Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Christmas is a joyful and wonderful time of year. We celebrate the coming of our Lord, and for many it is a time when they get to gather with their families and recreate many of their annual traditions. However, Christmas is not always a joyful time of year for everyone. Perhaps it is a reminder of a child or loved one who has past on, or maybe a person is geographically separated from their family. Such circumstances can often lead to what Elvis Presley sang, “a Blue Christmas.”
However, I believe that there is a remedy and a lasting one for a blue Christmas, and that is to reflect on the heart of what Christmas is really all about, and to know that if you are in Christ you have a friend like no other to spend this Christmas with. A friend who came to serve and give his life a ransom for many. That is the heart of the Christmas message. That no matter what your external circumstances may be, the joy of Christmas is found in the reality that Christ came to give his life a ransom for many. That is: to save many from their sin and from its guilt and power and penalty in eternal punishment.
Are You in “the Many”?
But the question you must first know if you are to enjoy this remedy is: Are you in the many? Were you ransomed when Christ died? Are you still under the guilt and power of sin when you might be free? Are you moving toward eternal life or eternal punishment?
The answer to that is found in John 15:13. Here Jesus answers the question about whom he ransomed. He says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” He says that he will lay down his life for his friends. He will ransom his friends. So here is the question for you this Christmas: Are you a friend of Jesus? If you are, you were ransomed. If you aren’t, you can become one today. What does it mean to be a friend of Jesus?
The next verse explains (John 15:14): “You are My friends, if you do what I command you.” This is not how you become a friend. This is the way you act when you are a friend. This is not the way you become his friend. It is the evidence that you are ransomed. The ransom is what frees you and empowers you to do what Jesus commands you to do. First you know yourself ransomed, then you enjoy the freedom and power and fruit of the ransom.
So we have come back to where we started. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. You can’t serve your way into the friendship of Jesus. If you want to earn wages from Jesus, you are not his friend. Right in John 15:14–16 he makes clear that you can’t be a slave and a friend at the same time:
You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you.
Jesus did not come in search of slave labor. He does not need it. He came in search of those who would become his friends. That is, he came in search of those who would trust him to serve them. TRUST HIM TO SERVE THEM! For these he laid down his life. For these he gave his life as a ransom. These are the many in Mark 10:45. Everyone who trusts the servant Christ as Satisfier, Supplier, Guide, Forgiver belongs to the many.
What creates the friendship is that Jesus chooses you and opens his heart to you and reveals the glory of the Father. (John 15:15: “All things that I heard from my Father I made known to you.”) In fact, this is the essence of becoming a friend of Jesus: you hear in the words of Jesus and you see in the work of Jesus the revelation of God the Father.
That is the truth that changes you. It causes you to be born again. It wakens in you faith that Jesus is the final revelation of God, and that God loves you in Christ, and that he will serve you for all eternity. This is what it means to become the friend of Jesus: seeing in him the all-satisfying glory of God, and trusting him to be your servant-guide and your servant-helper, forever.
So if you are one who struggles with Christmas or find yourself having a blue Christmas remember, The Son of Man has come to serve and give his life as a ransom for his friends. If you are a friend of Jesus then take heart and let his glory and the reason that he came melt the blueness away from your Christmas experience.