family serving November 1 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): John 12:20-50; John 12:1-11; Mark 14:1-11; Matthew 26:1-16; Luke 22:1-6

To Serve or be Served?

In America we live in a “Me” generation. Cars, homes, clothing, food, entertainment, and even people are for “my” comfort, “my” looks, “my” reputation, and what will make “me” happy. There are, however, those who serve their community and nation with unselfish motives, and we appreciate their sacrifices and service. Jesus also lived a life of sacrifice and service, not for any glory or praise of his own, but for the glory of his Father in heaven, the Almighty God of the universe.

Jesus' days on earth were used in serving people. He healed and did many miracles while teaching people about life and godliness, and he warned them about false teachers. He often worked long days with people constantly crowding him and never giving him a moment’s peace. Jesus used every opportunity, free or not, to teach his twelve disciples. He loved them and gave them all he had.

Now as his sacrificial death draws near, Jesus informs his disciples of his unselfish mission and encourages them to follow his example.

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?” No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. “Father glorify your name!” (John 12:23-28, NIV)

Jesus’ purpose is to fulfill the will of his Father in heaven, i.e., to be crucified on the cross to save humanity from all their wrongdoing and provide spiritual life by his perfect sacrifice. He could seek to preserve his life, but Jesus does not do that. He could seek popularity and positions of power, but Jesus does not do that. Instead, he chooses to become as a seed planted into the ground, which dies to give new life and an abundant harvest. This abundant harvest will include people who believe Jesus died for them in their place to give them spiritual life. Jesus can give any of us spiritual life if we, in genuine faith, trust him to save us from all our wrongs (more...). After Jesus leaves this earth, his disciples will sacrifice their very lives to bring us the good news of salvation through him (recorded in the book of Acts).

Six days before the Passover Feast, the time of his coming death, Jesus and his disciples are invited to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They hold a feast in his honor, perhaps in gratitude for Jesus raising their brother Lazarus from the dead. When Jesus comes, Mary does a very unselfish thing; she takes a bottle of expensive perfume, anoints his head and feet, and then dries it with her hair. What a waste! thinks Judas Iscariot.

“Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages,” he said. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the moneybag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (John 12:5-8, NIV).

Judas Iscariot is disgusted with losing an opportunity for making money. He is selfish, unthankful and greedy. He goes to the chief priests and offers to deliver Jesus into their hands for thirty pieces of silver, the compensation price for a slave gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32). Judas Iscariot is a traitor, and he does not think Jesus’ life is of much value. Is Christ of much value to us?

Lessons to Live By

  • Jesus came to do, not his own will, but the will of the Father. Whose will are we seeking to please?
  • Jesus calls his disciples to a life of sacrifice and service, not comfort. Are we seeking a life of comfort and ease? Then, we are not seeking Christ.
  • There are things of much greater value than money—eternal things (more...). Let us not be selfish. Let us give our all to Christ.

Focus Verses

John 15:12-14 (NIV) “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

Here is a song to go with today's Bible study: A Little More Like You

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to

A Look Ahead: Judas, seeing there is no profit in following Jesus, decides to betray him. Jesus, on the other hand, shows us how to love others. Learn more in our Next Lesson called Love and Betrayal.

Previous Lesson  |  Next Lesson

Back to top of page
Return to Chronological Bible Studies main page
Go to Scriptures main page
Go to Topics main page
Go to Home page

Contact Us