God's love... "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (Joh 3:16)

The Son of Man Came to Give His Life a Ransom for Many 

Mark 10:45

            For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Introduction and Review: Don't "Serve" Jesus

we focused on the spectacular truth about the coming of the Son of Man—that he came NOT to be served, but to serve. The reason this is so important to see is that in the preceding verses Jesus had just laid some radical expectations on his disciples. He had told James and John that they would be required to drink the cup of his suffering (v. 39), and he had told the other ten disciples that, if they want to be great in the kingdom, they must become servant of all (v. 44). So he is expecting them to be radically different from the way humans ordinarily act. They are to serve each other and all people, even non-Christians, and in that service drink the cup of whatever suffering it will cost. And it will cost.

The Heart of Christianity

Now if that were the only message of Christianity, it would not be good news. There would be no gospel. I need more than for someone to tell me what I should do and should be. I need help to be that and do that. This is why Jesus says what he says in verse 45. "The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve." What a horrendous mistake it would be if we heard Jesus' call to be the servant of all in verse 44 as a call to serve him. It is not.

It is a call to learn how to be served by him. Don't miss this. This is the heart of Christianity. This is what sets our faith off from all other major religions. Our God does not need our service, nor is he glorified by recruits who want to help him out. Our God is so full and so self-sufficient and so overflowing in power and life and joy, that he glorifies himself by serving us.

He does this by taking on a human nature and seeking us out and then telling us that he did NOT come to get our service, but to be our servant. In other words, he is saying that the demand that we be servants and that we drink the cup of suffering in service—that demand is where he wants to serve us.

Jesus Wants to Serve Us

Here is a general truth I give you to ponder and believe: every time Jesus commands something for us to do, it is his way of telling us how he wants to serve us. Let me say it another way: The path of obedience is the place where Christ meets us as our servant to carry our burdens and give us his power. When you become a Christian—a disciple of Jesus—you do not become his helper. He becomes your helper. You do not become his benefactor. He becomes your benefactor. You do not become his servant. He becomes your servant. Jesus does not need your help; he commands your obedience and offers his help.

This is why becoming a Christian is a humbling thing. We admit that we need help. And we turn to Christ and say, "I can't be or do what I know I am supposed to be and do. I am desperate. I need something way beyond what is inside of me or in any other ordinary person. I need you. I turn to you. I have nothing to offer in trade or purchase. I trust you to show me mercy. I trust you to be my servant."

When we do that, when we submit to him in that way, Christ becomes our servant. And when he does, all of his other radical commands are no longer things we do for him, but things he enables us to do for others. The Christian life is a life of serving others in the strength that he supplies as our servant. It is loving others with the love he gives us as our servant. It is sacrificing and suffering with the hope and joy and patience that he gives us as our servant.

Christian living is walking in the shadow of our servant King. It is making sure that we stay in the path where he loves to serve his people—the path of faith and love.

I know that the apostle Paul called himself the "servant of Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:1). This is not a contradiction of what Jesus is teaching here in Mark 10:45. Jesus himself called us his servants in other contexts: "The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him" (John 13:16). The idea of servant is being used in two different ways. We are the servants of Jesus in that we submit to his authority and his right to tell us to do whatever he pleases. But we are not his servants in the sense that he needs our help and that his enterprise in the world is sustained by our energy. He is not our servant in the sense that we command him how to live. He is our servant in the sense that he uses all his divine resources to help us and strengthen us and guide us and support us and provide our needs.

He Gives to All Men Life and Breath and Everything

Acts 17:25 shows what is bad about "serving" God:

He is not served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.

In other words God does not want to be served in any way that implies we are supplying his need or supporting him or offering him something that he does not already own by right.

Therefore we simply cannot negotiate with God. We have nothing of value that is not already his by right. We cannot service him. His car never breaks down. It never runs out of gas. It never gets dirty. He never gets tired. He never gets depressed. He never gets caught in traffic so that he can't get to where he wants to go. He never gets lonely. He never gets hungry.

In other words, if you want what Jesus has to give, you can't buy it. You can't trade for it. You can't work for it. He already owns your money and everything you have. And when you work, it is only because he has given you life and breath and everything. All we can do is submit to his spectacular offer to be our Servant. And this submission is called faith—a willingness to let him be God. Trust him to be the Supplier, the Strengthener, the Counselor, the Guide, the Savior. And being satisfied with that—with all that God is for us in Jesus. That's what faith is. And having that is what it means to be a Christian.

Jesus Came "to Give His Life as a Ransom for Many"

But now let's take the specific act of Jesus' service that he mentions in Mark 10:45. "The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." Jesus came to "give his life as a ransom for many." This is what Christmas is about. He came. He did not come to be served. He came to give his life a ransom for many. Let's think about this act of service.

It Was Intentional

First of all, let it sink in that this act of giving his life as a ransom was intentional. It says he came to do it. Christ did not come to earth for other reasons and then get caught up in a plot that resulted in his death. He came to die. Hebrews 2:14 puts it plainly:

Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

Jesus came to die.

Look back in this very context to Mark 10:33–34. Jesus is on the road going up to Jerusalem. There is fear and amazement in the air, because everyone suspects something tremendous is going to happen. Jesus tells them what he is walking into, willingly:

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock Him and spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.

So Jesus is knowingly walking into the jaws of suffering and death. Verse 45 says why: He came to give his life a ransom for many. Don't miss this. Jesus is choosing to suffer. He is choosing to die. He is participating intentionally in his own execution.

His Death Is a "Ransom"

Now why is his death called a ransom? "The Son of Man came to give his life a ransom for many." Ransom is a good translation. The Greek word here (lutron) meant just that—a payment to release someone from some kind of bondage: prisoners of war, slavery, debt. So the implication is that Jesus sees his death as a ransom to release many from bondage. He is paying what they cannot pay so that they may go free. He is substituting himself for them. And at the cost of his life, they get freedom.

So this ransom is describing a substitution. Jesus in the place of the many. Sometimes people say that the word "for" doesn't have to mean substitution. "Ransom for many," they say, may only mean, "for the benefit of many," not, "in the place of many." But listen to this compelling word from Leon Morris:

Even if . . . we take the substitutionary meaning out of the preposition ["for" =anti], we have not taken it out of the passage, for the situation [in view] is one in which the many are condemned, their lives are forfeit. If Jesus gives His life "a ransom for many" and thereby they are released from their condemnation, then a substitutionary transaction has taken place, understand the individual words as we will. (Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross [Grand Rapids; Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1955], p. 36)

That seems exactly right to me. But what is the bondage or slavery that the many are in that they need to be ransomed from?

What Are "the Many" Ransomed From?

Jesus describes us in John 8:34 as enslaved to sin: "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin." He did not see us as occasionally sinning, but as under the power of sin. We are slaves of sin and we need to be ransomed from its power. But that's not the worst of it. Jesus taught that the penalty for sin is eternal punishment. In Matthew 25:46 he says, "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Sin brings the wrath of God. It brings judgment. If we don't find rescue from the guilt of our sin, we will be punished, Jesus says, forever, because sin is an infinite offense against an infinitely holy God. So the slavery and the bondage that we need ransoming from is the slavery of sin and eternal punishment.


Here are "the Many" redeemed by Christ. 

Isa 53:11  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Joh 1:12  But as many as received him,to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Rom 5:19  For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Rev 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Rom 5:15  But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. Joh 17:1  These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: Joh 17:2  As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. Joh 6:37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. Joh 10:15  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 

Joh 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Since their lives become new in Christ, they are called saints. 
  1.  Act 26:10  Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. 
  2. Acts 9:13 "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. Acts 9:12-14 (in Context) Acts 9 (Whole Chapter)
  3. Acts 9:32 [ Aeneas and Dorcas ] As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. Acts 9:31-33 (in Context) Acts 9 (Whole Chapter)
  4. Acts 26:10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Acts 26:9-11(in Context) Acts 26 (Whole Chapter)
  5. Romans 1:7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:6-8 (in Context) Romans 1 (Whole Chapter)
  6. Romans 8:27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. Romans 8:26-28 (in Context) Romans 8 (Whole Chapter)
  7. Romans 15:25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. Romans 15:24-26 (in Context) Romans 15 (Whole Chapter)
  8. Romans 15:26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Romans 15:25-27 (in Context) Romans 15 (Whole Chapter)
  9. Romans 15:31 Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to thesaints there, Romans 15:30-32 (in Context) Romans 15 (Whole Chapter)
  10. Romans 16:2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me. Romans 16:1-3(in Context) Romans 16 (Whole Chapter)
  11. Romans 16:15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them. Romans 16:14-16 (in Context)Romans 16 (Whole Chapter)
  12. 1 Corinthians 6:1 [ Lawsuits Among Believers ] If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints1 Corinthians 6:1-3 (in Context) 1 Corinthians 6 (Whole Chapter)
  13. 1 Corinthians 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 1 Corinthians 6:1-3 (in Context) 1 Corinthians 6(Whole Chapter)
  14. 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints1 Corinthians 14:32-34 (in Context) 1 Corinthians 14 (Whole Chapter)
  15. 1 Corinthians 16:15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, 1 Corinthians 16:14-16 (in Context) 1 Corinthians 16 (Whole Chapter)
  16. 2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia: 2 Corinthians 1:1-3 (in Context) 2 Corinthians 1 (Whole Chapter)
  17. 2 Corinthians 8:4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints2 Corinthians 8:3-5 (in Context)2 Corinthians 8 (Whole Chapter)
  18. 2 Corinthians 9:1 There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints2 Corinthians 9:1-3 (in Context) 2 Corinthians 9 (Whole Chapter)
  19. 2 Corinthians 13:13 All the saints send their greetings. 2 Corinthians 13:12-14 (in Context) 2 Corinthians 13 (Whole Chapter)
  20. Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 1:1-3(in Context) Ephesians 1 (Whole Chapter)
  21. Ephesians 1:15 [ Thanksgiving and Prayer ] For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saintsEphesians 1:14-16 (in Context) Ephesians 1 (Whole Chapter)
  22. Ephesians 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,Ephesians 1:17-19 (in Context) Ephesians 1 (Whole Chapter)
  23. Ephesians 3:18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,Ephesians 3:17-19 (in Context) Ephesians 3 (Whole Chapter)
  24. Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saintsEphesians 6:17-19 (in Context)Ephesians 6 (Whole Chapter)
  25. Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Philippians 1:1-3 (in Context) Philippians 1 (Whole Chapter)
  26. Philippians 4:21 [ Final Greetings ] Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. Philippians 4:20-22 (in Context) Philippians 4 (Whole Chapter)
  27. Philippians 4:22 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household. Philippians 4:21-23 (in Context)Philippians 4 (Whole Chapter)
  28. Colossians 1:4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— Colossians 1:3-5 (in Context) Colossians 1 (Whole Chapter)
  29. Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.Colossians 1:11-13 (in Context) Colossians 1 (Whole Chapter)
  30. Colossians 1:26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saintsColossians 1:25-27 (in Context) Colossians 1 (Whole Chapter)
  31. 1 Timothy 5:10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of thesaints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. 1 Timothy 5:9-11 (in Context) 1 Timothy 5 (Whole Chapter)
  32. Philemon 1:5 because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saintsPhilemon 1:4-6 (in Context) Philemon 1(Whole Chapter)
  33. Philemon 1:7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.Philemon 1:6-8 (in Context) Philemon 1 (Whole Chapter)
  34. Jude 1:3 [ The sin and doom of Godless men ] Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saintsJude 1:2-4 (in Context)Jude 1 (Whole Chapter)
  35. Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saintsRevelation 5:7-9 (in Context) Revelation 5(Whole Chapter)
  36. Revelation 8:3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.Revelation 8:2-4 (in Context) Revelation 8 (Whole Chapter)
  37. Revelation 8:4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand. Revelation 8:3-5 (in Context) Revelation 8 (Whole Chapter)
  38. Revelation 11:18 The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great— and for destroying those who destroy the earth." Revelation 11:17-19 (in Context)Revelation 11 (Whole Chapter)
  39. Revelation 13:7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. Revelation 13:6-8 (in Context)Revelation 13 (Whole Chapter)
  40. Revelation 13:10 If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saintsRevelation 13:9-11 (in Context) Revelation 13(Whole Chapter)
  41. Revelation 14:12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.Revelation 14:11-13 (in Context) Revelation 14 (Whole Chapter)
  42. Revelation 16:6 for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve."Revelation 16:5-7 (in Context) Revelation 16 (Whole Chapter)
  43. Revelation 17:6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.Revelation 17:5-7 (in Context) Revelation 17 (Whole Chapter)
  44. Revelation 18:20 Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.' " Revelation 18:19-21 (in Context) Revelation 18 (Whole Chapter)
  45. Revelation 18:24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of thesaints, and of all who have been killed on the earth." Revelation 18:23-24 (in Context) Revelation 18 (Whole Chapter)
  46. Revelation 19:8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)Revelation 19:7-9 (in Context) Revelation 19 (Whole Chapter)