Matthew 20: The Value of Servanthood

“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…” -Matthew 20:26

Jesus repeatedly reminds his followers in Matthew of the need to live as a servant. Why does Matthew focus on this? First, he likely had lived a very selfish lifestyle before following Jesus. He was a tax collector consumed with making money and willing to turn against his own people to work for the occupying government. But when he met Jesus, everything changed. His life became about helping others, not using them.

Second, Matthew probably mentions servanthood a lot because Jesus talked about it a lot. This teaching appealed to the lower class of people who made up the majority of the crowds who followed Jesus. Servanthood was also the corrective call to the religious elite who saw Jesus as a threat.

A third thought, however, is that as a person of Jewish background, Matthew rightly recognized Jesus as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. Jesus came to serve, called others to serve, and started a revolution of servanthood we know as Christianity.

When you see or hear the word Christianity, servanthood isn’t always what first comes to mind, but it’s a key value of the faith. Let us strive to live as those who bring attention to Jesus through how we serve, and not only by what we say.


Dillon Burroughs has written, co-written, or edited over 60 books, including the upcoming devotional work Thirst No More (October 2011). He served as an associate editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Find out more at

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