42 Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. 43 But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. 44 Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all, 45 for the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.” Mark 10:42-45, CEB
This is one of the few passages in the Gospels that give us an idea of what Jesus’ death accomplished. If we’re talking about God’s story, then we should at least have some idea of what is going on at the most climactic moment. The Gospels don’t give us a ton of insight there, though plenty of other places do. So, anyway, this is one of those uniquely Gospel insights on Jesus’ death.
He gives us a few insights here. He gives us insight on both life and death. Jesus’ life, in his words, was about service. It wasn’t about authority or power or status but, instead, the ability to humbly serve. It was about freely choosing a lower place in society in an effort to prioritize others. Both Jesus’ life and death model this mentality. His death served as a sacrifice that led to our freedom and liberation. This idea is a bit more foreign to us than it would be to those at the time. It was common in the Old Testament to think of death (of, say, an animal) as something that leads to the redemption of others. For Jesus, this kind of death is a humble act of service that frees us from the bondage of lives lived apart from God.
In Jesus, God came and freely gave himself to the world. He came as a model, or as a demonstration, of what life following God might look like. And then he gave himself up in order that we might be forgiven, redeemed, restored, and freed. God’s story has always been one of trying to draw his people and his creation close to himself even as we find ever more new ways to pull away. Jesus’ death is the final action in a long string of actions that draws creation back to God.
He just keeps coming after us, and he’s not done yet.