“The right perspective, to come face-to-face with Jesus, is on our knees,” said Pastor David Mainse, who was described by Christianity Today as “Canada’s Top Trusted Televangelist.”
Barbara and I had barely met David and Norma Jean Mainse when, upon learning that we lived in Kerrville, he asked us to follow him across the extensive atrium lobby of Crossroads TV Headquarters. We were in Canada to honor the 50th anniversary of Crossroads Christian Broadcasting, located near Toronto, Canada.
What Pastor Mainse passionately wanted to share with us was the special joy he received every time he got on his knees to gaze into the face of Jesus depicted in “The Divine Servant,” sculpted by Kerrville artist Max Greiner Jr.
The majesty of Jesus truly came alive when I kneeled with Pastor Mainse and observed the face of Jesus from a position of adulation.
Over the years, I have shared this “right perspective” story with many visitors to The Empty Cross, as they approach “The Divine Servant.” This parable always seems to resonate in a special way within their hearts.
Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom expressed looking at Jesus this way, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”
Greiner’s touching composition depicting Jesus Christ in the “upper room” is symbolic of Christ’s humility and servanthood. That night, as Jesus tried to distill the essence of his entire ministry, is described in the Gospel of John 13:1-17. Jesus first explained His life, death and resurrection through the “Lord’s Supper.” Then, He began to wash the disciples’ feet to teach them a new paradigm about living lives of humility and service to others.
As Jesus approached Simon Peter, He was first met with rejection, and the artwork captures the exact moment when Peter finally submits and allows Jesus to wash his feet.
Greiner provides this background: “I depicted Peter as a strong, muscular man, who is tense and uncomfortable, as Jesus begins to wash his feet. Jesus, by contrast, is portrayed as strong and lean, totally in control of the situation, determined to complete His earthly mission. He knows that He must endure the cross in a few hours. The face of Christ is hidden by His hair in the composition, adding to the mystery of the work. To see the face of Christ, one must first kneel down. The world has never known a greater example of love and humility than when God knelt down and washed the dirty feet of His creation.”
The Gospel of John adds an explanation and promise: “When Jesus had washed their feet … He said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? … I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. … If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
The Greek word for “blessed” means receiving divine aid or protection. Divine aid that makes possible our enjoyment of peace, tranquility and joy. As Luke recounts Saint Paul in Acts 20:35, “I’ve left you an example of how you should serve and take care of those who are weak. … Cherish the words of our Lord Jesus, who taught, ‘Giving brings a far greater blessing than receiving.’” (The Passion Translation)
Prevailing world views suggest we will be happiest when we get all we can get, yet Jesus says we will be happiest when we give all we can give. Like an elusive butterfly, if we seek happiness on our own, it will elude us. Instead, the symbolism of “The Divine Servant” suggests that when we serve others through the right perspective of Jesus, then true happiness will be our blessing, promising that by following Jesus’ example of “The Divine Servant” we receive divine blessing.
Fortunately, you can enjoy the opportunity to symbolically come face to face with Jesus at Kerrville’s Empty Cross, where the life-size “Divine Servant” is on display. When you kneel, you will be in the right perspective to look into the face of Jesus and remember that His symbolic acts as a servant were intended to teach each of us that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Jeff Anderson is Servant Pastor of SERV Kerrville, a nonprofit collaborating with community partners to empower lifelong learning. He welcomes your comments at Jeff@Leadershipinc.us.