The Servant’s Ransom

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45).

- Mark 10:42-45

Fundamental to the metaphor of God as Deliverer or Redeemer is the idea that He does something for someone else. When they were in bondage under the hard slavery of Egypt, the Israelites were unable to find their way out from under their load themselves. The Lord had to intervene on their behalf and rescue them by His mighty power (Ex. 6:1–8). Fallen people cannot escape the ultimate exile from God’s blessing but have to rely on His willingness to stoop to our level and enact redemption on our behalf (Ps. 130). Out of His sheer grace, the Lord did what we cannot do — He did a service for us in bringing us salvation.

Hard as it may be to comprehend, God works for us in our salvation. We must be very careful when we talk about this unfathomable love, for it would be a great blasphemy indeed to presume upon the grace of the Almighty, who took the form of a servant in our stead (Phil. 2:7). Nevertheless, there is a sense in which the Lord serves us when redeeming us, for He does a great work for us, saving we who cannot save ourselves. This service is not something that we command but merely receive by faith. Paradoxically, God is both a master and servant in saving us from sin. The Father orders His Son to serve the needs of His people and lay down His life, and the Son submits to His Father to accomplish this plan. We rest on the person and work of the great Servant and get to enjoy all of the benefits that He has earned for us (Rom. 5:1–11).

It is in God’s very nature to rank the needs of His people among His chief concerns, although He does even this for His own glory. When we see Jesus’ willingness to humble Himself even to the point of death, we see the very character of God and His love for His children, a love that gives its all for undeserving sinners that He might receive all the glory (Phil. 2:5–11). The Son humbles Himself to serve because that is what God is like — that is the kind of being that God is.

Thus, Christ spoke often of Himself as a servant, calling His disciples to emulate His example (Mark 10:42–45). The Father gave us over to slavery to sin, and Jesus paid the ransom price to Him that we might be liberated and freed from exile (v. 45). Of course, we cannot do this great act for others, but we can put others before ourselves and point them to the great Servant and His deliverance.

Coram Deo

It truly boggles the mind to think that the sovereign Lord of creation became incarnate to perform a great service for us — the paying of the ransom price to release us from bondage to sin. Such a gift can never be repaid, but we can thank Him if we bow to Him, the glorious Suffering Servant, and imitate His willingness to sacrifice Himself for others. For whom are you sacrificing your time and energy this week?

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 68:20
Daniel 6:25–27
Luke 12:35–40
John 13:1–20

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