Passion of Christ and Purpose of the Life

Jesus Christ came not to be served but to die, to give his life. That sets him apart from the founder of every other major religion. Their purpose was to live and be an example; Jesus’s purpose was to die and be a sacrifice.

Jesus’s choice of the word come is a strong giveaway that he existed before he was born: He came into the world. By saying “did not come to be served,” he assumes that he had every right to expect to be honored and served when he came, though he did not exercise that privilege.

The final phrase, “to give his life as a ransom for many,” sums up the reason why he has to die. Jesus came to be a substitutionary sacrifice. Consider the little preposition for in the phrase “a ransom for many.” In Greek it’s the word anti, which means “instead of,” “in place of,” “substitute.” What about ransom? In English we don’t even use that word nowadays except in relation to kidnapping. But here it translates a Greek word, lutron, that meant “to buy the freedom of a slave or a prisoner.” The ransomer would make a huge sacrificial payment that matched the value, or paid the debt of the slave or the prisoner in order to procure his or her freedom.

Jesus came to pay that kind of ransom. But since the slavery he is dealing with is of a cosmic kind—that is, cosmic evil—it required a cosmic payment. Jesus is saying, “I will pay the ransom that you couldn’t possibly pay, and it will procure your freedom.” The payment is Jesus’s death on the cross.

Timothy Keller, Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God (New York: Riverhead Books, 2013), 153–154.










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