Setting Prisoners Free

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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"Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:28)

A mother of two of Jesus' disciples approached Jesus asking if her sons could sit on each side of him in heaven—a place of honor for sure. Like so many of us, this mother saw success and reward through the standards of the world—but Jesus' life redefined success.

Success is not wealth or power. It is service.

Jesus used this mother's request as a teaching moment. So he gathered all his disciples together. Since they now recognized him as Messiah, he could explain that the Messiah had not come in order to be served, but to serve others and to be a ransom for many.

Ransom? Have you ever thought of yourself as a hostage? In this metaphor, Jesus says he is the ransom paid for your release.

His focus was not on what his sacrifice would cost him, but on the eternal purpose of serving you and me—on freeing us from the imprisonment of sin and despair.

In John's gospel, Jesus explains what it means to serve another, or to exchange our lives to set someone else free. "The greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends" (John 15:13b, NLT).

With these words, Jesus points the way to the sacrifice he is about to make and so encourages us to stop living for ourselves. He wants us to care enough about others that we would willingly lay down our own lives for their sake. This is a hard teaching. Most of us are so busy with our personal agendas. How can we possibly carve out time to serve others?

But reaching out to others is more than a good idea. It mattered enough to Jesus that it became his purpose for living. It is God's will for our lives. We are investing in eternity.

So the next time God taps you on the shoulder to stop what you are working on and help a coworker, he is asking you to colabor with him—and God's work always has eternal significance. Maybe he wants you to help a coworker fighting against deadlines and expectations, who lacks the resources to succeed. Or maybe God is urging you to give up your chair in a crowded room or maybe listen to and comfort a coworker.

We were not meant to work alone but in community with others. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says it best, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken" (NIV).

Your job title, level or position in the company doesn't matter as much as the position of your heart. God cares about people, and when you care about people like Jesus did, then you are working from the heart of God and investing in eternity. When you open your heart to serve others, you are literally setting hostages free.

And you may just discover that you were one of the hostages all along.