For even the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
I. HOW IT DISPLAYED ITSELF. In a quasi-concealment: reversal of order and method of worldly greatness. The great of this world exercise authority for the most part and generally to their own advantage, and the loss and denudation of others. This precedent is only mentioned that it may be condemned. The greatness of the Son of man showed itself in:
1. Service. Typically set forth in the washing of the disciples' feet (John 13:4). Realized:
(1) In his position. Incarnate: born into the pain and shame of sinful humanity. In humble social circumstances; accustomed to labor and obedience to authority.
(2) In his work. His whole life, in its example, teaching, and miracles, was a ministry. What men needed was help, and he rendered it. And that his doing so might not be regarded as accidental, he declares it as the purpose of his coming into the world. And in relation to God, in the demands of his Law, he was obedient," fulfilling all righteousness."
2. Sacrifice. The culmination and seal of service. "To give his life" "indicates the climax of the service in which he was engaged (comp. Philippians 2:6: obedient - obedient unto death on the cross). The term ministering expresses the spirit of the life of Christ. His sufferings and death illustrated and displayed the submission of his whole course; they shed the fullest light on the object of his life" (Lange).
II. WHAT IT WAS TO ACHIEVE. It was to be no barren spectacle, or merely personal glory, but was to exert a practical influence upon the condition of those amongst whom he came. The kind of work it had to do corresponded to the needs of man. It was for men the Son of man lived. And as they were in a state of wretchedness and danger, he undertook to save them. In respect of this purpose the death of Christ availed for:
1. Redemption. His life was given as the ransom. "It is the first distinct utterance, we may note, of the plan and method of his work. He had spoken before of 'saving' the lost (Matthew 18:11); now he declares that the work of ' salvation' was to be also one of redemption.' It could only be accomplished by the payment of a price, and that price was his own life" (Plumptre). The natural state of men is one of bondage to sin. A "ransom" is an equivalent for a man's life or service (cf. Exodus 21:30; Leviticus 25:50; Proverbs 13:8). This price our Savior gave "instead of" ("for") men, as their Representative before God - in a certain sense as their Substitute (cf. Matthew 17:27; Hebrews 12:16; Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:19).
2. The redemption of many. "The expression 'many' is not intended to indicate an exclusive minority, or a smaller number as compared with all, for the latter expression occurs in Romans 5:18; 1 Timothy 2:4. The term is intended rather by way of antithesis to the one whose life was the ransom of the many (Lange). Its efficacy was to be felt far beyond the personality in which it first took place. We are invited to take wide, comprehensive views of the work of Christ. And there is nothing in the language of Scripture to lead to the supposition that only some may be saved. That which avails for one will avail for all who choose to comply with the condition of salvation, viz. faith in the Lord Jesus Christ's death as an atoning sacrifice for sin. The sinlessness and perfect obedience of Christ are his qualification for this work.
III. IN WHAT WAY IT SHOULD BE ACKNOWLEDGED. The verse commences with for" - a word connecting it with the previous verses, to which it is appended as a reason for what is there enjoined. Our duty, therefore, with respect to the service and sacrifice he has rendered is:
1. To accept them for ourselves. By believing in the redemptive work of Christ we honor him, and the Father by whom he was sent.
2. To imitate his spirit. His kingdom is based upon service, and its dignities and authorities are the result of the spontaneous affection thereby secured. Service and self-humiliation are not only means toward the attainment of future greatness; they are that greatness already. Offices in the Church are not thereby abolished; they are only interpreted as functions of love: all dignity and authority otherwise derived are discountenanced, and convicted as usurpations.
3. To declare his work amongst men. In so doing we shall truly glorify him, and extend his kingdom to the ends of the earth. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.