The Ransom was Paid
During lent, we continue to consider the sacrificial role of Jesus as the suffering servant (Isa. 53).
1. Recognize the Context:
Historical and Immediate Context-
Jesus and the disciples were on their way to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32). Jesus predicted his death for a third time and final time, providing specific details (Mark 10:33-34). As if completely ignoring his words, James and John were quick to make a request of Jesus. They asked to hold positions of power as the messianic kingdom unfolded.
Jesus told them they had no idea what they were asking. He presented them with a question. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” They quickly affirmed their abilities. Jesus guaranteed they would experience this “cup” and “baptism,” but he was not the one to offer these positions of authority. This was up to the Father.
The "cup" imagery indicated hardship and suffering, with or without judgment (Isa. 51:17, Ps. 75:8, see also Mark 14:36). The analogy of "baptism" is not as we might initially think, for the forgiveness of sins. Here, baptism has the connotation of being immersed and overcome by trouble, like a person who is close to drowning (Ps. 42:7, Ps. 69:1-2).
The remaining disciples were indignant with the two position-seekers. Their anger did not arise from their understanding of what Jesus said and James and John's hopeless ignorance. Rather, based on their recent conversations (Mark 9:33-35) and the fact that Jesus had to address all twelve here (10:42), the other disciples were indignant because James and John asked Jesus before they had a chance.
2. Read the Scripture: Mark 10:42-45
42 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 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.”
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
Jesus did not rebuke the disciples for their misunderstanding or ambition. Instead, he took the opportunity to teach them. He provided them with a clear contrast of behaviors, using a prominent example from life experience.
In the Gentile governing structures, currently, the Roman empire, power and greatness came with authoritarian domination of others. However, in God’s Kingdom, it is precisely the opposite. Life in the Kingdom of God is characterized by service, even for the Messiah. For a true disciple, one gets to the top by going to the bottom.
Jesus provided the ultimate example of service as the messianic Son of Man. He came to serve and give his life as a ransom. The word ransom means “price of release.” In the Greco-Roman world, this word was used for the payment provided to be released from slavery or captivity. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, it was often used in reference to God’s redemption of Israel.
Here, in verse 45, the word ransom identifies Jesus’ messianic role as the costly substitutionary sacrifice. As the epitome of a servant, his followers must be characterized by servanthood and service (Phil 2:5-8).
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, prayerfully reflect on the price that was paid for your freedom from sin, death, and the power of the enemy,
Today, prayerfully consider your view of power and greatness. Are you being influenced by today's cultural standards?
Today, prayerfully consider what a life of service looks like.
To do: (Actions with the Holy Spirit's help)
Given the prayer suggestions above, how do you need to respond today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, and co-workers.
Identify a person or two in your life you can serve this week or in Lenten season. Write down specific ways you can help on a to-do list, and then follow through with these tasks.
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)
Read and study the passages listed above.