RANSOM…HIS LIFE FOR YOUR LIFE
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:35-45
The older I get as a prison minister the more I meet young people in prison and connect with them. There was the time when I was at the Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility where the young men were talking and laughing while I was trying to share the Word of God with them. However, one young man, who sat in the front of the room told everyone in the room to be quiet. He yelled out, “You all need to hear this!!” The other young men respected him and remained quiet the rest of the service. At the end of the service I thanked him for his help and he told me how he was only 18 years old, but that he had another 40 years in prison. My heart hurt. I have another story when I was in Michigan City, Indiana when I met Daryl Burnett at the Indiana State Prison. I was there as part of the Saints Prison Ministry and Daryl and I started talking near the basketball court. I told him about Jesus and that I loved him. He said, “If you love me how about you let me have those sneakers you have on.” It was the first time someone had asked for my sneakers but it was not the last time. I gave him my shoes but when I heard his story I wished I could have given him much more. He was a college student on a basketball scholarship and he got into trouble and lost his scholarship. He was too embarrassed to go home from college so he slept on his friend’s couches, but eventually he needed some money so he robbed two women on two separate occasions. If he would have just robbed them with the unloaded gun he had then he would have gotten a maximum of 20 years. 10 years for each robbery. But because he made them get in the car and go to the bank across the street from the shopping mall parking lot, they were able to convict him of 2 counts of robbery and 2 counts of kidnapping. Kidnapping is 3o years in the state of Indiana so he got a total of 80 years at age 21. It just hurt my heart to learn that. In both these cases I wished I could somehow give of myself so that these young men could go free. I simply could not imagine going through my twenties or thirties in prison. In my twenties I graduated college, bought my first house, met my wife, traveled out of the country for the first time. In my thirties I got married, witnessed the birth of 2 of my children, became a licensed and ordained minister, and started my own business. When I went into prisons to do ministry I did not want a sum of money in return or even to be recognized on television. But one thing I have always wanted is to be able to set some of these young men free. I could only imagine how joyful and thankful they would be if they got to go free and the life that they would be able to have. And my only hope would be that they did not do anything that would cause them to return to prison.
Well here in the book of Mark, Jesus speaks to this very same point. James and John are making a specific request of the master. They envisioned Jesus as the coming King who would set Israel free from the Roman oppression and who would rule the world in righteousness. And they were thinking of that day when Jesus would rule the world from Israel and they wanted to be in high positions with Him at his right and left side. Of course we would normally condemn James and John and it is clear the other disciples were not pleased with this request but instead of condemning this request Jesus reorganized their view of what success was. They thought success would be sitting atop the throne and ruling over the people. They thought success was being first. They thought success was being most important. But the Son of Man says, “He came to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus didn’t say it was anything wrong with wanting to be out front, or wanting to be first, or wanting to lead. But He wants us to lead in service, He wants us to lead in forgiveness, He wants us to lead in love! Jesus gave His life for us. Think of the worst sin you can think of. Maybe its prostitution which is when someone engages in sexual intercourse for money and literally sells their body. The body that God gave them to be used for something holy, they instead use it for sin. Or maybe you think the worse sin is drunkenness which is when we become delirious after drinking too much alcohol and literally poison our bodies. Or maybe you think it is racism when we consider our race superior to other races, when the Bible clearly states we are all equal. No matter what sin you can think of Jesus came to serve us by dying for that sin. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus allowed us to get out of the bondage of sin and death. So the prostitute can be forgiven and set free in the name of Jesus. The drunkard can be forgiven and set free in the name of Jesus. The racist can be forgiven and set free in the name of Jesus. When you were living in sin you were in bondage…you were a slave to sin. You were like the prisoners who I met in the prison. Jesus says in John 8:34, “Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.” But when Jesus came to serve us He gave His life to pay the price for our sin so that we could be set free. So that we could walk out of the prison. And all we have to do to walk out of the prison of sin is believe in Jesus Christ!! And when you walk out of that prison He has a whole new life for you as He fills you with His Holy Spirit. And since He died for you it’s only right that we live for Him!!