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A Ransomed Life

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Leading the Way

Iconic scene from the Patriot…retreat…carrying the flag…others see and turn back...
People with passion and drive can inspire and move people.
This message actually begins in v 31… I see it as an inclusio, even though our moden translations don’t lump them together.
v 32-34
Jesus and disc are on the road coming out of the Jordan River valley just north of the dead sea and are beginning their long climb up some 4,000 feet to Jerusalem.
Mark tells us in 32…walking ahead…amazed and afraid.
Why? Coming off the heals of Jesus’ teaching about God making what is impossible possible with relation to salvation…so they are still amazed at his teaching
But there is something else happening here…notice how Jesus is walking ahead. Mark makes that very clear…this is not some throwaway detail. They are amazed at his determination…afraid of his eagerness to go to Jerusalem. Remember, much of Jesus’ ministry has been outside of the spotlight of Jerusalem. He’s contended with scribes and Phar. as they have come to him…but in Mark’s gospel…now he is about to go into the hornet’s nest.
But this is no prisoner being drug in chains to his execution…no, this is Jesus leading the way. This is the suffering servant setting his face like flint…and they are amazed and afraid of his determination.
Seeing their reaction, he takes his disciples aside and for the third time in Mark’s gospel tells them of what is going to happen.
This is the most detailed of all the accounts…making known that the chief priests and scribes will turn him over to the Gentiles to be put to death. That is a clear message that he will be crucified. A condemned Jew being turned over to the Gentiles meant a death by cruxification. You can imagine the reactions after this as Jesus has just taught them what was going to happen then again sets off ahead of them toward the city.
In each of the 3 times Jesus foretells his death, the disciples respond in some human-centered way. The first time Peter rebuked Jesus for saying such things leading Jesus to say get behind me satan. 2nd time the disciples were found arguing among themselves about who was the greatest. Now this time, we come to the interaction between Jesus and the Sons of Zebedee.

Leading Away

v 35-42
It is clear that although the disciples often misunderstood Jesus’ words, something stuck…for they understood clearly that he was going to have a glorious kingdom.
Their request even before getting to the meat of their proposal was audacious…they were essentially asking for a blank check…we want you to give us whatever we want.
They ask to sit at his right and left…the highest places of honor in the kingdom. This follows Jewish rabbinical culture where the teacher would walk in the middle…his best disciple would be on the right…and the second best on the left. They were jockying for positions of power and prestige in the Kingdom.
And like so often we humans do…they frame their selfish request in the way of flattery. They honor Jesus while seeking to honor themselves. To request to be at his right and left is to say he has the place of honor…while also ascribing to themselves a lesser honor…but a significant one anyway.
But thanks be to God for unanswered prayer…at least unanwered in the way we think.
Jesus answers in v 38
Cup= something given by God…either blessing or judgement and wrath
cup of God’s wrath for sin…garden of geth.
Baptism= in context means his identification with sinners
The answer should be no…for only Jesus can do this…yet James and John answer “we are able”
Jesus’ answer is intriguing seeing as he just told them they cannot…but now says they will drink the same cup and be baptized. So, what is he saying? Well, Jesus is referring to their identification with Him in his suffering and identificaiton with sinners…that they will be united to him in his death, burial, and resurrection…and then live as his disciples enduing a life of suffering for His sake.
As for sitting at the right or left…Jesus deferrs that to the Father who grants such honor. The main point behind that is that places of honor in the kingdom is not the motivation for discipleship. Seeking to be the greatest will acually lead you away from the kingdom.
By now the disciples have caught onto what was being said and they were indignant. Now, don’t take this as a righteous indignation. They weren’t upset because James and John were asking something so terrible…they were upset because they had the audacity to ask him first! Remember, the disciples had already argued about who was greatest…and now their mad because two of them applied for the position!
So, Jesus calls them together to teach them…and he reminds them how the Gentiles do things. In other words…he reminds them of the way of the world. In the world leadership is all about power, control, position. In the eyes of the world the greatest are those who weild the most power, who have the largest following, who have status

Leading His Way

v 43-45
Verse 43 is very interesting. There’s a minor textual variation in it that though it doesn’t dramatically change the meaning makes for an interesting statment. In some of the oldest manuscipts, the verb “to be” is in the present tense…in the newer manuscripts it is in a future tense. So…is it… But it is not so among you…or but it shall not be so among you?
The slight difference in tense either means Jesus is pronouncing a declaration of how things are, or how they will be. Again, it does not dramatically alter the meaning…but I think the older manuscripts are on to something. Jesus isn’t casting this teaching into the future after his death and resurrection…He is speaking of a godly principle for the here and now....he is speaking of their reality. Whether they recognize it or not…the ones with the most earthly authority are actually not the greatest in the Kingdom…it is quite the opposite. Ironically…the one among them who in the eyes of the world was the weakest was Jesus himself. All the other disciples had something…a family, a home, a business, something to call their own. Jesus in his humanity didn’t even have a place to lay his head. He had nothing.
Jesus tells them…great, servant....first, slave. This is really remarkable teaching that I think gets lost on us. The great among them must be their servant. The word there is the word diaconas, where we get the word deacon. It means servant…like table servants.
But what is more shocking is his next statement…the first shall be a slave of all. The word he uses there is doulous…meaning bondservant…a slave…even lower class than the servant. This is someone who is almost not considered human, but considered property.
We miss the shock of that statement as good Christian readers of the Bible. We have a preconception about the word slave in Biblical context. We know Paul calls himself a slave of Christ…we know we’re told we are no longer slaves to sin. The edge of this statement has been somewhat rounded off for us. But, in their context what Jesus has just said is almost as shocking as the statement about the eye of the needle and the camel. This is a cultural impossibility. Being first means being a slave…and not just a slave to the King…but a slave to all?
V 45 begins with a “for” connecting his previous statement with his purpose for being in the world. He did not come to be served…but to serve. Jesus is showing them the ultimate example of what he is teaching is his own life. Jesus went as low as a human can go in order to ransom the many. You cannot get any lower as a slave than to be a perfect man hanging on a roman cross enduring the wrath of God for sins he did not committ.
The word ransom is much like the word for atonement…its a payment being made…a transfer. Who did Jesus pay ransom to?
In early church history it had been suggested Jesus paid a ransom to Satan. As the prince of the world…satan held humanity hostage. But, this is terrible doctrine and flat out wrong. Jesus paid satan nothing on the cross except a heafty heal to his head crushing him.
No, Jesus’ ransom was paid to the Father. Jesus satisfied the Father’s holy wrath against our sin…and he paid it in full. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
[21] For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

God Doesn’t Need Us

God is all sufficient…perfect within himself. He doesn’t need us…he didn’t need to create us. He wasn’t bored…he wasn’t lonely. He was and will always be complete within himself. Yet…for the sake of his glory…to demonstrate his glory, yes even to himself he did create us and he did create the universe. But the fact remains he didn’t need to, and doesn’t need us.
So when it comes to discipleship…our lives as disciples…really aren’t about doing stuff for God. He doesn’t need our service.
When we need service, it is because there is a need we have that we need someone else to meet. We go to a restaurant to get waited on…because we need them to bring the food someone else has cooked to us. If we can’t fix something, we hire someone else. In the extreme cases of the horrors of slavery in this world…the reason slaves existed was to serve their master…to meet some need of his.
But this isn’t so with God. He doesn’t need our service…he doesn’t need anything.
Acts 17:24–25[24] The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, [25] nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (ESV)
Our passage this morning told us that Jesus came not to be served but to serve.
So, what we’re learning is that being a disciple of Jesus…at its core…really isn’t about serving him…it is about him serving us. Does that make you uncomfortable? Maybe…we don’t feel worthy…well that’s grace! You aren’t worthy, but he’s done it anyway.
Piper said it this way: 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 we become Christians, we don’t become God’s little helpers…instead Jesus becomes our helper. He sends His Spirit to be our helper.
The humility of the Christian life…I’m helpless…I need you…I cannot give you anything, I can only be served by you. Wow!
Now, you may be saying…what about Paul calling himself a servant of Christ? Is Paul contradicting Jesus. No, Paul is using servant in a different way…speaking of Jesus’ ultimate authority over our lives. But Paul would never say Jesus needs our service for himself.
Christ becomes our servant, that’s at the heart of the gospel. 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.

The Church Needs Us

God doesn’t need us, but the church does. We are called to serve others…to serve our brothers and sisters.
Here’s a truth we all need to remember…the church does not exist for us…we exist for the church! The church does not exist for you, you exist for the church! Of course ultimately the church exists for the glory of God…but you know what I mean…our purpose is not to view the church as a means of gain for us…but as a means of service to our brothers and sisters.
So follow the logic here...
The World Needs Jesus
The greatest in the kingdom are those who are servants and slaves. Humility in service to one another comes from Jesus serving us though salvation and then empowering us by His spirit to obey God in serving others.
See that? As Jesus serves us, we serve others. It makes sense then why those who are humble and servants of people are those who are closest to Jesus.
Don’t miss that…discipleship is all about Jesus…about moving closer to him…and doing that involves being served by Him…and being served by Him leads to serving others. There is a chain here that is essential…it cannot be broken or messed with. Follow the chain back the other way…serving others in the strength and power of Jesus leads to a closer walk with Jesus.
Greatness in the kingdom is all abour servanthood…Jesus being the prime example…but also the source of our power by His Spirit.
But it is not only about serving our brothers and sisters, it is about the world Jesus came into.

The World Needs Jesus

He came to give his life as a ransom for many.
I wonder today, are you in the many?
Were you ransomed when Christ died?
Are you still under the guilt and power of your sin, or have you been set free?
Turn to ....
[13] Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (ESV)
Jesus has ransomed his friends…what a cut to the heart truth. So, this morning are you a friend of Jesus?
[13] Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (ESV)
What does it mean to be his friend?
Look at the next verse...
[14] You are my friends if you do what I command you. (ESV)
Notice what Jesus is saying here…this is not how you become his friend…this is what you do when you are…in other words…the evidence that you are living a ransomed life is that you are enjoying the freedom, power, and fruit of obedience to your king.
Now continue...[15] No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. [16] You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. [17] These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (ESV)
[14] You are my friends if you do what I command you. (ESV)
Jesus has come on a friend-making mission…to rescue those chosen by the father, to make them his friends that they would bear the fruit of obedience and love one another…being served be Jesus as they serve one another.
[15] No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. [16] You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. [17] These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (ESV)
[14] You are my friends if you do what I command you. (ESV)
Today is the day a beautiful friendship can begin...
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