“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
JESUS IS SET APART FROM THE FOUNDERS OF OTHER WORLD RELIGIONS
Jesus came not to be served but to die, to give his life. That sets him apart from the founders of every other major Religion. Their purpose was to live and be an example; Jesus’s purpose was to die and be a sacrifice. All the founders of every major world Religion are essentially teaching people how to “scale the mountain and reach God.” When Jesus says, “I have come to die” instead of “I was born to die” this a strong giveaway that he existed before he was born: He came into the world. By saying “did not come to be served,” he assumes that he had every right to expect to be honored and served when he came, though he did not exercise that privilege. Unlike the founders of major Religions, Jesus is the one who came down the mountain, not to show people how to scale the mountain of God, but to carry them up by His own strength. That’s good news. But how does he carry us up the mountain?
JESUS CAME TO DIE AS OUR SUBSTITUTE
The final phrase, “to give his life as a ransom for many” sums up the reason why he has to die. Jesus came to be a substitutionary sacrifice. Jesus came to serve. Consider the little preposition “for” in the phrase “a ransom for many.” In Greek it’s the word anti, which means instead of; in place of; substitute.
What about “ransom”? I think of a Mel Gibson movie. Not The Passion of the Christ- it’s actually called “Ransom.” We tend to only use that word in our culture when we’re talking about kidnapping or something like that. But, it is the Greek word lutron, that meant “to buy the freedom of a slave or a prisoner.”
Jesus is saying, “I came to the earth to pay the price of your freedom from sin and death by becoming your substitutionary sacrifice.”
But, if God is really a loving God, why doesn’t he just forgive everybody? Why did Jesus have to go through suffering unto death? Why did he have to be a ransom? Tim Keller answers those questions like this (I believe he’s hit the nail on the head): “Jesus didn’t have to die despite God’s love; he had to die because of God’s love. And it had to be this way because all life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice.”
Think about that. All life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice. Let’s explore this idea for a moment.
FRIENDSHIPS & SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE
We all know what it’s like to have a relationship with someone. It takes hard work. There’s baggage. There are deep hurts from their past or present that they bring with them. To be a good friend it takes you listening, helping, giving, taking time; and it’s draining. You can’t truly love people without taking a hit yourself. Somehow their problems transfer to you; their struggles become yours. How are people going to be comforted? How are people’s hurts and struggles going to ease off? By you taking on those hurts and struggles- then the hurting and struggling person starts to recover. Why is this so? Because, the only way to truly love someone is through substitutionary sacrifice.
PARENTING & SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE
Now, I’m a new parent, so I’m operating off of logic and perception more than experience. From what I’ve seen, It takes hard work. It takes time. You don’t have to teach and train your kids how to be bad. You do, however, have to teach and train them how to act good. To be a good parent you can’t just throw money at your kids and answer “yes” to your everything they ask (most would agree that does more harm than good). Good parenting takes the sacrifice of your time and energy in order to invest in your kids; to help develop them into maturing young men and women that will be equipped to go out into the world and function well in society. Sadly, a lot of parents don’t want to make that sacrifice. But don’t be fooled. In the end someone has to pay the price. Either parents suffer temporarily and in a redemptive way, or the kids are going to suffer tragically in a wasteful and destructive way.
Whether it’s the parents or the kids, someone has to pay.
Again, I like Tim Keller’s comment on this idea:
“We know that anybody who has ever done anything that made a difference for us—a parent, a teacher, a mentor, a friend, a spouse—sacrificed in some way, stepped in and accepted some hardship so that we would not get hit with it ourselves. Therefore it makes sense that a God who is more loving than you and I, a God who comes into the world to deal with the ultimate evil, the ultimate sin, would have to make a substitutionary sacrifice.”
WHY DO WE NEED JESUS’ SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE?
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
The Bible says that we are all born under the curse of sin, and we inherited that sin nature from our first Dad, Adam. So, think with me for a few moments. Let’s work this idea out. Imagine yourself falling from the sky. This is how you were born: falling, falling, falling to your inevitable destruction. Every attempt to become better or moral or religious; every attempt to find your own truth or become enlightened is like pulling a parachute. But these parachutes are full of holes and don’t slow you down a bit. You’re still falling, whether you want to admit it or not. You can pull all of the chutes in the world, but it’s false hope and futile against the fall.
You need a substitutionary sacrifice.
The good news of Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice is that he jumped out of heaven and caught up to us. Jesus didn’t grab us and fly away, but positioned himself in between us and the ground. He absorbs the blow of the fall and we are spared- we are ransomed by a substitutionary sacrifice.
On the cross, Jesus substituted himself for his enemies so that He could make them His brothers and sisters- so that they could be born again as sons and daughters of God. This is the gospel. This is the good news of how Jesus succeeded where we have always and would always fail. What’s more, Jesus died by absorbing our blow, and then he resurrected to eternal life. He is alive! Jesus’ resurrection proves that he is who he says he is and did what he said he did. It’s the stamp of approval that “It is finished!”
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE THAT JESUS RANSOMED ON THE CROSS?
Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36
But how do you know if Jesus was my substitute on the cross? After all, in Mark 10:45, Jesus says “many.” Here’s how: If you hear and understand this good news and turn from trusting in yourself and start believing in Jesus- in the gospel. Trust that Jesus is who he says he is (God) and he did what he said he did (lived, died, and arose in your place to free you from sin). Turn from your sin of self-exaltation. You could never be good enough to warrant salvation. Turn from your sin of despair. Jesus was good enough for you; there’s no amount of sin that’s a match for his grace. Turn from self-exaltation and from despair and come to Jesus, trusting in his finished work on your behalf. The gospel humbles the proud, knocking them off of their high horse, but it also elevates the despairing, lifting them up out of the pit they think they will never be rescued from. With one move the gospel sweeps your legs out from under you and slides a pillow under you, so you can humbly fall on your face in worship and thanksgiving at your King’s feet.
Do you get this? If so, say this aloud, “Jesus is my substitutionary sacrifice!” If you’re in Christ by his grace through trusting in his performance on your behalf, this is true. Jesus is your substitutionary sacrifice.
The gospel says that you cannot remain high and mighty because it reveals your fallen nature, but you also cannot remain hopeless and despairing because it reveals how graciously loved you are in Christ.
The gospel is upside down to this world. The King of kings, at great cost to himself, served his people; the King went to the cross as our substitute. Now that’s good news.
If you see this and trust Christ, praise God! It’s all of grace. Make sure you get plugged in to a healthy, Bible-teaching, Jesus-exalting, God-glorifying, holiness-seeking, mission-minded local Church. Jesus saves people into a local Church. He doesn’t save us and leave us to do life alone.
Always seeking your joy,