“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (Read v. 32-45)

These words of Jesus say so much to us as believers. It is as Jesus told James and John, and all His disciples (v. 35ff.; cf. Matthew 20:20ff.): “Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (v. 43-44).

Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and so also His disciples and especially Christian pastors and ministers. They are called, not to be served by their congregations, but to serve their congregations. Like Jesus, they give up their own lives (their personal goals and ambitions) for the eternal welfare of their fellow believers.

Of course, the same is also true of husbands and wives in marriage. A husband and wife do not enter the covenant of marriage to be served but to meet the needs of their spouse (cf. Ephesians 5:22ff.). It means giving up personal goals and ambitions for the good of the marriage partner and the new family unit.

And, while some may desire positions of preeminence and glory, followers of Christ count it such a blessing to even be admitted to Christ’s kingdom — it’s all God’s gracious gift, neither earned nor deserved — they are happy to be servants that others, too, might come to know and trust in Christ Jesus as Savior.

It would be better to wash dishes in the kingdom of heaven than to be served like a king or queen in the kingdoms of this world. And, if I am granted to be but a dishwasher in heaven’s banquet kitchen, it’s still only by God’s grace and mercy and far more than I deserve – I remain thankful.

Finally, and most important for us all is the fact that Jesus came to serve and give His life a ransom for many. Indeed, He gave His life as a ransom for all, as St. Paul writes: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Jesus “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).

If Jesus had come to be served and had not willingly suffered and died on the cross for our sins, where would we be now? Lost forever! Cursed and condemned to hell! But Jesus “redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). Through faith in His name, we have pardon, forgiveness and have a place in His eternal, heavenly kingdom. What a blessing this is!

And, it is precisely because Jesus came to serve and to be a ransom for all that we serve Him and give up our lives in this world that others too might come to know Jesus and what He has done to serve them! God grant that we be served by Jesus and that we then serve others!

We thank you, dearest Jesus, for serving our greatest need and atoning for our sins by going to the cross and dying in our stead. Grant that we also serve others by living to tell of You and Your atoning sacrifice for the sins of all. Amen.

[Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

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“And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.” Mark 14:72 (Read v. 66-72)

Do we weep over our sins? Do we consider what they cost the Lord Jesus when He suffered and died upon the cross? Do we treat His blood, shed for us upon the cross, as common and unholy? Cf. Hebrews 10:29

Peter had just denied his Lord a third time before the rooster crowed a second time. He had rejected Jesus’ words and vehemently affirmed that he would never deny the Lord Jesus (v. 26-31). But he had done it. He denied his Lord three times!

“And when he thought thereon, he wept.” When he remembered Jesus’ words and considered his sin, he wept (v. 72).

Psalm 51:16-17 says: “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

Like David, in the Old Testament, Peter saw and acknowledged his sin unto the Lord and looked to Him for forgiveness (cf. Psalm 51:1-13).

In 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, the apostle Paul wrote: “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

As we remember the many ways in which we have betrayed and denied Jesus, our sins which were the cause of Jesus’ suffering and death, hopefully, we too are moved to sorrow, like Peter, who “when he thought thereon, he wept.”

Psalm 34:18 also tells us: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

And, let that sorrow lead us to repentance – to be sorry for our sins and to trust in Christ Jesus and His death upon the cross in our stead for pardon and forgiveness and life everlasting!

God grant that we consider our sins and what they have done to Jesus, but that we then also place our faith in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world that we might obtain pardon and life eternal through faith in Jesus’ name!

Forgive us, O Jesus, for betraying You by our sins and denying You to avoid sharing in Your suffering and pain. For the sake of Your cross, grant us mercy and forgiveness that we might serve You and hold fast to You as our Savior and Lord unto life everlasting! Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible]

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“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” John 3:19-21

Why do people not come to Jesus? Why do they avoid reading their Bibles and going to churches where the Word of God is taught and proclaimed? Why do they even try to silence the preaching of God’s Word and keep its message from being posted and proclaimed on the Internet and in the media? They love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil!

This is true of every one of us as we are by nature. What did Adam and Eve do after they had sinned and then heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden? They hid themselves from the presence of God (Genesis 3:8).

What do we do when we fall into some sin? Are we eager to hear God’s Word? Are we anxious to go to church where we might be reproved for our wickedness? No, none of us likes to have our evil deeds exposed. So, we attempt to hide, cover up and make excuses for our sin. We would rather stay in the darkness instead of letting the light expose our wickedness.

Instead of allowing that light to shine and agreeing with God that our thoughts, words and actions are full of evil and wickedness – instead of letting the light shine down deep into our hearts and acknowledging that our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (cf. Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19-20) – we love the darkness where we can pretend that we are not all that evil, that our sins are only diseases and weaknesses for which we should not be held fully accountable. We like the darkness where we can imagine that God is pleased with us and will accept us on the merit of our own works and accomplishments. But, of course, it’s all a lie – that same lie of which the father of lies has tried to convince mankind from the beginning.

The light, on the other hand, exposes evil and wickedness. It reveals the utter sinfulness of sin. It shows us the wickedness of our own hearts and reveals to us that even our best righteousnesses are filthy before God (Isaiah 64:6). But the light – the truth of God’s Word – also reveals to all who stand in its brightness that Jesus is God the Son in human flesh, that He went to the cross to suffer and die and make atonement for the sins of the world, that He rose again in victory on the third day, that in Him there is pardon and forgiveness, and that through faith in Him there is life everlasting! (Cf. John 3:14-17).

People don’t like to come to Jesus, the Light of the world, because He exposes the sinfulness and wickedness of our hearts and deeds. They would rather stay in the darkness and not be confronted with the unadulterated truth, but the result is death and condemnation; for they do not accept the truth about their utter sinfulness and they do not look to Jesus and trust in Him alone for life and salvation (John 3:18)!

In his first epistle, the apostle John writes it this way (1 John 1:7 – 2:2): “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins [the Greek word homologeo, which means to say the same thing as God], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

In Psalm 32:1-5, David wrote: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.”

It does no good to hide from the truth. It will benefit us nothing to pretend we are not sinners deserving of God’s everlasting wrath and punishment. The end result is to die in our sins and bear our just punishment.

But, when we acknowledge our sins and agree with God’s truth about our sinfulness and look in faith to Jesus, who was lifted up on the cross to be condemned for us and atone for all our sins and iniquities, we have forgiveness and life eternal. God grant that we walk in this light!

Dear Lord Jesus, shine the light of truth upon my heart and life and expose my sin and guilt that I might see the wickedness and error of my ways and turn to You and Your shed blood for cleansing, forgiveness and life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge … The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:1-2,7 (Read Psalm 19)

Does anyone have an excuse? Can anyone say I didn’t know there was an almighty and all-wise God? The answer is no. Why? Because God’s creation (as well as the law of God written upon man’s heart) testifies to the existence of an almighty, all-wise creator to whom we are responsible for our lives and to whom we must one day give account.

It is as the Psalm says (v. 1-6), “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof….”

Each night the stars testify of God’s infinite wisdom and almighty power; and each day, as the sun runs its course from the eastern sky to the western, it bears witness to the strength and majesty of its maker. Who could make such a grand universe if He Himself were not wise and powerful beyond all measure!

Such testimony from creation should move us to seek out our Creator, to learn of Him and to serve Him. And, thankfully, He has with all clarity made Himself known to us in the pages of the Bible – His inspired revelation to us. Thus, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple….”

The law (Torah) in this psalm refers not just to laws and commandments but to all the Sacred Scriptures. This law tells us of God and creation, man’s fall into sin and God’s plan of salvation through the gift of His Son. The law reveals God’s holy commandments and our utter failure to live up to God’s expectations (in thoughts, desires, words and deeds), but it also reveals the salvation God provided when He sent His only-begotten Son into this world as a man to fulfill all righteousness for us and to die on the cross and pay in full for the sins of all mankind and then rise again.

As the apostle Paul writes, the inspired Scriptures “are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15; cf. 2 Peter 1:19-21).

Can anyone claim excuse? Can anyone escape God’s judgment saying, I didn’t know? Not at all! For all of creation reveals the existence of God, and this God has made Himself and the salvation He provided for us known in His Word!

We thank You, almighty God, that You have revealed Yourself to us through Your mighty works and that You make Yourself and Your mercy in Christ Jesus known to us through the pages of Your Word. Grant us the wisdom to hear Your testimony and to trust in Your mercy. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

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“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37 (Read v. 34-38)

Salvation in Christ Jesus is entirely God’s free gift to us. We contribute nothing to the work of Christ. He fulfilled the law in our stead. He suffered our just punishment and made atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world. And it is only by the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit that we have come to see our utter sinfulness and to trust in Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Savior and continue in saving faith (cf. Ephesians 1:3ff.; 2:8-9; Titus 3:3-7).

But, as believers in Christ, justified by faith, Jesus calls us to follow Him and be His disciples and to deny ourselves and all our sinful lusts and desires. He calls us to forsake this world and the love of the things this world has to offer and to seek Him and His eternal kingdom. He even calls us to take up our crosses and to suffer as His followers in this fallen world (v. 34ff.; Matthew 6:33; 1 John 2:15-17; John 15:18ff.; Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus’ adds words of warning for us with two pointed questions: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

We all agree that a soul for which Christ shed His holy and precious blood upon the cross is of more value than all the goods and pleasures of this world. We all agree that our own souls and the salvation of our souls is of greater value and importance than anything this world has to offer us. But, do we live in accord with our stated belief?

Consider Esau in the Old Testament, who traded his birthright – including the promise to be in the ancestral line of the promised Savior – for one meal (cf. Genesis 25:29-34; Hebrews 12:16-17). For the sake of one earthly meal, He gave up gave up eternal blessings.

And what about us? Are we following Christ and using the goods of this world for the furtherance of His kingdom? Or, are we pursuing the things this world offers and only following Christ when it is convenient to do so? Are we denying ourselves and our earthly goals and ambitions to follow our Savior, trusting that His way is indeed best? Or are we indulging ourselves in this world and only using Christ as some sort of eternal fire insurance?

Indeed, we are justified by grace alone and through faith alone in Christ Jesus. Eternal life is indeed the free gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, but the wages of sin is still death (Romans 5:1ff.; 6:23). If we turn back into sin, if we turn back from following Christ, we have so much to lose. If we are ashamed of Christ Jesus and His words, He will be ashamed of us at His coming on the Last Day (v. 38).

Again, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Dear Lord Jesus, grant us faith which moves us to deny ourselves and follow You, faith which seeks first You and Your kingdom, faith which is not ashamed of You and Your words, faith which confesses You and holds fast to you and Your Word unto life everlasting. Amen.

Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible

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