In Mark’s Gospel, the first ten chapters cover the three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry. And the final six chapters cover one week, the Passion Week. Up to this point, Jesus has been training the twelve disciples, teaching them His heart and His kingdom values, and showing them what happens when the rule and reign of God shows up in the lives of people. Before we enter into the final week of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has one more lesson for the disciples and for us… a lesson that’s the culmination of His heart and His mission for this world. The heart of Mark 10:32-52 calls us to pray and live out the Servant Prayer:
#1 To know what You have done for me
“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 10:45). Jesus doesn’t give His life simply as the supreme example of servanthood. Something much larger is happening… something much more significant. When Jesus dies on the cross and gives His life for us, He pays a ransom. He’s paying the price to free us from the penalty of our sin and rebellion against God. Jesus giving “His life a ransom for many” is the clearest statement in Mark’s Gospel about the redemptive purpose of God in Jesus’ death.
On the cross, Jesus dies in our place as a substitute. We deserved death because of our sin and treason against God, but Jesus takes it in our stead. We are freed from and forgiven the penalty of our sin. Understanding this is crucial as we press into the remainder of this Servant Prayer. It is the heart change that Jesus accomplishes as He pays the penalty for our sin that enables us to then live out Jesus’ heart of servanthood.
Pastor Tullian Tchividjian wrote in his book Surprised by Grace:
It’s the gospel (what Jesus has done) that alone can give God-honoring animation to our obedience. The power to obey comes from being moved and motivated by the completed work of Jesus for us. The fuel to do good flows from what’s already been done. So, while the law directs us, only the gospel can drive us.
It is only as we grow in our understanding and application of what Jesus has done for us that we begin to grow in our understanding and application of serving the people and world around us.
#2 To seek greatness in serving
Each year USA Today honors overlooked and often unappreciated football players by naming them to what the newspaper calls its All-Joes Team. Now in its 19th year, the All-Joes award celebrates men who sacrifice their egos for the good of their team. USA Today writes:
Our Joes are not average or even sloppy, but rather unheralded, unloved and, sometimes, underpaid since the one prerequisite for being an All-Joe is that you cannot have a Pro Bowl on your résumé. The NFL’s stars wouldn’t succeed without the adjacent All-Joes. They would never make the Pro Bowl minus those who perform the grittier tasks. That’s one reason the All-Joe team doesn’t allow Pro Bowl picks on its roster and it lends bitter truth to its motto: If you work hard, good things will happen — to someone else.
The motto of the All Joes team really is applicable to those who are servant-hearted: “If you work hard, good things will happen… to someone else.” I’d tweak it… if you live in the grace of Jesus Christ, good things will happen… in and through you… to the people in your world as you serve them in the name of Jesus. We serve others because Jesus first served us. And the Servant Prayer calls us to seek greatness in serving others. While the world entices us with the idols of power, position, and prestige, Jesus invites us to pick up the towel and basin and wash feet. D.L. Moody once said, “The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.” Seek greatness in Jesus’ His kingdom by serving.
#3 To follow You with spiritual eyes
The Servant Prayer ends by asking Jesus for the spiritual eyes to follow Him… asking Jesus for the gift of seeing people and the world around us the way He sees people and the world around us. It is asking Jesus to give us the spiritual eyes to be people who are servant-hearted and kingdom-minded. It is asking Jesus to give us the spiritual eyes to see through the deception of the world’s values and to give us the spiritual eyes to live with kingdom values. Jesus, please grant me the faith to follow You with spiritual eyes… with eyes that know what You have fully done for me… with eyes and a heart that seek greatness in serving others. Jesus, please grant me the faith to follow You with spiritual eyes as I deny and surrender myself and daily pick up my servant’s cross and servant’s towel and follow after You.
When we pray the Servant Prayer, we’re transformed by Jesus’ great grace to be people that follow Him and serve the world around us with His eyes. We become people who are servant-hearted and kingdom-minded.
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