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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on July 24, 2016 under 2016 |

Message preached Sunday, July 24, 2016 from Mark 10:45

Theme: Jesus’ great act of service to us was to redeem us from our sins by becoming our substitute.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

I don’t believe that there’s anything more worthy of our time than to just think about Jesus—to meditate deeply on who the Bible tells us that He is, and to allow to sink in to our hearts how much it is that He has done for us. The more of our hearts that we permit to be occupied by thoughts of Him, the richer and more blessed we are.

This morning, I’d like for us to focus on just one verse in the Gospel of Mark about the Lord Jesus. It’s a very simple one. You can probably have it memorized by the time we are through. But it is an important verse for several reasons.

First, I believe it’s important because it is—as I would argue—the key verse to the whole Gospel of Mark. It’s Mark 10:45; and in it, Jesus Himself said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” And right there, you have the two main divisions of this wonderful Gospel account that we’ve been studying. In the first half of that verse, Jesus said that He came, not to be served, but to serve; and that’s the theme of the first 10 chapters of Mark’s Gospel—Jesus’ gracious work as the Servant of mankind. Throughout those chapters, we find the stories of the wonderful ways Jesus served people and met their needs. And in the second half of that verse, Jesus also said that He came to give His life as a ransom payment for many; and that’s the theme of Chapters 11 all the way to the end in Chapter 16—Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us as our Redeemer. Servant and Redeemer—that’s what Jesus is to us; and that’s what this Gospel declares to us.

Another reason this one verse important to us is because it summarizes to us the saving ministry of Jesus. It’s a small verse; but it is big on important theology. Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”; and in saying this, He not only declares the wonderful news of the substitutionary atonement God has provided through Him for our sins, but tells this to us in just a few words—and with all the authority of the Lord Jesus Himself. Some have called this verse one of the most precious statements of our Lord to the whole of the Christian church throughout the ages; and I tend to agree.

And there’s at least one more reason this verse is important. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”—giving us four great and essential affirmations about His saving work for us: (1) who He is; (2) how He has entered our world; (3) why it was that He came; and (4) what it was that He did for us. And dear brothers and sisters; if—as I hope to show as we go along—someone can believe with all their hearts in what it is that Jesus says in those four great affirmations, and can say a genuine “Yes, I believe it” to every one of them as accurately understood—then they will have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation!

You can see then why I think this verse is so important. You can see why it’s well worth our while to consider it carefully. And you can even see why it would be a good idea to even commit it to memory.

So; let’s get right into it.

* * * * * * * * * *

Context is very important with a verse like this. And over the past several weeks, we have been considering that context. You’ll remember that Jesus was—at this time—leading His disciples after Him as He was making His way to Jerusalem. It would be there that He would be betrayed, arrested, tried, beaten and mocked and crucified; and then—three days later—be raised from the dead.

But it was in the light of this clearly-expressed intention of our Lord that two of His disciples came to Him with a remarkable request. They wanted to be placed on either side of His throne of glory—one on His right and the other on His left—when He came into His kingdom. As we discussed in our previous times together, these two disciples were trying to elevate themselves above all the others; and become ‘great’ over them.

Jesus gently rebuked their wrong ambition. But then, He called all the others to Himself and turned the experience into an important lesson on true greatness. He told them;

You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).

So; Jesus’ words in this very important verse have a primary intention. They were meant by Him to serve as an illustration to His followers of the ultimate example of what it looks like to pursue true ‘greatness’ in the right way. No one could ever be greater than Jesus. And yet He—in all His greatness—came “not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”. And if we want to be great in His kingdom, then we need to humble ourselves down to become the kind of servant that our Lord became.

You can tell very plainly that this verse is meant to present us with an example. Jesus began it with the words “For even …”—as if to declare Himself to be a noteworthy example of what He was teaching His disciples. That’s made even more clear by the fact that when the Gospel writer Matthew tells this story, he quotes Jesus as putting it this way: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

So; we’d do a great disservice to this this verse—and to our own souls—if we didn’t understand it in terms of what the Lord Jesus intended it to be. In it, He is intentionally presenting Himself as an illustration of becoming truly great in His kingdom by serving others. But in telling us this, He expresses His own role as our example in such a way as to give us marvelous truths about His redeeming work for us. And my hope is that, this morning, we will draw those truths out one by one and consider them carefully. As we do, we will get to know Jesus better as our Servant-Redeemer, and learn to trust more accurately in what He has done for us.

And who knows? Someone here today may yet come to understand Him in such a way as—through the grace of the Holy Spirit—to believe on Him and be saved. I am certainly hoping and praying so!

* * * * * * * * * *

Let’s consider the first of these four great affirmations that Jesus makes about Himself in this verse; and that is …


The name by which He identifies Himself is “the Son of Man”. “For even the Son of Man,” He says, “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” That’s a name that is used over 80 times in the New Testament; and it is a name that the Lord Jesus used very frequently. I believe it was His favorite title for Himself.

But its application to Jesus has its roots in the Old Testament. You’ll find it in the book of Daniel. Daniel saw a vision of the kings and rulers of this world rising and falling in their positions of authority; and then, in Daniel 7:13, he wrote;

I was watching in the night visions,

And behold, One like the Son of Man,

Coming with the clouds of heaven!

He came to the Ancient of Days,

And they brought Him near before Him” (Daniel 7:13).

This was an Old Testament prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus Christ coming as King of kings and Lord of lords—the Chief of humanity. It’s a messianic term; and so it shows forth His divine authority—receiving that authority from “the Ancient of Days”; that is, from God His Father. But it also is a very human term—one that associates Him deeply with mankind. So I have come to believe that this name is meant to highlight Jesus to us as having divine authority—as the Son of God; but in such a way as to express that divine authority in terms of His full humanity—as the Son of Man.

You can put it this way. It is in and through the Person of Jesus alone—as the Son of Man; the divine Chief of humankind—that God, with all the authority of God, walks among mankind as one of us and has fellowship with us. Jesus—as the Son of Man—is our point of contact at which fallen mankind can have intimate contact with God and receive what we need from Him. I think an interesting way that Jesus showed this to us was on that occasion when there were folks who brought their friend to Jesus for healing. They lowered the man down the roof to Jesus. Do you remember? And instead of healing the man instantly, Jesus instead told the man that his sins were forgiven. People were very surprised by that; and even the Pharisees and scribes were outraged and scandalized by it. And that’s when Jesus said to them, in Mark 2:10, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—and He then turned to the paralyzed man and healed Him. Jesus walks on the earth in the midst of mankind as one who has the authority to forgive the sins of mankind and to give to mankind what we need. Only God—walking in the midst of humankind as the Son of Man—can do that!

And let me just suggest to you that unless you receive Jesus in that way—not as merely a man, but as the Man who walked on this earth as God in human flesh; with the divine authority of God to forgive the sins of mankind and to bless those who trust Him—then you’re not receiving Him in a saving way. He cannot be the Savior of mankind unless He comes to mankind with the divine authority of God Himself—as the Son of Man.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Now; that’s a first affirmation He makes about Himself—that He is the Son of Man. That’s who He is. But notice now a second affirmation He makes about Himself. This one concerns …


You see the remarkable hint of it in the fact that He says that He was “come” into the world. He said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve …”

Just stop and think of that! Who ever seriously speaks of their entry into this world as “coming” into it?—as if they had existed before they were born into the human family; and were actually born into it in the unusual way of “coming” into it from the outside? We don’t speak of ourselves that way, do we? We may say that we were “born” into the world; but we understand that we were born into the world as if from this world and as a part of it. But that’s not what Jesus said of Himself. He said He “came”—as if He was born into it from out of this world. This speaks of His incarnation.

Some folks might excuse this as simply a figure of speech. But the reason we can’t dismiss it as a mere figure of speech is because the Bible actually presents Jesus to us—in the clearest possible words—as actually, eternally existing before He came into the world, and as “coming” into it from outside of it. The apostle John begins His Gospel with these remarkable words of description of the Lord Jesus Christ:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:1-5).

This speaks of the Son of God—the eternal Word of the Father. And then, in verse 14, John says;

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (v. 14).

And the reason this is important is because this means that Jesus was born into the human family as the pre-existent Son of God from outside the human family. He was born into this world without ceasing to be God; and without having been touched or tainted by the guilt and sin of our first father Adam. He had no sin of His own; and was therefore qualified to pay price for the guilt of the sins of mankind. As the apostle Paul put it in Galatians 4:4-5;

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5).

And again, you and I must receive Jesus on those very terms in order to be saved by Him. We must receive Him, not merely as another man whose sacrifice inspires us, but as the sinless Son of God who truly became fully human in order to save us! He “came” for us!

* * * * * * * * * * *

And this leads us, thirdly, to consider …


As the Son of God who graciously condescended to be born into the human family as one of us, He came to serve us. As He Himself puts it, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve …” He eternally existed as the glorious King of heaven. But He did not come to be exalted and to be waited upon—even though His eternal identity would certainly make Him worthy of being exalted and served. Instead, He came in the form of a humble servant. And this shows us His great love for us.

We can see this in another story in the Bible about another time that the disciples argued among themselves over which of them was the greatest. (It’s an argument that, at this point, sounds all too familiar—which suggests that it was an argument they got into often.) It happened during our Lord’s last supper with them. It would have been on the very night that He rose from supper and washed their feet. What a display of service that was! The Gospel writer Luke tells us;

Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves (Luke 22:24-27).

No one at that table was greater than Jesus. In fact, no one on planet earth was greater than Him! And yet, He was among them “as the One who serves”. That was why He came to this earth. He came graciously to meet our need. It truly was a demonstration of love—not only of Jesus’ love for us, but of the love of the Father who had sent Him to us; because, as Paul puts it in Romans 5:8;

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

And once again, I suggest to you that, in order to be saved by Him, you must receive Jesus as One who comes to serve you and meet your greatest need. Your and my greatest need is to be saved from our sins; and that’s the need that Jesus came to meet. As it says in John 3:16-17;

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:16-17).

* * * * * * * * * *

So; Jesus tells us who He is—that is, the Son of Man. And He tells us how He entered into this world—that is, as one coming into it from outside. And He also tells us why He came—that is, not to be served, but to serve. And all of this leads us, finally, to consider …


He came not “to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” He came to pay the price that needed to be payed to free us from the guilt of our sin, and to make us righteous in the sight of His Father. He stepped into our place, and paid our debt on the cross in His own person and with His own life. This shows us His substitutionary atonement

The Bible tells us about this in so many different places. And it tells us this early in the Old Testament. In one of the greatest of all Old Testament passages about Jesus, Isaiah 53 tells us;

Surely He has borne our griefs

And carried our sorrows;

Yet we esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

We have turned, every one, to his own way;

And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:4-6).

It is the great theme of the New Testament. The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus and said;

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

I doubt you could see it more clearly that you find it at the end of 2 Corinthians 5; where we’re told,

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).

And once again, dear brothers and sisters; this is essential to believe. You and I may not necessarily have to understand all of the intricacies of theology in order to be saved; but somewhere along the way, we absolutely must come to understand that Jesus died on the cross for us and in our place—and absolutely must so believe it as to personally place our faith in what He did in order to be right with God.

* * * * * * * * * *

So; can you see how important these things are that Jesus tells us in this one little verse? They are essential things—the things that we truly need to know and believe in order to be saved.

I hope you believe them and embrace them. And if you have not done so before, I hope you will now. And I even hope you’ll commit this wonderful verse to memory. It should be the source of much joy and happiness to us; and the more we think about it and ponder it, should be the cause of great love to our Servant-Redeemer Jesus. As He Himself tells us;

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

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