We think of “ransom” as being money given in exchange for someone who has been kidnapped. Not so in Jesus’ time.
18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,
and the unfaithful for the upright (OT thinking).
The wicked are ransomed and become the righteous,
and the unfaithful become the upright (NT thinking).
I learned something yesterday. I learned that to ransom something in biblical days meant that a person assumed the debt of another person. In Jesus’ case, He then forgave it. Let’s read Matthew 20:25-28,
25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The forgiveness part comes in Matthew 26:28,
28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus ransomed us and then forgave us. It sounds like He did it only for specific people, but Paul clarified who was ransomed in 1 Timothy 2:5-6,
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
He also used the term, “redemption,” which has a similar meaning. It means, “to buy back.” Paul says in Titus 2:14,
Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
In a sense, we were “recalled” from wickedness. Now, we are being purified as Jesus’ people. Pretty cool, huh?
Jubilee was a happy time for Israel. It happened every 50 years. During this time, all lands went back to the original families. It was like everyone returning to “GO” in monopoly and turning in all your houses and hotels. When Jesus declared that Jubilee had come (He did this when He read Isaiah 61:1-3a and then applied it to Himself in Luke 4:18-21), He was declaring that He was about to redeem mankind from wickedness. He would pay the ransom and assume our debt–and then forgive it. WOW! Consider this:
Christ ‘gave his life as a ransom.’ But to whom?
Not to God, for God is not the slave-holder.
Not to Satan, for God owes Satan nothing.
Not to the Law, for mercy trumps Law (James 2:13).
Jesus ransoms us from death, paying with his life.
But Christ owed death nothing either, and so conquers it.*
Abba, the more I read about what You have done for us, the more I fall in love with You. You wanted us back! Not only that, You pursue those who are Yours (which is everyone) with an everlasting love and a never-ending mercy. Truly, Your Church will fill the whole earth eventually. This is, indeed, good news! Amen.
*Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, page 245