Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
Have you ever asked why biblical authors leave out what they do? Amazingly, the Gospel of Mark skips the birth of Christ. There's no question he had a good, God-breathed reason, but you can hardly imagine not mentioning the God of the universe being born as a tiny, helpless baby boy, infinite God small enough to be held in our arms.
Unlike the others, Mark begins his account with John the Baptist and Jesus' baptism. And the first words out of Jesus' mouth are, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Finally, the King has come. And we learn later in Mark that this kingdom was to expand and overwhelm every other kingdom (Mark 4:30-32). It was a kingdom of power, and it was coming soon (Mark 9:1).
It was a kingdom of beauty, power, majesty, and glory, but it didn't look like a kingdom. This King was born in a stable, into a poor family, here among the beggars and the weak, and he spent most of his life wandering from town to town without a home. Sure, he drew a crowd, but he really focused on just twelve guys. No army, no luxury, no fanfare. Jesus came on the scene as a very unlikely, very abnormal kind of king. In flesh and blood he hides his majesty. His majesty was real and his kingdom was sure, but they were hidden for a time.
Dying to Be King
After eight chapters of unprecedented miracles and mind-blowing teaching in Mark, Jesus was still hiding from the masses and cloaked in mystery. Jesus finally explains to his disciples just what kind of king he would be. "And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again" (Mark 8:31). He would explain his kingship twice more to them (Mark 9:31; 10:33-34), adding that, "they will mock him, and spit on him, and flog him, and kill him."
Why did Jesus come to earth? Why was the baby born? How would he become king? He would conquer and reign by serving and dying for sinners like you and me. The climax of the King's calling comes in Mark 10:45, "Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." For Jesus, the road to the throne was the road to the cross. Love came down in humility as a man in order to be lifted up in sacrifice as a criminal.
Why would a King do such a thing? Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it marvelous?
Hosanna in the Highest
A couple short years later, Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem with shouts and songs. "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!" (Mark 11:9-10). It was a true reception for a true King. The Pharisees hated hearing Jesus treated this way. They hated the idea that this humble carpenter born in Bethlehem might be the King of Israel. But those with eyes to see, and hearts to receive their King, saw him for what he was, and they loved him.
Just a few short days later, another crowd screamed, "Crucify him!" In one final act of rebellion, they tried to suppress the truth and subdue the King. But in the very same moment that they thought they had beaten him and ended his effort to rule the world, he was rescuing the world and revealing himself as Savior, King, and Lord. All the majesty, glory, and power that had been veiled in human flesh was unleashed when he rose from the grave and ascended into heaven.
Love came down to be born like us, as a little child.
Love came down to to be executed in our place as an innocent man.
And love came down to be lifted up again as a risen and reigning King.