May 2013

Jesus Came to Serve and to Save

Sermon audio:

Act 4 | The Coming of the King

This sermon on “Jesus Came to Serve and to Save” from The Drama of Redemption was preached by Robert Greene at Redemption Hill Church on Sunday, May 26, 2013.

Sermon Text:

Mark 10:32-45

Sermon Synopsis:

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Jesus Came to Serve and to Save
Mark 10:32-45

Pastoral Note – Theology should never be divorced or compartmentalized from actual life.  The point of doctrine, established from the study of God through His word, is always to inform the heart and mind for decision making in real life. 

Pathway to Glory

A Presumptuous Request

Mark 10:35-37 “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

“The corruption of the heart, like fire in flint, generally lies concealed, till, by a collision with some particular circumstances, it is elicited; and then it comes forth with a power capable of producing the most fatal effects.” – Charles Simeon

Mark 10:38-40 “Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

In those days, when a rabbi or leader would travel he would be in the middle and the first most prominent disciple would be on his right and the the 2nd on his left.  That which the brothers are seeking after is their own glory, renown and fame.  Their first priority isn’t Christ but their own self-gratification and self-interest.  Concurrently, the celerity of their response exposes the very high likelihood that they did not understand precisely what the cup and baptism Jesus spoke of represented. The cup embodied the judgment/wrath of God and the death that Christ would endure on the cross.  The baptism was meant to symbolize the extended suffering He would undergo.  Matthew 26:39 “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Thus, Christ is communicating to James and John, that the path to glory and honor that they seek is only to be had through sharing in the suffering and death that He would experience.

A Self-Righteous Indignation

Mark 10:41 “And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.”

“Till James and John had applied to the Lord Jesus for the two highest places in his kingdom, the other ten Disciples appeared content with any lot that should be assigned them: but when they had reason to apprehend that their more aspiring brethren might be placed above them, they were filled with indignation against them, and were ready to dispute and quarrel with them for precedency. Then they shewed, that they themselves were as much actuated by ambition as the others; and were quite as averse to yield, as the others were anxious to obtain, the highest place of dignity and power. Unconscious of the evil that existed in themselves, they were soon offended at it in others: and it is observable, that we are never more easily offended, than when we behold in others the evil that is predominant in ourselves; so blind are we in our judgment, and so partial in our decisions.” – Charles Simeon

Mark 10:42-45 “And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Here Jesus gives a very gentle rebuke and correction to the thinking of the disciples.  Their indignation was not about the presumptuous arrogance of James and John with regard to Christ.  It was rather caused from a desire to have the same pre-imminence themselves and not having been the first to ask.  Jealousy, envy and coveting were all at play in the minds of the disciples and their umbrage at the brothers of Zebedee.  In these verses, Jesus more clearly establishes His purpose in His first response to the brothers.  If they would be “great” with Him, they would likewise need to drink from the same cup of suffering by being servants of all first.  To follow and be glorified with Him would mean taking the same hard road He came to take in death.  Whether their specific deaths would be literal or metaphorical, the ultimate meaning is their life was not their own; their lives would be given over in service to Him for the sake of others and they would have rule over no one.  Mark 8:34 “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

He Came to Serve

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Christ came to save men which was accomplished by His suffering and death through serving men.  A price had to be paid to God by God so that man could be released from the debt that was owed to God.  There was and is no other way that salvation could be extended to man.  Man has never had anything to offer God that could be adequate to provide remuneration for the offense of transgressing an infinitely Holy God and since man had nothing to offer, Christ served man by acting on his behalf.  Moreover, Christ continues to serve man in this capacity; John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  Apart from Him continuing to serve, no Christian is able to accomplish anything.  He serves by empowering His people to put to death sin, serve others, preach the gospel and be sanctified.  He serves by continually interceding for His people.  Romans 8:26-27 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  In all areas of life, the believer is being served by God and this truth should not be an offense but good news in the hearts and minds of God’s people!


To ransom a person is to set them free; it is liberation from captivity through a payment of sorts.  This language and concept would have been a familiar paradigm in Jesus’ day; for example, a slave could be ransomed from indentured servitude.  Jesus’ use of this concept in the verse is to establish that men are held in a captivity that they are unable to free themselves from.  Whether this bondage is recognized or not, the scripture makes clear that the enslavement men are under is very real and requires a very real Savior.

John 8:34 “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”

Romans 6:6 “    We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

Galatians 4:3-7 “In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

“The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.” – John Stott

It is the very heart of the Christian message that Jesus came to be that savior that paid the ransomed to set men free.


The central point of Christ’s word in these verses is not simply to have His disciples model His service.  He does not simply seek to have you follow Him as an example.  This is more than an enlightened teacher establishing rules and regulations to emulate.  For if it were the case, that in our own power we must figure out how to emulate and conform to His example, we would be wretched indeed and no better off than if He had not come and the law was still our taskmaster.  The chief meaning in Christ’s words is to understand that He did not come to be served by you, but to serve and imbue you with the ability to keep His commands.  In your relationship with Him, He will serve and empower you.  The cup you drink and baptism you share with Him will be enabled by Him.  He will give you precisely what you need precisely when you need it.  Daily, He will enable you to taste His suffering, deny yourself, carry your cross and follow Him.  It is a radical truth, but a truth nonetheless.

It’s in serving us that Jesus makes us a servant to all.  He rewires the fundamental motivations of our heart so that there is no longer a desire to draw comparisons between ourselves and others.  There is no more craving for affirmation or glory.  There is no longer a sense of self-pity when people don’t recognize your work and efforts on this earth.  These baser fleshly desires will cease to make sense in the shadow of His sacrifice for us.  He drank the big cup of suffering as our servant so that we can take the little cups as we serve one another.

“Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy, cast off that I might be brought in, trodden down as an enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend, surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best, stripped that I might be clothed, wounded that I might be healed, athirst that I might drink, tormented that I might be comforted, made a shame that I might inherit glory, entered darkness that I might have eternal life.My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes, groaned that I might have endless song, endured all pain that I might have unfading health, bore a thorned crown that I might have a glory-diadem, bowed his head that I might uplift mine, experienced reproach that I might receive welcome, closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness, expired that I might forever live.” – The Valley of Vision, Love Lustres at Calvary.

Application Questions

If Jesus came not to be served, but to serve, will you let Him serve you?

Do you see how necessary it is for Him to have served you on the Cross and to continue to serve you today?

Will you serve, not to impress others (or under the mistaken idea that you can impress Him), but in strength He supplies as He serves You?

“Ultimately our Christian service exists only to draw attention to this source to our crucified and risen Lord, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.” – C.J. Mahaney

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