Death of a slave
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Hello Saints, let's do a little theology today!
I have been studying the cross this past week, preparing my heart for a deeper encounter with the Savior, and trying to understand a different aspect of the cross that I have not really pondered before. I remember studying the Gospel of Mark in bible college and the professor pointing out that the gospel crescendos at Mark 10:45 – it is the heart of the book. I pondered this verse over and over and realized that the whole mission of Jesus was to give His life for us. He was and remains the Great Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). As a man, God comes to serve us by giving His life as a “ransom”. A ransom is the price paid for setting a slave free. So, in order for one to benefit from the ransom, one must see themselves as a slave. To what am I a slave? The biblical answer is that I am a slave to sin. In my non-ransomed condition, I am a slave to sin, which is my master. Sin controls my life, as Paul clearly states in Romans 6: “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death…”. As a result of sin, I am dead in my sin (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:1). The wages of sin is death – that is what sin against a Holy God requires – the death penalty, which I must pay somehow. But Jesus clearly has come to pay the price to free sinners from the penalty of sin, which is death – He will die in our place. Praise God! That is the Gospel Good News!
But just how will Jesus do that? This is what I have been meditating on this week. Philippians 2 sums it up best: “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Phil 2:6-7 NLT) There it is – Jesus became a slave – He takes my place as a slave to sin. As Paul writes, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us” (2Cor. 5:20-21). The Bible teaches substitutionary atonement – that is that Jesus takes our place and receives in His body the penalty for sin that we rightly deserve, and He being God does not deserve – He dies, we live because of His death. His death satisfies the requirements of God to put us back into relationship with God – that is reconciliation between God and people through the death of Jesus, our sacrificial Lamb. The Lamb is killed instead of us. Praise God!
Substitution is clearly the message of Isaiah 53, “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins” (Isa. 53:11 NLT). The Hebrew word for “servant” is ebed, literally 'slave'. Philippians 2 bears witness to Isaiah 53, both declaring that the Son of God takes our place as a “slave to sin” and is rightly crucified on a cruel cross in our place.
Jesus has an interaction with some religious Jews in John 8. It is a remarkable passage:
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed
(John 8:31-36 NIV).
Jesus is trying to get the religious leaders to see they are sinners, actually slaves to sin. He tells them that the only way to be freed from this bondage is for the Son to set you free – making you a son (not a slave) in the family of God. Jesus understood that the wages of sin is death, and that to free someone from slavery to sin, a ransom price would have to be paid. He knew all along that that was His mission – to free slaves bound to the evil master called Sin. Jesus knew that defection from a slave master was punishable by death on a Roman cross, for it was mainly slaves that were crucified on crosses for desertion of and rebellion against their masters. Yet, the Son of God and Son of Man was willing to become a slave in our stead – to die a slave’s death on a Roman cross on our behalf. When Paul is teaching this amazing truth to the Roman church, he is trying to get them to see that because of Christ’s substitutionary death, we are dead to sin and alive to Christ, and sin is no longer our master (Rom. 6:14). His exclamation is, “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (vs. 18). We serve a new Master – the Lord Jesus Christ. It is hard to believe, maybe accept is a better word, that God who rules and reigns over all creation, and is slave to no one, would come down as a man, and humble himself as a slave to die for us on a Roman cross, to set us free from the evil master called Sin. But that is what He did! Only one way to respond – in gratitude we worship and praise!
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. (Rom. 3:23-26 NLT)
"Advancing the Kingdom of God by releasing Spirit-filled followers
to serve Jesus in freedom and joy."