The way things work in the Kingdom of God are drastically different than the kingdoms of this world. And we see this in the Gospel of Mark, as Jesus is the selfless servant and the sacrificial Savior.
The Gospel of Mark is a fast-paced account of the life and ministry of Jesus. As a summary of the Apostle Peter’s preaching, Mark presents Jesus as the powerful Son of God and the suffering servant. This was the first gospel, written in AD 55 in Rome to the Roman church.
In the first half of the book (chapters 1-8), we see the Servant’s service demonstrated through His ministry (1-2), His message (3-6), and His miracles (6-8). In the second half of the book (8-16), we see the Savior’s sacrifice.
And somewhere in the middle is the theme verse that culminates both of these truths of Jesus as servant and Savior:
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
The Selfless Servant
In the context of this passage (10:35-45), James and John did what all of us tend to do: try to be more important than others. They didn’t just want to be great, they wanted to be the greatest. They asked to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus when He reigns in glory, but they didn’t know what they were asking for. Apparently, the other ten disciples were mad that they would even bring this up (v.41). They were like a bunch of guys competing against each other in a sport.
But as the selfless servant, Jesus redirects their request, and teaches them about serving others. C.J. Mahaney writes, “What I find especially fascinating and instructive in His next words is that Jesus does not categorically criticize or forbid the desire and ambition to be great. Instead, He clearly redirects that ambition, redefines it, and purifies it.”[i]
Jesus teaches the disciples that true greatness is found in serving others. Instead of being self-serving for the purpose self-glorification, Jesus demonstrates that true and lasting greatness consists of serving others for their good and God’s glory. And how does Jesus teach this truth? Through His words (His teaching) and His works (His sacrifice).
As our example of a servant, Jesus points to Himself, declaring that He did not come to be served, but to serve. Jesus was a selfless Servant, and so should we.
The Sacrificial Savior
It’s been said that man’s greatest need is God’s greatest deed. And that would be the forgiveness of sins. As the greatest servant of all, Jesus serves our greatest need by giving His life as a ransom.
A ransom was the price that was paid to deliver someone from some type of bondage or captivity, such as a slave or prisoner. And as those enslaved to sin and condemned to death, Jesus paid for our deliverance by providing Himself as the ransom. It’s been famously said, “He paid a debt He did not owe because owed a debt we could not pay.
Jesus served us. He met our every need. This should cause use to want to serve Him and to meet the needs of others.
When you think of the Gospel of Mark, think of the selfless servant and sacrificial savior who loves you and came to serve you.
[i] Mahaney, C.J. Humility: True Greatness (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2005). 43