All Roads Lead to Jesus - Mark

Mark – He is the Messiah Who is a Servant
Reading – Mark 10:45

It’s always weird to watch popular Christian artists, celebrities, and even pastors arrive at special events or conferences with a security detail and entourage. I have had the opportunity to invite some bands for concerts or arrange for special speakers at Christian events. Inevitably, while working with the celebrity’s agent, the host of the event will receive a rider with all of the demands and bullet points that must be met upon the arrival of the celebrity.

I understand why these kinds of contracts originated. People want to have their needs met with the least amount of trouble. With that in mind, it is hard to reconcile the treatment many of us expect when we serve, with the treatment Jesus endured when he left the glory of heaven to serve us, even unto death.

The Gospel of Mark was most likely written by a man named John Mark. Most scholars believe that John Mark wrote down the verbal transmission of the Gospel as he heard it from the Apostle Peter. Mark’s Gospel is the earliest of all of the Gospel writings. In his Gospel, he focuses on how Jesus is the Servant King. Jesus is the Messiah who deserved a Crown but received a Cross. Through that Cross Jesus has received the ultimate Crown as the King of Kings.

At one point in Mark’s story, two of the disciples approach Jesus and ask of him a noble request. They ask that when Jesus becomes king that he allows them to sit at his right and left. I think it is interesting that the disciples ask for a place to sit and not a place to serve. It is also curious that the disciples were asking more of Christ and not less. These disciples wanted to take part in Jesus’ rule as co-rulers and co-recipients of the glory Christ deserved.

Jesus responded to them with words that turned their idea of the Kingdom upside down. Jesus told the disciples that the Kingdom where he was King would not be like the kingdoms of this earth. On Earth, kings and rulers dominate and order people around. But the greatest in the Greatest Kingdom are those who serve others. In fact, those that would consider themselves a “slave to all” would be the greatest. What came out of Jesus’ mouth next must have been disappointing as he told the disciples, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.”

What was Jesus saying? Not only had he come to serve all people, including the people that the Jews wanted off their backs, but he had come to die for those same people. This is the way of the Kingdom of God.

Throughout the story that Mark tells, there are three main groups that follow Jesus. The first group is the disciples. These were the 12 men that Jesus invited to follow him throughout his earthly ministry. As the story progresses, we find that these men do not fully understand Jesus and his call to serve humanity. They wanted a king that would deliver them from the oppression of Rome. But this Messiah introduced a new Kingdom. In this Kingdom, the king served the people, and the people served one another.

A second group of people that Mark focuses on are the religious leaders. This group was considered the holy rollers of their time. They were fervent in their prayers and in their religious adherence to strict laws that governed every aspect of their lives. They were the ones who knew God best. Yet Jesus proved that they were the furthest from God. They were judgmental, bigots, arrogant, and self-righteous. This group led the way in destroying the ministry of Jesus and having him nailed to a cross.

The third group that Mark includes is the crowds of people that followed Jesus. These crowds gathered as word spread of the great miracles and super-natural teaching that came from Jesus in ever-widening circles. Many in these crowds wanted to experience healing and desired a word of encouragement. They too were looking for a Messiah that would conquer Rome and set them free.

Each of these groups had something in common with one another. They all abandoned Jesus. The disciples left Jesus during his greatest time of need and just as he was serving them with the ultimate act of love on the Cross. The religious leaders condemned him and were the reason Jesus was put to death. The crowds motivated and reinforced the religious leaders in the execution of Jesus as they stood by and jeered. Jesus was not the King they wanted.

And yet, Jesus the Messiah served the disciples, the religious leaders, and the crowds. At the lowest point in the story, as Jesus took his last breath, there is only one person who is faithful to Jesus – the Roman Centurion guard who had just nailed Jesus to the cross. “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” For those that remained at the Cross and for those that heard the story of the Roman guard’s confession, these words of Jesus must have haunted them as they realized just what kind of king Jesus had come to be. Jesus’ servanthood was so extreme that he would die for those who had every intention of killing him.

Those who would follow Jesus must follow the Servant-King.  If I were to only leave you with these words, then your spirit ought to be crushed. If we only follow Jesus as an example, then we have no hope. We cannot live up to the example of Christ on our own. We must follow him by confessing him as our Servant King and trusting that his cross means something to our salvation.

We have to follow Jesus to Calvary, down into the depths of his grave, and out of his grave if we are to have any hope of being servants ourselves. When we come to the realization that his service on the cross and in the grave was for our benefit we will be motivated to serve as he served. When we fail to serve others as Christ did so perfectly, we will rely on the sacrifice that he made on our behalf.

Jesus served people who weren’t good to him. He served people who talked behind his back. Jesus served those who called themselves friends, promised Jesus undying loyalty, and then left him and denied him when he needed them most. Jesus served without limousines, contract stipulations, and with the worst security detail, any King has ever had. After all, his disciples couldn’t even stay awake as the mob approached.

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