“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Humans are addicted to purpose. We can’t live without it…literally. Right now our culture is in the midst of a crisis. I’m not talking about Covid. We are in the midst of a crisis called “deaths from despair.” It started before Covid, takes nearly as many lives as the pandemic did, but unlike the virus, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. A death from despair happens when a person ends his life either intentionally or incidentally by taking actions intended to escape a sense of hopelessness, purposelessness, meaninglessness that has taken hold of his heart. Purpose matters. A lot. Well, here Jesus reveals the purpose of His coming. Let’s pay attention to what He has to say.
Jesus was God. The God who created the world and everything in it. They were one and the same person, two persons of the Trinity. As such, He had every right to come and be served. We were His creations and thus we lived at His beck and call. If any one of us came with such a distinction, we would quickly demand the very thing we deserved. Notoriety has a tendency to get a person accustomed to receiving it.
But Jesus didn’t come to be served. He came to serve. Jesus had all the advantages in the world being who He was (and is). In spite of that, He didn’t come for His own good. He came for our good. He came to serve us. Now, He goes on to say something of earth-shattering importance next, but this one idea is pretty huge. There is an implication to this that we cannot afford to overlook. If He came to serve, and if we are counted as His people, we should be living our lives to serve as well. Let me put that another way. If the Lord of all creation came with the expressed purpose of serving us, there can be no bottom floor to our service of others if we are to be called His people.
He did not just come to serve, though. There’s more than that. He came to give up His very life. The author of life came to give up His life. And why? To serve as a ransom for many. What does that mean?
Well, a ransom is a price paid to free someone or something from bondage. In the recent Colonial Pipeline hack, the company paid about $5 million to the hackers to release their data so the pipeline could operate normally again. The data was in bondage and that money was the price of its freedom. Drug cartels and other gangs in Latin America run a fairly lucrative business of kidnapping people and demanding a ransom from their families for their safe return.
Okay, but what kind of bondage was this “many” in? This group—which includes you and me, so we can just say “we”—was in bondage to sin. The difference here, though, is that we put ourselves in this bondage voluntarily. No one forced us into it. We walked into it in full control of our decision-making capabilities. But once we were in, we were in. There was no going back. The doors only opened one direction. And while it may have looked good from the outside in as sin always does, it was Hell on the inside.
Then came Jesus. The only way out of the Hell of sin was to give our lives back to the God from whom they were taken. He made us and thus owns us. We stole ourselves from Him and thus owed Him a debt—ourselves. We could have paid this debt, but only once, and then we would have been dead…because we wouldn’t have had our lives anymore. Thus the bondage.
Then came Jesus. He came to not only serve us in spite of the infinite superiority and authority He has over us, He came to give up His own life to pay the ransom necessary to purchase our freedom from the slavery we were in. That was His purpose. His purpose was always about us. It was about loving us. It was about loving us so much that He was willing to die in our place so that we could have life and hope and purpose; the purpose we needed to survive and thrive.
This, my friends, is the Gospel. God came to serve us and give His life so that we may live. If you haven’t embraced it yet, I wish that you would. It has the power to drive back the sin and brokenness and despair that otherwise make a play for your heart. It will give you purpose and meaning you won’t find anywhere else. This is good news. The best news ever. Say, “Yes,” to Jesus and find out just how good it really is for yourself.