Today: Saturday, December 07, 2019

Redeemed    (6/17/2018 )

When modern day pirates capture sailors off the east coast of Africa, their motive generally is money.  They imprison their hostages until someone comes forward to pay for their release.

It’s one of the dilemmas governments sometimes face - whether to pay up and get the prisoner released, or to hold out in the belief that paying any kind of ransom only encourages more piracy.

The idea of paying a ransom to set a prisoner free can be traced back a long way in history.  In some of the wars between France and England in the Middle Ages, it became quite a trade.  You didn’t always try to kill your enemy because you could actually make money by capturing them alive and selling them back to their family and friends.

The Bible often talks about our being prisoners.  We have been captured by some enemy and we are no longer free.  Who or what the enemy might be is not so important - it might be fear or guilt, it could be loneliness or some destructive way of life.  Ultimately though it is the whole regime of sin and evil, the threat of death and darkness.  We are trapped in the consequences of our rebellion against God.

Jesus, through his death on the cross, becomes the friend who pays the price, who redeems us from the powers that hold us, who sets us free and brings us home.  But saying it like that makes it sound rather like a government’s policy decision, or like a commercial transaction - here’s the money, can we have our friend back now?

When the New Testament writers talked about redemption, being bought back, they were picturing something much more profound.  God, they were saying, has entered into the suffering  of the world, and in Jesus has confronted the powers of darkness and evil head on.  God has challenged the forces that held us captive, and instead of giving in to them has broken their stranglehold and set us free.  

In that sense, the ransom is not the payment of a fee of some kind, but the breaking open of the prison.  Jesus, through his death, has shattered prison bars and released the captives! 

But there is another aspect to this freedom process.  When captives are released, they are not truly free until and unless they are able to come back into the family, return home and find a whole new life.  God came in Jesus, suffered and died, ‘all for love’s sake’.  He did that not only to redeem us but to restore us to his family where we might know the warmth, shelter and power of his all embracing love.

In Jesus’ own words, “The Son of man came … to give his life to redeem many people” (Mark 10, verse 45).

One much loved hymn is full of praise for what God has done, so that we can now sing - “Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven”.  That can be present reality and future hope.


Lord Jesus, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free.  Break the chains that hold me still, and set me free to live in your company.

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