He Came: To Serve the Helpless - Radical

He Came: To Serve the Helpless

Our savior came to suffer and to save. Jesus came to be our substitute. He came to show us how to live and came to serve us. As Christians, we are called to trust Jesus to serve us and exalt Jesus by serving others. Jesus’ service to us enables our obedience to him. Our service to others demonstrates his sacrifice for us.

  1. Jesus is our servant.
  2. We are Jesus’ servants.

If you have a Bible, and I hope you do, let me invite you to open with me to Mark 10. And tonight I want to show you the connection between the coming of Christ at Christmas and teenagers in this faith family who are serving the homeless in this city. Praise God for teenagers in this faith family who are initiating and leading out in ministry like that. Small groups of students that are doing things like that all across this faith family. 

And what I want to show you is the connection between why Christ came and why we go. Christ came to serve the helpless. What we’re going to look at tonight is Mark 10. We’re going to camp out specifically in verse 45. It is the most theologically rich, thematically rich, verse in all of the book of Mark. This is kind of the focal point in many ways. And so what I want us to do is I want us to start a little bit before that in verse 35, and look at the conversation that Jesus was having with His disciples that led up to this mammoth statement in verse 45. And then we’re going to focus on really thinking about this statement and what it means. The gravity of what it means and how it affects our lives. So we’ll start in Mark 10:35

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.’ ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.’

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 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. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 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’ (Mark 10:35–45).

 There it is – underline it – verse 45, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” God, help us to understand what it means for us not to serve Jesus, but to be served by Jesus. God, help us to feel the weight of what it means for Jesus to be a ransom for us, and not just for us, but for many. In His name, we pray. Amen.

Mark 10:35–45 and Why He Came…

Here’s what I want us to do with that last verse. I want us to look first at five different reasons in this one verse for why Jesus came. And we’re really going to kind of start from the second half of the verse. It’s kind of parallel thought. “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.” And then it gives an explanation of how He served. “To give his life as a ransom for many.” So I want us to start here thinking about to give His life as a ransom for many, and I want to show you five reasons why He came based on this simple verse right here. And we’re going to kind of work our way back to what I think is the main point of this verse. Then we’re going to think through okay, if that’s the main point, then what does this mean for our lives, and how do we respond to this verse in the way we live this week? So we’ll start with five reasons why He came, and we’re going to kind of build to the reason that sums up all of them. 

Jesus Came to Suffer

First, why did Jesus come? Jesus came to suffer; to give His life. The Son of Man came to give His life. Now when He talks, refers to Himself as the Son of Man, this is actually the most popular designation of Christ for Himself in the Gospels. He oftentimes refers to Himself as the Son of Man, and it literally means that. He is a human. He is like us – Son of Man. He is fully human, like us. But here’s where He is very different from us. 

Yes, He is totally human, just like you and me, but He decided to come. And that in and of itself makes Him very different from you and me. Like who decided one day to appear on this earth? Decided you were going to come here? You don’t make that call; I don’t make that call. We just kind of showed up.

Jesus, on the other hand, is the preexistent one. The eternal one. The Son of God and Son of Man, and He decided to come. That’s part of the reason why we titled the series He Came because those two words in and of themselves show us how glorious Jesus is. That He decided to come, and He came for a reason. And I want to show you how Mark is really intentional to point us to that reason all throughout this Gospel, particularly in a couple of chapters around Mark 10:45

Turn back to the left and go to Mark 8 real quick. Mark 8:31. Little summary of the book of Mark – the first, from chapter 1 all the way to the beginning of chapter 8, the focus in the book of Mark is on Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. And so we’re kind of following Him all throughout Galilee. But then what happens is in chapter 8, there’s a transition, and Jesus sets His face to go to Jerusalem. And what He does is on the road to Jerusalem, not once, not twice, but three different times on the road to Jerusalem, Jesus draws attention to His disciples regarding why He is going to Jerusalem. And it all goes back to why He came. Look at Mark 8:31. This is the first time. It says, “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man”—there it is again, that designation—“the Son of Man must suffer many things” (Mark 8:31). Not might, not possibly will, but “he must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). He must be killed. Not He might be killed. He must be killed.

There is something that is set here, that is driving Jesus. Go to the next chapter – chapter 9. Look at verse 30 in chapter 9. Jesus says this again in verse 30, “They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, ‘The Son of Man’”—here it is again—“The Son of Man is going to be betrayed” (Mark 9:30–31). Not might be – “going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise. But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it” (Mark 9:31–32). There’s certainty here. They’re going to kill the Son of Man. 

Then you get over to chapter 10, where we’re at, and you look at 10:32, right before this passage that we just read. Look at the conversation Jesus has with His disciples here in Mark 10. In verse 32, 

They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. ‘We are going up to Jerusalem,’ he said, ‘and the Son of Man’”—there it is again—“the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise’ (Mark 10:32–34). 

There’s no maybe in this. There’s no possibility in this. This is something that must happen; that is going to happen. It will happen. You know it’s interesting – if we had time we’d go back and we’d look in Isaiah 52 and 53, and we’d see an area of Isaiah called the servant’s songs that were prophecies of how Christ would come. Fingerprints of Isaiah 53 are all over the book of Mark, and in particular here. Isaiah 53:10, where the Bible says – prophesied hundreds of years before – “it was the Lord’s will”—Isaiah 53:10—“It was the Lord’s will to crush [Jesus]” (Is. 53:10). It was the Lord’s will to cause Him to suffer. 

When Jesus goes to Jerusalem and He begins to be mocked and beaten and scourged and spit upon, this is not happening by surprise. This is the very reason He came. Here in Mark 10, Jesus is walking willingly directly into the jaws of suffering and death. When He says, talks about “this cup I drink and baptism that I’m baptized with” (Mark 10:39), these are references to His suffering. The cup I drink. When we get over to I think it’s Mark 14 – “Father, if it’s possible, let this cup pass from me.” What is this cup? It’s the cup of God’s wrath due sin. Isaiah 51, Jeremiah 25, Psalm 75 – a cup filled with the dregs of the wrath of God due sin that He’s about to endure on a cross. When He talks about baptism, this is imagery that we see in Scripture, literally being immersed in suffering or immersed in death. And the picture is Jesus came – very clearly, He came to suffer. Jesus came to die. He was born for the purpose of suffering and death. He came to give His life. Now obviously, it’s deeper than just dying.

Mark 10:35–45: Jesus Came to Save

Second, Jesus came to suffer and Jesus came to save. Came to give His life as a what? As a ransom. It’s the price, the payment for release from slavery. It’s a word that we would use in association with hostages. When someone is held captive and needs to be freed, and a payment needs to be offered. The picture that Christ gives of His own death is, “I am paying the price for your release.” You are in slavery to sin, and slavery to yourself, and slavery to death. And Christ has come to free you from slavery to sin, and yourself, and death. To pay the price for you to be free, to be ransomed. He came to give His life. 

Jesus Came to be our Substitute

He came to suffer. He came to save. And then we get to this three-letter word here in Mark 10:45 that is huge. He came to give His life as a ransom for – and you might make a little note in your Bible. Circle that word and put it beside. This is not just “for” here. It’s not just on behalf of many or for the sake of many. This word, this preposition literally means “instead of” or “in place of” many. 

Jesus came to suffer. He came to save. And He came to be our substitute. And the picture that Jesus is giving us here in what He says is He’s looking upon His disciples, who are under the weight of sin and under the wrath of God. You and I, under the weight of sin, under the wrath of God, deserving eternal death. And Jesus came to stand in our place. To take His wrath, the wrath of the Father upon Himself instead of us. Think of it!

You in light, in view of your sin, deserving eternal death, and Jesus comes to you and He says, “I will stand in your place.” This is why the hymn writer (P. P. Bliss) wrote: 

Man of Sorrows, what a name 

For the Son of God who came 

Ruined sinners to reclaim; 

Hallelujah! what a Savior!

 

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place, condemned He stood,

Sealed my pardon with His blood;

Hallelujah! what a Savior!

 

Guilty, vile and helpless, we;

Spotless Lamb of God was he.

Full atonement – can it be?

Hallelujah! what a Savior!

 

Lifted up was He to die;

“It is finished” was His cry.

Now in heaven, exalted high;

Hallelujah! what a Savior!

 

When He comes, our glorious King,

All His ransomed choir to bring,

Then anew this song we will sing;

Hallelujah! what a Savior!

 

He came to suffer, He came to save, and He came to be our substitute. That is really, really, really good news. That’s gospel. 

And it’s not all in Mark 10:45. All of these things—gospel. He came to suffer, to save, to be our substitute. Then begin to see how this plays in—this rich theological truth—the gospel plays into this conversation He’s having with His disciples. 

Mark 10:35–45: Jesus Came to Show us how to Live

Fourth reason He came – He came to show us how to live. This is in addition to this. This is not in place of. Jesus is not just an example for us for how to live. Fundamentally He’s a substitute for us. But in His substitution, in His giving His life as a ransom for many, He is showing us what it means to be a servant. What it means to be slave of all. 

James and John don’t know what they’re asking. They’re wanting to promote selfish gain in the kingdom of God. And Jesus looks at them and says to them, “No. No, you are living for something totally different. You want to be great, you serve.” And Jesus just totally redefines greatness in the gospel with a basin, a towel, and a cross, ultimately.

And He says, “No. You are being called to a life that looks a lot different than the leaders and the powerful people around you. You are being called to be a slave; to be a servant.” And He tells James and John, “You will drink of this cup. You will be baptized.” Obviously not in the same sense that they would bear the wrath of sin in the same way He did on the cross. But clearly, James himself was beheaded in Acts 12. John exiled to an island, alone, as a result of his following after Christ. These men would pay a price as they followed the example of Christ. 

Jesus is calling us here to a radically different way to live in the way we love others. He’s calling us to a sacrificial, selfless, slave-like love for people around us. For people in our homes, people in our neighborhoods, people in the city, people in the nations. You know I’m guessing that there might’ve been at least a little tinge of thought as you listen to stories about going to homeless men and women that one of the first things we often think is, “Well, homeless people – aren’t they oftentimes homeless because of choices they’ve made that have gotten them there, and have kept them there? Maybe they could be in another situation but they continue to stay there as a result of their own choices. Should we really help them?” And this is where we need to realize how the gospel changes everything because the reality is you and I were in our sin because we had chosen to be there. And we were still there. We were still there because we kept running to our sin, time and time and time again. And yet we have a Christ who left His throne in glory and pursued after us when there was nothing in us to draw us to Him.

He came to us, totally undeserving. He came to you and me, and as a result we don’t think about helping others the way the world thinks about helping others. We think about helping others in a totally different way because our lives are transformed by the gospel. And Jesus has shown us there is another way to live than the rat race you find yourself in in 21st century American culture. He showed us how to live. 

Now, this is the point where we oftentimes close the book and say, “Okay, well that was the point. Jesus came to give Himself as a ransom and to show us that we need to be a servant of all.” And that is all true. But I fear if we stop at this point we will miss at least part of the point, if not the whole point, of this verse. I want us to come to this last reason why Jesus came, and I want us to see a reason that really in a sense sums up all the others. And then I want us to think about what this means. 

Jesus Came to Serve us

Fifth reason Jesus came according to Mark 10:45 – it sums up all the others. He came to suffer. He came to save. To be our substitute. To show us how to live. And Jesus came to serve us. 

Now this seems simple, but I want you to ponder it with me for a moment. The word here for “serve” is the word from which we get a word like “deacon” today. It literally means to wait on tables; to wait on, to offer service to. Even the smallest service to. And so this is Jesus saying He wants to wait on you. This is not Jesus saying that He wants you to serve Him. Instead this is Jesus saying He wants to serve you. This is not how we most often think about Christianity. We think of ourselves as servants of Christ, and we’ll get to that in a minute. But the whole point of Mark 10:45 is not to encourage you to serve Jesus. The whole point of Mark 10:45 is to encourage you to be served by Jesus. To let Jesus serve you, wait on you. 

This is not a powerful religious teacher coming on the scene and saying to his lowly servants, “Here’s what you need to do.” Instead, He is coming and He is saying, “I am here to be your slave. I am here to work for you.” That’s weird. It’s not how we normally think of Jesus. We think of ourselves as serving Jesus, but not Him waiting on and working for us. But this is the reality. 

What This Means…

Jesus is our Servant

Now think about it – what does this mean? Let’s step back and think about this. When Jesus says, “I have come not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Now He is saying to His disciples then and His disciples today that He is our servant. What this means—Jesus is our servant. It’s that simple. Brothers and sisters, Jesus is our servant. Jesus is your servant. 

Now we have to be careful here to realize what this does not mean. This does not mean that we tell Jesus what to do. He’s not our servant in that sense, in that way. That’s what James and John were trying to get Him to do—to order Him for what He needed to do for them. That’s not the picture here. We don’t order Jesus around as if we have authority over Jesus. That’s not what it means for Jesus to be our servant. That would be a perversion of that truth. 

But the truth is really not far from there, because the reality is – think about this. Jesus does say things in the Gospels like John 14, “Ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:14). That’s the words of a servant. John 15, “You remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7). That’s Jesus giving a blank check, that anything that is asked according to His will, according to His Word, in His name—anything—is yours. 

And so when the Bible says that Jesus is our servant, what it does mean is that Jesus gives us what we need. Literally, He gives us everything we need. And here’s where I want to encourage you to pay really, really, really close attention, because I am convinced that this is in many senses the key to unlocking the Christian life, in all of its wonder and all of its beauty.

It is the key to understanding everything we’ve talked about for the last year when it comes to radical obedience to Christ, and everything that we’ll talk about for the next year when it comes to radical obedience to Christ. This is the key, because Jesus has just called these guys—James, John, the disciples—He’s called them to radical discipleship. To be servants and slaves of all. To live totally different from the ways of this world. To experience suffering in that process. He’s just called them to radical obedience. But then He follows that by saying, “I came to serve you. And so your radical obedience to me is not a matter of you serving me. It’s a matter of me serving you.” 

In other words, what Jesus is saying – don’t miss this – is what Jesus is calling them to do when it comes to radical discipleship is totally impossible without Him giving them what they need. They can’t do it. There’s no way they can live contrary to the ways of this world. There’s no way you and I can spurn an American dream and live with totally different ideals and values and passions in this world. We need Jesus to serve us to give us what we need to enable us, to empower us, to live out the life that He has put before us. Jesus’ call to radical obedience is a call to be served by Him. And we’re going to come back to that in a second, but I want to make sure we don’t go off into error here, because second here, what this means – yes, there are places in the Bible where it talks about how we are servants of God or servants of Christ. Paul talks about how we are servants of Christ Jesus. 

Mark 10:35–45: We are Jesus’ Servants

So yes, Jesus is our servant, and at the same time, in a different sense, we are Jesus’ servants. So Jesus is our servant, and we are His servants. Now, what does it mean for us to be His servants? When the Bible talks about us like this, what the Bible does not mean – don’t miss this – the Bible does not mean that Jesus needs our aid. That Jesus needs our help – which, whether we like to admit it or not, is oftentimes what’s in our mind when we think about us as Jesus’ servants. We think about how we are Jesus’ workers who are giving Him the help He needs to carry out the gospel and advance the kingdom in the world.

This is how we often talk about mission and think about mission if we’re not careful. A.W. Tozer – one of my favorite quotes from Tozer. He said, 

So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy not to say enjoyable to believe that we are necessary to God. Probably the hardest thought of all for our natural egotism to entertain is that God does not need our help. We commonly represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father, hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plan to bring peace and salvation to the world. Too many missionary appeals are based upon this fancied frustration of Almighty God. An effective speaker can easily excite pity in His hearers, not only for the thousands of heathen, but for the God who has tried so hard and so long to save them, and has failed for want of support. I fear that thousands of people enter Christian service from no higher motive than to help deliver God from the embarrassing situation His love has gotten Him into and His limited abilities seem unable to get Him out of.

So at this point I want to remind us of Acts 17:25, “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” What do you have in your life that you can give to God that He has not given to you? Is God ever hungry in such a way that you help alleviate His hunger? Is He ever tired in a way that you help serve Him in that? Is He ever lonely in a way that you help Him? Absolutely not! God is almighty. He needs no support. He is never lonely, hungry, or tired, and He does not need you or me at all.

The reality is we talk about mission and what we want to do to impact nations for the glory of Christ, as we should in obedience to His Word. But let us never get the idea that we are necessary to God. The reality is that our church could drop dead and turn to dust, and God will still make a great name for Himself among the nations. He does not need us – we need Him. That’s the whole point of the gospel. We need Him. He does not need our aid. He does not need us to help Him. We need Him to help us. 

So what does it mean for us to be His servants then? It means that we submit to Jesus’ authority. That Jesus reigns over us. When the Bible talks about us as Jesus’ servants, the picture is that Jesus is our Sovereign, our King, our Ruler, our Lord, and we submit and surrender our lives to Him and His leading. Think of it! The sovereign King and Lord, majestic Ruler over the entire universe, has stooped to serve you. Ah, this takes our breath away when you really think about God coming to serve us, not to be served by us.

Mark 10:35–45 and How We Respond…

So how does this look in our lives? And this is where I want you to see that this is so basic, simple, gloriously at the center of Christianity and yet so forgotten. How do we respond to this truth? 

Trust Jesus to Serve You

First, Mark 10:45 is telling you and me—trust Jesus to serve you. Trust Jesus to serve you. Think about it. Isn’t this the essence of what it means to be saved from our sins? To be served by Jesus? To trust Jesus to serve us?

We talked about how Jesus came to suffer and to save; to give His life as a ransom as a substitute for us. And there are likely people in our church gatherings who have never been saved from their sins, and never been served by Christ in salvation. And there are scores of people in every other religious system that says here’s what you need to do in order to be saved. You need to serve yourself, or you need to serve God, or whatever God looks like. That is not Christianity. Christianity is not saying serve God and be saved. Christianity is saying the whole point of Scripture and the gospel is: stop trying to serve yourself and religious people. Stop trying to serve God. Put your hands down. Cry out in need for Him and admit you need to be served by Him. You cannot save yourself. You cannot get rid of your sin. You cannot be reconciled to God and experience the life that you have been created for. He has to serve you. He has to cleanse you of your sin. He has to transform you from the inside out.

This is the essence of the Christian life. Doesn’t the Christian life begin at the very moment when we realize we need to be served by Christ? That’s the whole point of conversion. Being born again. Our eyes are opened to the fact that I am dead, and I have to have someone else to give me life. 

I remember – I mentioned in the previous sermon that Joshua had just turned two years old. And I remember when we brought him home from the hospital, and we had adopted Caleb at ten and a half months, so this newborn was a new thing for us. We were rookies at the newborn deal. And so everything was new, you know? I thought it’d be the same, but changing newborn diapers is a lot different than changing 10 ½-month-old diapers. And sleep patterns – I mean Caleb was sleeping through the night, and Joshua was like never, ever, ever sleeping at all. And I remember everything was just so new. 

I remember when we were giving him a bath. We had this little plastic tub that we got, and the nurses at the hospital had given us instructions for how to bathe a newborn. And you’d think it’d be simple – and it really is. But I was so worried that I was not going to do it right that we got out the instructions. And Heather’s getting Joshua’s clothes off and getting the water going, and I’m pulling out the instructions. Like, Okay, step one: wet the rag. And she’s like, Okay – wet the rag. And then step two: find tear-free, oil-free, hypoallergenic, whatever kind of soap that’s necessary. And so I’m looking everywhere, and it’s just like I mean soap is soap. It’s fine. He’ll be okay. And so it was like put a dab of soap on the rag. Okay, a dab. So then Joshua’s screaming and crying. I can tell that in his mind he’s thinking, “Why did I get stuck with the rookies? They have no clue. They are looking at an instruction sheet. You would think they would’ve thought of this before this particular moment.” 

And with every single detail – you know that first night, not once did He serve us. I mean that’s not – like he didn’t serve us at all. Night after night he had to be served. He didn’t serve us. The reality is if he had tried to serve us – if he had resisted our service to him – quite plainly, he would not have survived. He would’ve died. He was dependent on us to serve him, and that was how he lived. 

And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that earlier in this chapter, Mark 10:15, Jesus said, “Anyone who comes to me must come as a little child.” Because the picture is man or woman, no matter how gifted or skilled you are – no matter how much you know or think you know, or have accomplished in this life – the reality is that before the holy God of the universe, you need Him to survive. And you need Him to serve you in every single way. And the very point of salvation is when you and I put our pride aside, our pursuits aside, our attempts to serve ourselves and to serve even Him aside, and we say, “I cannot do it. I need you to serve me.” That’s salvation. 

And that is the Christian life. We don’t grow out of this, brothers and sisters. The point is not to come to Christ at the initial moment of salvation saying, “I need you to save me, to serve me.” And then once He’s done that, to grow to the point where you can now rise up and do this thing on your own. Yet this is how we live, isn’t it? So often how we try to live the Christian life. Trying to muster up what we can do. It’s not Christianity. The Christian life is moment-by-moment being served by Christ. 

Think about it. What in Christianity does not involve Him serving you? When you pray, Jesus is serving you. He’s leading and guiding your thoughts and your mind, your heart, to be fixed on the glory of God, and guiding you by His Spirit. When we worship, when we sing songs of praise, Jesus is serving us. In His own worship, Jesus is serving us. He is gripping our hearts and our minds with His greatness that causes us to shout out and to raise our hands. Jesus is serving us in this. Even at this very moment, as you are seeing His Word, Jesus is serving you – think of it. Opening your ears, your mind, your heart to understand this. Jesus is serving you right now. And He doesn’t stop. The whole Christian life is Him serving you. Isn’t that beautiful? 

Now this doesn’t mean we just sit back and, “Okay, Jesus. Do some more. Do some more.” We live in active obedience, but don’t miss this. Watch this. Jesus’ service to us is what enables our obedience to Him. Jesus’ service to us is what enables our obedience to Him. 

Think of it this way. Every time, every time Jesus commands you or calls you to do something, that is His way of telling you how He wants to serve you. Did you catch that? Every time Jesus calls or commands us to do something, says, “Do this,” or you see a command in Scripture. That command in Scripture is Jesus’ way of telling us, “Here’s how I want to serve you.” When Jesus says, “If you’re going to come after me, you must give up everything you have,” that’s Jesus’ way of saying, “Trust me to serve you with everything you need.” When Jesus says, “Sell possessions. Give to the poor,” that’s Jesus saying, “Trust me to serve you with treasures that this world cannot compare with.”

Husband or wife, when Jesus says for you to love your spouse even when it’s not easy that is Jesus’ way of saying to you, “I’m going to give you everything you need, husband, to lay down your life for your wife. And wife, to respect and submit to your husband. I’m going to give you everything you need to do this.” Mom or Dad, when Jesus says to you to love your child through a very difficult time, that is His way of saying, “Trust me to give you the wisdom and the patience and the discernment and the love to know what to say, when to say it. Trust me to do these things in you.”

When Jesus calls you or me to walk through a dark valley in this life, maybe sickness or pain or who knows what it might be, that is Jesus’ way of saying, “Trust me to serve you with the strength and sustenance and hope and life that can only come from me that will get you through this.” Everything Jesus calls us to is His way of saying, “Here’s how I want to serve you.” And His service to us enables our obedience to Him. 

This is such good news! It is what sets Christ and Christianity apart from every other religious system. This is not just another religious teacher coming on the scene and saying, “Okay, here’s how to live. Now go do it.” This is not just a superior ethic. This is grace and mercy. This is the very presence of God come to earth, and now incarnate in you. The Spirit of Christ, Christ in you, living in you—enabling you—to live this out. And so the Christian life is a moment-by-moment, day-by-day trusting in Jesus to serve you.

I have since I studied this text this last week have been brought to a point of repentance in my own life because I see so many areas where I’m doing this and this and this, and almost thinking of myself as if I am necessary to God. Or as if I can do these things in order to serve Him. But the reality is, He is calling me at every single detail of my life – at home, at church, personal life, everything – He is calling me to be served by Him.

The Christian life is not a matter of getting up every morning saying, “What can I muster up to do this thing today?” The Christian life is a matter of every morning getting up and saying, “I need you to get up, and I need you to live today, and to breathe today, and to walk today, and to talk today. Every single thing I do today, I am dependent on your grace and your presence in me. I trust you to serve me today.” And He will. He will wait on you. He will work for you. That’s good news. 

Mark 10:35–45: Exalt Jesus by Serving Others

Trust Jesus to serve you. His service to you will enable your obedience to Him. And then the beauty of it is it comes full circle. When we trust Jesus to serve us, we will exalt Jesus by serving others. Because now – don’t miss this – when we are serving others, Jesus – it’s the whole point. He’s just called His disciples there, His disciples today, to a life of service as a slave of all. To serve others; radically serve others.

And what happens is when we serve like Jesus is talking about with the strength He provides, then Matthew 5:16 will be a reality. People will see our lives; will see our service, and give glory to our Father in heaven. The one who gives the grace always gets the glory. And the one who supplies the strength – the one who gives the power and enables us to live this thing out – men, women, husbands, wives, moms, dads, singles, students—trust Jesus to serve you, and as He does, then He will lead you to exalt Him by serving others. And the work of Christ outside of you, through you, will be a demonstration to others of the reality of Christ inside of you. 

This is what C.J. Mahaney said in a great book on humility. He said, “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.” Now whenever we serve others we are pointing to the one who gave His life as a ransom for us, and our service to others demonstrates His sacrifice for us. 

And that is the connection between Christmas and serving the homeless, or whatever ways you serve others in this community, in your home, in your neighborhood, or in the nations. The reality is we have been saved, served, ransomed, and redeemed by Christ. He is serving us at every moment. That service in us flows over into service to others in a way that points others to the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. The Son of Man did not come to be served by you. He came to serve you and to give His life as a ransom instead of us having to pay that price.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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