Author: Ron Graham
Christ Paid the Ransom
—A lesson on “redemption”
In this lesson, we are thinking about "redemption". This is the word that the Bible uses for another thing which God demanded —the payment of a price. In this lesson, we consider why a price had to be paid, why we couldn't pay it ourselves, and how Jesus paid it for us.
1 Why God Insists the Price Must Be Paid
In God’s mind, everything must be fair and square —no compromises, no loose ends, no pretenses, no cosmetic fixes, no legal loopholes, no sneaky deals that make things look right when they are not. Things have to be right, absolutely right and just. God, by nature, cannot tolerate sin, and therefore demands punishment.
Consequently, God required his only Son to become one of us and live the human life to perfection, although no one else had ever done so. Then God demanded that Jesus suffer terrible punishment as a wrongdoer, even though Jesus had done no wrong. Only in this way could Jesus be our substitute so that by virtue of him we might be counted worthy of being accepted with God as righteous.
We Became Enslaved
When a person becomes a sinner, that person passes out of God’s ownership. God’s loss is Satan’s gain. The person now belongs to sin. We must say with Paul, "I am carnal, sold under sin" (Romans 7:14). Of course when Paul says "sold" he does not mean that God ever sold anyone who belonged to him. We sold ourselves like the people of old who "sold themselves to do evil" (2Kings 17:17, 1Kings 21:20).
In God’s judgment, having sold ourselves to sin, we must be regarded as belonging to Satan. That's why God would send us into the eternal punishment prepared for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Why should we share Satan’s destiny if he does not own us? We became his possession when we sinned, and God recognizes that, although he wishes it were otherwise.
Now God can make it otherwise, but he won't fight injustice with injustice. God will not steal from Satan what belongs to Satan, no matter how deceptively Satan came by that ownership. We can be transferred from Satan’s ownership to God’s ownership only upon payment of the proper price. That God demands, and nothing will change his mind.
2 Our Inability To Pay The Price
We sold ourselves for a fool’s price, "the pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:25). But we cannot buy ourselves back, because that requires an impossible price. There is no realistic answer to the question, "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). That is our predicament: to buy back our freedom requires an impossible price. We cannot blame God for this mess; He is not the offender. We are the offenders, and God is the offended.
Our only hope would be to find someone who could pay the price for us —someone who knows the answer to the enigma, "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?". He would have to be someone who never let himself become enslaved to sin, although tempted as much as any other man. Only then would he be in a position to pay the redemption price, and furthermore to pay it for us, because he himself was in no need of redemption.
3 Jesus Provides Price —His Own Blood
That only hope we just mentioned is not forlorn, because there is such a one who can pay the price for us. It is Jesus, and the price is his blood.
Jesus does not have to give anything in exchange for his soul, because he is perfect, so he was in a position to give his own "precious blood" in exchange for the souls of others (Hebrews 4:14-16, Romans 3:23-24, 1Peter 1:18-19).
Synonyms: Liberation, ransom, freedom purchased.
Scriptures: Mark 10:45, Romans 3:23-24, 1Corinthians 1:30, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, Hebrews 9:12, 1Peter 1:18-19.
Related ideas: blood, enslavement, price.
Synopsis: Satan deceived us into selling our souls for a fool's price, and we became his slaves. Our redemption, however, came at a price determined by God, without asking Satan’s agreement or approval. The price had to be right, in order that the transaction be just. But we could not pay the price. So Jesus paid the price for us. With his own "precious blood" he redeemed us. So we have now become the slaves of God who treats us, male and female, as his very sons and heirs.
Greek References: λυτρωσις (lutrosis) 3085 (Strong) with apo- 629, cf 3080-3086 and 3089.