Deuteronomy 15:12, 16-17 reads:
If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free. But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family 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.
After six years the master knocks on the room of the servant one evening. The master has put off the conversation for weeks but knows he must free his servant. He sits down, and the conversation begins with an awkward pause.
I appreciate what you have done for me, but you have served me for six years. You are now free to go.
The servant has anticipated the conversation because he knows the law as well. He already has the response formulated in his mind. . . .
Master, I do not want to leave you. Where else would I go? I love you and your family. I want to stay with you for the rest of my life. I want everyone to know that I am your servant and I am bound to you for the rest of my life. I am going to serve your family faithfully.
Together the master and servant walk to the tool room. The master takes the awl and pierces the servant’s ear, marking him. The two embrace, and their relationship is now deeper than ever before. The marking proves that the servant is with the master willingly, serving out of love and not mere obligation.
The master served the servant by adopting him as a family member. The expression of love forever marked the servant. The servant agreed to be marked externally because he was already marked internally through the relationship to his master.
In the same way the foundation of Christ’s command for us to serve others is that He has served us. He told His disciples, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14 NIV).
What Christ did for His disciples in the upper room is a snapshot of what He has done for us. He took off His royal robes, humbled Himself, stooped down to our level, placed Himself in a human body, and served us by dying for us (Phil. 2:5–8). Just as the master rescued the servant from a hopeless existence, our Master has rescued us.
He asks us to serve others in response to His service to us.
Adapted from Identity (2008, B&H Publishing Group)