Christ our Ransom
by Pastor Craig Baxter
We are probably all familiar with the concept of ransom. It is the price paid for the release of captives. Normally the payment is in the form of a large sum of money paid to the captors in exchange for the life or lives of others.
In the gospel of Mark Jesus identified Himself as a kind of ransom payment for people. He said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). In this pronunciation Jesus revealed a disturbing reality: because of the fall, all humanity is now subject to the bondage of sin and captive to the eternal wrath of God (Rom 5:9), and thus in need of ransoming.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Psalm 49 further establishes our startling dilemma. The Psalmist says, “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit” (49:7-9). The Psalmist is saying in effect, no person can pay to God the price necessary for the release of oneself or the release of another from captivity. The price is too high and the difficulty too great.
This difficulty lies in the fact that sinful humanity does not have the currency necessary to make the exchange. It cannot be made with silver or gold (Acts 3:6) or the so called “good works” from unrighteous hands (Rom 3:20; Eph 2:9). This is where the saying “But for the grace of God” comes to a crescendo. The currency necessary to pay the ransom is none other than the moral perfection found only in the perfect man, Christ Jesus. God made the necessary payment to Himself by putting forward His Son “as a propitiation by his blood” (Rom 3:25) for our sins, for “the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
It is for this reason the cross of Christ is for the Christian not now an emblem of reproach and shame, but one of mercy, love, and wondrous glory. Take this in Christian! We have mounted up for ourselves a debt so great by besmirching God’s glory that no amount of time spent, tears shed, or effort exerted could ever pay it back. BUT God … in love sets forth His Son to pay our penalty and release us from the chains of captivity to sin and judgement and re-establish us in His love for now and all eternity. Remember this, as you reflect upon the ransom made for you this Easter, “… You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:19-20). May this be our reasonable sacrifice for the One who gave Himself for us (Rom 12:1-2).