The enormity of God's accomplishments in Jesus' death is often hidden from today's Christian for two reasons: (1) time [2000 years have passed]; (2) slavery [this is not a common, everyday experience in our society]. Purchasing freedom from slavery was a common, understood reality in the first century world. It was such a common occurrence that specific words existed to refer to the ransom paid to end slavery and provide freedom. In the English language, those words are reflected in the words "redeem" and "redemption."
In the first century people become slaves in many ways. Common ways included birth, prisoners of war, indebtedness, selling yourself, selling your children, abandoned infants, punishment for criminal acts, and kidnapping. Many who were slaves from birth longed to experience freedom. Many who experienced freedom prior to slavery longed to experience freedom again. For slaves, hope for freedom rested in payment of a ransom. A slave could be free only if a price was paid.
Evil is terrible. It is never harmless. While evil enslaves people's minds and bodies, it does more than that. God is the origin of human life (Genesis 1:26-28). Human life is designed in God's likeness and image. Humans by design are to share parts of God's nature. Evil destroys the design God gave us. Evil perverts human existence in the physical world and brings disaster on human existence beyond death. People deserve everything evil does to us. When we surrender to temptation, we sell ourselves to Satan (John 8:34). As Satan's slaves, we are powerless to free ourselves.
In his letter to Titus, Paul spoke of the Christian's ransom from evil's slavery (Titus 2:11-14). God's goodness fully expressed itself. Because evil no longer is able to limit God's expression of goodness, salvation is available to all people. As children who receive complete guidance, Christians are instructed to do two things. First, they are directed to deny ungodliness and the desires that oppose God. Second, they are directed to live sensible [self-restrained], upright, godly lives on a daily basis in their actual circumstances. As they live such lives, they are sustained by a certain expectation of Jesus Christ's return and the revealing of God. They appreciate the fact that Jesus gave himself for us. He paid the price to set us free. He redeemed us. Because he paid the price to set us free, he expects two things from us. First, he redeemed us to set us free from lawless acts we committed. He expects us to abandon those lawless acts. Second, he redeemed us in order that we could be exclusively his people, purified by him, committed to his good works. He expects us to be committed to his purposes without reservation. Note the emphasis on the ransom, the price.
Christians are ransomed from their slavery to evil because of one truth: Jesus Christ paid the price to release us.
In his letter to Ephesian Christians, Paul spoke of the Christian's ransom from evil's slavery (Ephesians 1:7,8). In Jesus Christ the Christian has redemption. Jesus Christ redeemed (freed) the Christian from his or her slavery to evil. The ransom price was Jesus' own blood. The result: Jesus used his blood to pay our ransom so we could have forgiveness for our violations of God's expectations. We are free, the ransom was paid because God is good, not because we are good. God provided us the wealth of His goodness through Jesus Christ, and He gave us His goodness in enormous abundance.
In a letter to Corinthian Christians, Paul spoke about the meaning of the Christian's ransom from evil's slavery (1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 7:21-23). When the Christian accepts the ransom, his or her body becomes the Holy Spirit's temple. The Holy Spirit lives in the Christian. God places him there. The Christian no longer belongs to self. God bought the Christian by paying his or her price of release from evil's slavery. Because (1) God paid the price and (2) Christians are ransomed from evil, the purpose for the Christian's body totally changes. The ransomed Christian now uses his or her body to honor (glorify) God. Note again the emphasis on the price.
God regards the actual physical circumstances of a person's life [at the moment he or she accepts ransom paid by Jesus] as insignificant. God did not care if the Corinthian was a slave or freeman. Accepting the Lord's ransom gave a slave a new form of freedom. The same acceptance made the freeman the Lord's slave. When one becomes a Christian, he becomes God's slave. God frees him from evil's slavery. God paid the ransom required for freedom to exist. The Christian's responsibility is to serve God as God's slave. Note again the emphasis on the price.
The person writing Hebrews combined Jesus Christ, the role of the high priest, sacrifice, and the payment of a ransom price that is eternal. In Hebrews 9:11, 12 Jesus Christ is presented as the Christian's high priest. A Jewish high priest served as mediator between the pure God and sinful people. However, Jesus Christ was quite different from a Jewish high priest. The Jewish high priesthood began by a high priest serving in a physical sacred tent [the tabernacle]. Jesus served as high priest in the eternal sacred tent [God's sanctuary in heaven]. A Jewish high priest took animal blood in the physical sacred tent to mediate before God (see Leviticus 16). Not only did he use animal blood, but the necessary process was repeated on an annual basis. Jesus took his own blood as a sacrifice into the eternal sacred tent. He did so only once. One sacrifice of Jesus' blood paid the price (made the ransom) and solved the problem. His blood produced eternal redemption. All have access to Jesus' blood. Those who accept his blood obtain eternal redemption.
Questions to think about and discuss:
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 3
previous page | table of contents | next lesson