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The Servant Heart of Christ: Delighted Even to Die

Do you delight in doing the will of God? Andy examines the servant heart of Jesus Christ.

by Andrew Davis on February 23, 2021

"I desire to do your will, O God; your law is within my heart."  - Psalm 40:8

There is perhaps no more excellent Scripture than Psalm 40:6-8 for capturing the essence of the servant heart of Jesus Christ. He was truly the "Servant of the Lord" that Isaiah prophesied would come. From the beginning, He made it clear what His heart was, saying "I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but to do the will of him who sent me" (John 6:38). His heart was constantly set on bringing delight to the Father by doing His will: "I always do what pleases him" (John 8:29). He couldn't even think of food without letting His heart come back to its true resting place: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work" (John 4:34). In Christ's hands, the will of God flourished like a beautiful rose set in fertile soil: "The will of the Lord will prosper in his hand" (Isa. 53:11). Jesus Christ lived to serve His Father, and it could rightly be said He would rather die than disobey His Father’s will.

All these Scriptures testify to the truth of Psalm 40:6-8. But Psalm 40 explains why. The heart of Jesus Christ beat for the law and will of God, and it brought Him DELIGHT to do what pleased the Father. Therein is the secret of Jesus Christ—He found His satisfaction and pleasure in pleasing God first. This is the purest form of obedience found in history—constant and delighted submission to the will and law of God. Verse 6 testifies to this in one of two possible ways, both powerful. The Hebrew text says "Sacrifice and burnt offerings you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced..." This means that God did not want a steady stream of animal sacrifices to purge an equally steady stream of sin. What did He want? "Pierced ears"! This refers to the portion of the Mosaic law which stipulated that a slave was free to leave in the seventh year of service if he wanted to. "But if your servant says to you 'I do not want to leave you' because he loves you... and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life" (Deut. 15:16-17). The pierced ear was for the servant who, out of love and contentment in his service, gives himself freely for life to the master. This is Jesus Christ!

The second possible translation of Psalm 40:6 says "Sacrifice and burnt offerings you did not desire, but a body you have prepared for me." This clearly puts the contrast between the animal sacrifices which could never remove sin and the body of the Servant of the Lord, which could. The main purpose of the Incarnation—the taking on of a human body by God the Son—was that He might give that body in total service to God through death on the cross. The "prepared body" of Jesus Christ is the measure of His servanthood, for it could hunger, thirst, tire, and feel immense pain. God the Son was fully aware of this when He accepted the body, yet He did it willingly, even joyfully. He poured out that body as a measure of His wholehearted obedience to the will of the Father, whose law was the delight of His heart. 

"Therein is the secret of Jesus Christ—He found His satisfaction and pleasure in pleasing God first."

In this, Jesus is our role model, for we also have ears and bodies to give in joyful servanthood. Christ followed the will of His Father all the way to the Cross. He was the perfect servant, not merely the appearance of a servant. Just as Christ offered His whole body in service to the will of God, so must we. Our hands, feet, mouths, eyes, minds, gifts, talents… everything is God’s for He made them. He desires that we follow the example of His Son, who lived and died to make the will of God prosper and flourish. Jesus was delighted in God and His will. Live that way, and your fruit will be abundant and eternal.

Tags: incarnation