Christ Gave His Life as a Ransom
Matthew 20:17-28 (Pastor Heo)
Jesus Again Predicts His Death
20:17-19pp — Mk 10:32-34; Lk 18:31-33
17 Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
A Mother’s Request
20:20-28pp — Mk 10:35-45
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, 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 by my Father.” 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (<— memory verse #28)
God bless the reading of His Word.
In this same book, chapter 16, Jesus said for the first time that he would go to Jerusalem, be killed and raised to life. Then, in chp 17, he predicted his death again. This here, is the third time he’s announced his arrest, suffering, death, and resurrection.
In the previous announcement, he wasn’t specific about HOW he would die – but here he clearly mentions the cross and his resurrection.
Yet, even though he mentioned this, the disciples didn’t understand well. The message didn’t penetrate their hearts.
“We are going up to Jerusalem…to die.”
In this story, we can see 5 kinds of sufferings:
- Betrayal to the chief priests (suffering of heart broken by friends/brothers)
- Condemnation to death (suffering of injustice)
- Handed over to Rome to be mocked (suffering of humiliation)
- Flogged, scourged (suffering of physical pain)
- Crucified (suffering of curse and death – the FINAL suffering)
It was as if he were going to collect in his body EVERY kind of suffering – mental, social, physical, psychological, spiritual. Yet, he mentioned “beyond the cross, the crown.” Beyond death, life. Beyond loss, victory.
In contrast to this announcement, we see the worldly ambition of the disciples – particularly James and John and their mother.
Even though the other 10 didn’t ask the same request, they actually FELT the same (look, they were “angry” with their request – it’s like “why didn’t I ask that first?”).
“Can you drink the same cup with me?” (The cup of the cross, suffering, and death) – “We can” – “Indeed, you WILL drink of it.”
The result of this request was anger and indignation on the parts of the other disciples. Heavenly wisdom brings peace among men, but worldly wisdom brings fighting – envy, etc.
Here, Jesus speaks of cross, but the disciples think of “crown.”
This same story is also written in Mark 10. There is a little different explanation. James and John asked this request directly to Jesus, but here in Matthew, it’s their mother, Salome?
Anyway, there is no conflict in the Scripture because they were of the same mind and the brothers also agreed “Yes, we can drink of that cup!”
Salome was a good woman. She was at the cross when Jesus was crucified, and she was one at the tomb early in the morning when Jesus was resurrected – she was likely the sister of Mary (Jesus’ own mother). Likely the two brothers were FULL cousins with Jesus. Therefore, they likely felt that they had a “special place” with Jesus.
Of course, parents want their children honored and promoted to a high position – but sometimes this is DANGEROUS if it causes they to lose sight of GOD’S plan for their children. Sometimes God’s plan is different than parents’ plans – not only glamorous.
So, parent’s plans must be held in check so that God’s will may be done in their lives all the time.
Jesus “You don’t know what you are asking.”
Until after the resurrection, they didn’t understand fully that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, but in the hearts and lives of the true believers.
They also didn’t understand the meaning of this cup mentioned here. He’d also mention this same cup in Matthew 26 in Gethsemane “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, not my will but your will be done.” This is the cup of suffering and death that Jesus had to taste in order to accomplish salvation for all human beings.
So, their request was born in selfishness, flesh, worldliness.
How about you and me?
Yes, sometimes, we don’t know what we need, what we should pray for. Sometimes we know what we WANT but not what we NEED. So, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. So, we pray for the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit.
- “You will indeed drink from my cup.” Do you want to drink of this also?
- “But to sit at my right or left…” Even though they answered “we can” without knowing the true meaning, they did drink of that cup.
- James later dies as a martyr – killed by the sword of King Herod (aged 30s) – in Acts 12.
- John lived MANY years in persecution – and lived his last years in exile on the island of Patmos (after being boiled alive I think?)
- John’s cup came with lots of waiting.
- Jame’s cup was martyrdom. (Soongyo)
- John’s cup was constant discipline and struggle for the Christian life throughout many years.
- Each had its own difficulties. Each drank of his own cup in his own time.
Some people think that Christian’s cup is always a short, sharp, bitter taste of martyrdom. But not always. Sometimes, the cup is daily discipline, tears, heart break – for MANY years.
Are your REALLY Christian? Born again?
If there is a cup for you to drink, are you ready to drink that cup? Willingly? Are you afraid?
There is nothing to fear but fear itself.
God is good all the time, all the time God is good.
God wants us to be happy and joyful and peaceful IN HIM. So, if there is a cup for me and you – it’s because we are able to drink, he enables and empowers us, and it is GOOD for us.
Today in our daily lives, to drink the cup simply means to “follow Christ wherever he goes and to be like him in every situation.”
- The gift of salvation is priceless and yet free.
- But the way of discipleship is not painless and easy.
If we commit to Christ truly, yes, this world will test our commitment. Suffering is the price of commitment – the price of discipleship.
Around us, we may see many brothers and sisters in Christ who face their own challenges in following Christ. Therefore, we need to ENCOURAGE and EDIFY (Eph 4:29) each other to follow Jesus fully and truly.
Do you want to be great? Who is great?
“I’m great!” – not in this world, but in the kingdom of God.
“The last will be first and the first will be last.”
The “Gentiles” = the standard of this world.
In Jesus’ kingdom, we must not follow the standard of this world (Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”)
Our HOPE is in Jesus, not some government, not some program, not some President, celebrity, possession, etc.
Here, a completely NEW set of values has come into our lives.
- In this world, greatness is the power to command others to do something for us.
- In Jesus’ kingdom, greatness is the power to command ourselves to do something for others.
- In this world, greatness is the power to oppress.
- In Jesus’ world, greatness is the power to build up.
- In this world, greatness is our power, bank balance, possessions, the number of people under us.
- In Jesus’ kingdom, greatness is measured by how many people we help and serve, by our attitude and character.
A TRULY great man puts others’ needs before his own – true greatness = service, not dominance.
If we are like this, truly we are in Jesus’ kingdom.
v. 28 is one of the KEY verses in the WHOLE Bible (I told you it was a good memory verse) – along with John 3:16
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Just as this, Jesus is the representative of our actions and attitudes – we must act as he acts, think as he thinks, serve as he serves. We must give our lives in service as he has.
- 1 Peter 2:21 “To this you are called — he has left you an example.”
- John “Whoever claims to be a Christian, must walk as Jesus walked.”
- Hebrews “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature, God, but did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but … he emptied himself, humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”
In every action, thought, etc, ask yourself – “Is this pleasing to Christ? What would he do/think? How would he act?”
Yes, Jesus gave his life as a ransom – a payment – to pay for our complete freedom.
Sin is like a slave market where our souls are sold as slaves – but Jesus by his death buys us from this slave market – indicating complete freedom from sin. He looses bonds and sets us FREE by paying the price of his own precious blood on the cross. He frees us from the curse under the Law by BECOMING a curse for us.
He is our complete freedom and liberty.
Without Christ, his death, his service, we can never find the way back to God. Jesus is THE way, THE truth, THE life. He is not the one who SHOWS the way – he is THE way. It is only Christ who can say this, “No one comes to the Father except through me.”
We must walk in the steps of Christ who has loved us to the uttermost.
- 1 Corinthians 5:20 “I am not my own, you are not your own, we were bought at a price – the price was Jesus’ blood – therefore, honor and glorify God with your bodies.” What was your price?