaning.  Here is a soldier who has authority and power at his fingertips; yet, he placed himself under the authority of Jesus. This encounter with this soldier impressed Jesus. This man was willing to place himself under the authority and leadership of Jesus much like a servant.

This centurion is a perfect example of humble servanthood.  Jesus even said, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”

  1. Jesus as a Servant Leader is a Powerful Example to Follow

9 Characteristics of Jesus as a Servant and a Leader
9 Characteristics of Jesus as a Leader

When thinking about the servant style of Jesus it would benefit any leader to follow his example. John Stott put it this way,

“The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.”

This is exactly the example that Jesus set for those who are willing to follow Him.

Dale Roach

9 Characteristics of Jesus as a Leader 9 Characteristics of Jesus as a Servant 9 Characteristics of Jesus as a Teacher
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