Minister’s column: Ransom paid | Opinion

Reverend Bruce Kaltwasser Trinity Lutheran Church, Osage

We read in Matthew 20:28: “…the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

How did you ever come up with that word “ransom”? What does this really mean? We are conditioned by movies and television to see it as a price paid to the kidnappers to secure the release of the hostages. But that is not precisely what the word means in the Bible.

In the Bible, the most basic meaning of the word used here (and elsewhere) is “the price of liberation.” It is the price paid to buy the release of a slave, to give him freedom.

During Lent, we remember that we were once slaves to sin. Just as a slave cannot buy his freedom, we cannot free ourselves from our bondage to sin, Satan, and death. This is why Jesus came – to set us free from our sin, by “purchasing” our salvation, by paying the required price. The price, the ransom, was his own life. Throughout the year, but especially during the season of Lent, we remember the price he paid for us to be free, to be set free from our sins.

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In the 4th century, the Christian preacher, John Chrysostom, wrote this:

“…What does ‘ransom’ mean?” God was about to punish (sinners), but He didn’t. They were about to perish, but in their place He gave His own Son and sent us as heralds to proclaim the cross. These things are enough to attract everyone and to demonstrate the love of Christ. So truly, so inexpressibly great are the blessings that God has bestowed on us. He sacrificed himself for his enemies, who hated and rejected him. What no one would do for friends, for brothers, for children, which the Lord has done for his servants; God (made) for men, for men who do not deserve it. Because if they had been deserving, if they had pleased him, it would have been less wonderful. But that he died for beings so ungrateful, so obstinate, is what strikes all minds with astonishment. For what men would not do for their fellow men, God has done for us! [Treasury of Daily Prayer, p. 1157]

As we come to the end of the Lenten season, consider the ransom, the price Jesus paid so that you could be set free from your sins. So come worship it at Easter!

In the words of hymnwriter Roy Palmer: “My faith turns to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine. Now listen to me while I pray; Take away all my guilt; O let me from today be entirely yours! When the ephemeral dream of life ends, when the cold and sullen current of death reaches me, blessed Saviour, then, in love, fear and mistrust will go away; O carry me safe above, a redeemed soul!

In the name of Jesus – Pastor Kaltwasser