For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 () 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 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" = [Grand Rapids; Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1955], p. 36)], 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,
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?
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. BY DESIRINGGOD.ORG
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.