The King Came

 

 “Why did you come here?” It was a question I was repeatedly asked as I walked through the streets of Maracaibo, Venezuela. I was a tall, burly pale redhead in a land of full of latinos with olive skin and dark hair. I stood out like a sore thumb so I was repeatedly asked, “Why did you come?” Because I looked different and seemed out of place, people wondered what brought me a foreign country. The Eternal Son was out of place in our earthly world. He is perfectly righteous and holy. He was the Eternal God who did not consider equality to be grasped so he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant. What was his purpose? What did Jesus come to the earth?

            There could be many possible ways we could answer these questions, but there are three statements in the gospels that shed light on the what and how of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Each verse begins with, “The Son of Man came,” allowing us to see his mission and how he fulfilled his mission. As Christians who desire to follow our King it would be wise to pause and reflect on the purpose of His coming so that we can become like Him.

The King Came to Seek and Save (Luke 19:10)

            Jesus entered Jericho and met a tax colleting fraud named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was befriended by Jesus and who invited himself into Zacchaeus’ home for dinner. In the process of that dinner conversation, Zacchaeus repented of his sins and put his faith in Jesus as Lord. The purpose of that encounter is summarized in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus was being mocked by the religious elite who grumbled in how he reached out to a fraud. Jesus’ kindness did not make sense to the Jews because they did not share the same mission. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost while the Jews wanted to protect and preserve the traditions of their community.  Jesus came to reach the frauds, the fakes, and the fools with the power of the gospel.

            Jesus’ entire life was wrapped up in his mission to bring salvation to the world. If we are going to follow in his steps, then we also must live to seek and to save the lost. Jesus seeks and saves primarily through two ways which are highlighted in the next two statements.

The King Came to Sip and Celebrate (Matthew 11:19)

            Jesus was always surrounded by controversy. He was followed be fans and skeptics his whole life. People did not know what do to with Jesus as they did not know what to do with John the Baptist. They claimed that John the Baptist had a demon because of his ascetic lifestyle. They claimed that Jesus was to free in his celebrations with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus’ ministry was built around the table. It has been said that the gospels show Jesus going to a meal, at a meal or leaving a meal. Matthew 11:19, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Jesus spent time with sinners. How could he seek and save the lost unless he was willing to spend time in their presence?

            It is so easy to cloister ourselves into a Christian bubble. Jesus lived his life among the people so that they would be confronted with truth and righteousness through his words and deeds. If we want to recover the heart of Jesus’ ministry, then we must recover his focus on spending time with the lost around the table. It is the simplest of ministries. We all eat. We do not have to add anything new to our schedule, but simply invite people to our table. And we invite people to our table, we are picturing how the Lord has invited us to his table. All of history is moving towards the Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb. On Good Friday, we celebrate the lamb who was slain to take away the sin of the world and that we have the great privilege to offer a foretaste of that Supper as we invite sinners to our table. Jesus shares this parable in Luke 14,

But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” (Luke 14:16-24)

The cross is our reminder to go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that God’s house may be filled. Jesus came eating and drinking as a foretaste of the kingdom of God. Let us go and do likewise.

The King Came to Serve and Sacrifice (Mark 10:45)

            Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and He sought the lost by inviting people to fellowship with him around the table, but it would all have been for nothing if he did not finish his atoning work in becoming our ransom. The key verse in Mark’s Gospel is Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus came to serve and give his life as a ransom. The Eternal Son, the Creator of the Universe, the Prince of Peace, the King of Glory, the immortal God humbled himself by taking on the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness. God became our Passover Lamb who was slain to take away our sins.

            Christians celebrate Jesus on Good Friday, but the only way we can truly celebrate is to first meditate on our own sin. We deserve to die. We deserve to be punished for our iniquity. We deserve to be crushed for our sin and rebellion. How many times have we harbored bitterness against others and grumbled in discontentment? How many times have we loved worldly things over God and neglected our true purpose in life? How many times have we deliberately sinned? My list is long. And if you are honest, so is yours. God is so holy and righteous that to spurn his grace deserves nothing but his furious wrath. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31) We will never appreciate Good Friday unless we understand the gross nature of our sin and the just punishment it deserves. Allow the weight of our rightly deserved punishment to weigh down our souls. Take a whole minute just to think of your sin.

            And now think that Jesus gave his life for it all. Jesus became our ransom. His blood was shed. His body was crushed. He was forsaken and smitten by God. And he did it willing: for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross; for our sake, he became sin who knew no sin.

 

 

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

 

 

He died for you. Does the death of Christ amaze you? We never outgrow our need of hearing the beauty and majesty of the death of Christ for sinners. Jesus paid our ransom.

 

In his book Written In Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion, he writes,

The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.

"Would you give your blood to Mary?" the doctor asked.  Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, "Sure, for my sister." Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room--Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny's smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube.

With the ordeal almost over, his voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence. "Doctor, when do I die?'

Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he'd agreed to donate his blood. He's thought giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life.[1]

Johnny was willing to die to save the life of his sister. Fortunately, Johnny did not have to die, but our condition is far worse. Our sinful condition required Jesus to give not only his blood, but his life as our ransom. Johnny did it for his sister, Jesus did it for sinners.

            Jesus freely offers his life to all, but notice Mark 10:45 says that Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus offered his life to all, but his ransom was only paid for those who repent of their sin and trust in Christ. Jesus offers his life to all, but his death is only effective for those who receive him as a Lord and Savior. Jesus is our Savior because he died for us and our Lord because he was raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God Most High. Have you placed all your hope for forgiveness and acceptance of God in the death of Christ on your behalf? Is Jesus your ransom? Are you one of the many who will trust Him or one of those who turn away?

            We gather today as God’s people to remember and rejoice in the death of Christ for our sake. Jesus came to serve and sacrifice himself for his people. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) Beloved, tonight, we come to the feast, we come to the table, the great and the least, the rich and the poor, only because Christ is our ransom. The cross of Jesus Christ declares us guilty of sin, but it also demonstrates God’s immense love for us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Beloved, let us come to the table remembering Christ our Ransom. He came to seek and to save sinners, like you and me, by serving them in giving his life as our sacrifice, our Ransom.  

 

[1] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/a/atonement.htm accessed 3.25.16