We hear the word “ransom” and probably think of one of the following definitions:
- A person who is kidnapped and held against their will for an exorbitant price;
- A Christian concept that involves Jesus dying and raising himself from the dead mostly sung about in that one song around Christmas time when we celebrate his birthday and overlook his sacrifice.
How did we ever divorce these two definitions from each other?
When Scripture says the ransom is paid and we are free from the bondage of slavery, it’s not talking about a frou-frou and cerebral concept that we’re free from this thing we didn’t even know was a problem. It’s certainly not as visceral as a kidnapping and a ransom, a la the movie Taken (and its sequel we do not speak of). It’s not the same as the traumatic experiences that an actual kidnapping and ransom would be (I feel very strongly about this issues, so I am not making light of anxiety or PTSD).
It’s not as simple as a ransom to be paid or else you die.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
You were already dead in your sin and held captive by your sin nature.
Read that again and again until you feel the weight of that statement.
There is no amount of money you could pay, fame you can achieve, or plan you can devise to get out of that fact. None.
Let’s read a story.
Once upon a time, there was a dad and a son. They were happy, perfect, and in harmony with each other.
They decided to make a world – a perfect world, where they could create and enjoy the creation. They filled it with creatures of all types – leafy things that grew tall, and little bugs that crawled, and big fish that were gentle, and birds that sang. It was wonderful.
They decided to share their joy with another creation, this time one that looked like themselves. They made two of them and were close friends – the two like-things had a relationship as tight as the father and the son. The father and son gave these like-things eternal life in peace, but also the ability of choice – a choice to follow their example by following a single rule, or to be held captive by pain and suffering and this thing they had never experienced called Sin.
One day, the rule was broken.
The created beings were instantly kidnapped by this thing called Sin because the rule meant that Sin could do that. The like-things still knew the father and the son but it wasn’t the same as before the rule was broken – now they were prisoners to another thing with no way out and with a ransom so high they could never get enough to satisfy Sin.
The creations perpetuated themselves into a strong family. They were still held prisoner, but coping as best they could away from the father and the son.
Eventually, the two like-things died real, physical deaths and Sin still held their children captive because the ransom hadn’t been paid.
Time passed. Promises were made, and broken, by the next generation, and the next, and the next. The only way to fix the broken rule was for the ransom to be paid for all of them, all at once.
The only person who could pay it was the father, and the cost was the giving up of the son to this thing called Sin. The father knew this would be a sad day, but also that this was the only way to pay the ransom to Sin once and for all his Creation.
The son knew this too.
So the son went into the world he had made – he had to become very small – and he became a like-thing, the best and most perfect like-thing that ever was. And just as was needed, in the prime of his life among the like-things, he paid the ransom by offering himself to Sin as payment for the freedom of all of the like-things forever, before and after all time.
In that moment when the like-things became free, the relationship between the father and the son broke like it did when the like-things had broken the rule, but infinitely more painful. It was so painful that it killed the son – or paying the ransom killed the son, no one really understands that part.
The story has a happy ending – the son was brought back to life because Sin couldn’t hold him prisoner like it did the like-things – but the story also isn’t over yet.
Anyone who believes this story – really believes it – has their ransom paid. This means that the eternal life from the beginning of Creation brings life to the dead, and the ransom that could never be accomplished alone is counted for them.
This is the story. This is your life.
So let’s stop thinking about Christ ransoming us like he did us a favor. He did so much more, and at the highest price anyone could pay.
How will Christ’s payment of the ransom you could never pay change you? How does the freedom you are offered change how you interact with others? How is God calling you to respond today? Tell us, tell God, tell someone because this story must be told.