Service as Honor: The Strange Calculus of Jesus

“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:25–26 HCSB)

Gerald Borchert in his excellent commentary on John in the New American Commentary series points out the cultural ramifications of what Jesus teaches here:

It is the faithful “servant” whom Jesus here says will be honored by the Father (12:26). In an ancient society where shame and honor were extremely significant, the promise of honor for one who accepts a role that has all the markings of little honor is another of the great paradoxes in the message of Jesus.

The calculus of Jesus is that honor from God will come when we give ourselves over to serving others, pretty much exactly the opposite of what both his culture and our’s believe.

Borchert continues:

 To love God so much means that God has become primary and human existence has become secondary. That was the model set by the self-giving Jesus, and that is the model Jesus calls Christians to follow.

Or, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it: When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die.

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