Jesus washing feet
Who was Jesus? And what was His purpose on earth?

In Mark 10:45, Jesus offers this answer: “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.”

What does that mean to us today?

As a Christian I am called to grow in the likeness of Jesus. Since He says that He came not to be served but to serve, then if I am to be like Him I will need to serve others as He did. If I am to grow in His likeness then a servant-like heart needs to grow in me.

Mark Labberton, the president of Fuller Seminary captures the essence of this well in his book, Called. He stresses,

“The heart of God’s call is this: that we receive and live the love of God for us and for the world. This is the meaning of the two greatest commandments, that we are made to love the Lord our God with all we are and our neighbors as ourselves. The Bible as a whole, and Jesus in particular, reveals what such a life looks like. Our call is loving communion with God and God’s world. It encompasses our identity, our community and our activity.

“Who are we? We are God’s chosen people, members of a community set apart for God’s purposes….

“Why are we here? We are here to love God and to love our neighbor….

“We are here to live in the world as agents of God’s love in Jesus Christ.” (p. 14-16)

That’s the heart of Christ-like servanthood: Loving God with all we are and loving those whom Christ gave His life for—loving them as we love ourselves!

The first part of Mark 10:45 identifies Jesus as a servant; the second part of the verse identifies Him as giving “His life as a ransom for many.”

What does this mean for us today?

I tend to think of a ransom in the context of a kidnapping: A ransom is what a parent pays to get her child back.

In 2004 I read in USA Today the story of Delimar Vera who was stolen from her home when she was just 10 days old. More than six years later she was found and returned to her mother.

David Fassler, a child psychiatrist and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont pointed out, “An unusual and tragic situation like this shakes the very core of a child’s sense of stability and predictability of the world around them. They’ve grown up in a family they think is their own. They have a home and school and friends, and suddenly everything they believe about their life is suddenly turned upside down.”

Sara Jaffee, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania added, “There are just so many changes this little girl has to face. I would be really surprised if this doesn’t take some toll on her.”

We easily recognize that when a baby is stolen from a crib and raised by a false mother then returned to her true mother six years later, one must anticipate and prepare for difficult readjustments.

I think something similar applies to the matter of Jesus ransoming us. We were created for intimate relationship with God, but because of sin we were stolen away from that relationship. We have been raised by a false “parent” who has raised us to approach life selfishly (even as Satan himself approaches life). We get used to living in the custom of the one who raised us, but it is the wrong way to live. When God reaches out to rescue us, we are restored to our rightful Parent. This is a joyous occasion, with even the angels in heaven rejoicing. But we must not assume that the transition is easy. We must anticipate and prepare for the difficulties a Christian will face in adjusting to his or her new life and new identity. One of those difficult adjustments is learning to live out the new family “likeness” of being a servant.

Servanthood doesn’t yet come naturally to me, but it is what I am called to since I have been ransomed by the One who came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.


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