Monday, March 7, 2022

Christ Our Ransom (Matthew 20:17-28)

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

Before Jesus approached Jerusalem in preparation for His crucifixion, He explained to His followers why He had come. The disciples had been arguing about who would hold the place of honor in Christ’s kingdom, and Jesus took the opportunity to inform them that those who want to be great among men, must be a servant first. In the same way, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

What did Christ mean by a “ransom”? His Jewish disciples would have been familiar with the term, which means redemption. A redeemer provides a ransom to set someone, such as a slave, free from bondage. God acted as Israel’s redeemer when He set them free from their captivity in Egypt. Jesus served as our redeemer when He paid the price for our freedom, releasing us from the captivity of sin.

A number of theories regarding the atoning work of Christ have developed through church history. The atonement is a multifaceted event, and one of the characteristics prevalent in explaining this event is that of the ransom. One position on the atonement is even called the Ransom Theory. This view erroneously maintains that Jesus paid a ransom to Satan in order to set His people free. But though we are in bondage to sin and under Satan’s captivity, the ransom is not paid to him. If Christ paid a price to Satan, the victor would be Satan not God. The ransom is paid to the one who is owed the price of redemption—God.

Reconciliation must be made between man and God, not man and Satan. Christ’s sacrifice involves both expiation and propitiation. Expiation is the removing of guilt by payment of a ransom. We are cleansed of our sins because Christ’s sacrifice met the demands of God’s law. The result of this expiation is that God is propitiated. God is pouring out His wrath on mankind (Rom. 1), but in the work of Christ that wrath is placated and satisfied. In propitiation, God is appeased and His people are restored into His favor. Those, however, who are not covered in Christ’s death will face the impending judgment as God pours out His wrath on the unredeemed.

Although our ransom has been paid, we continue in this life in the struggle with sin. During this week prayerfully reflect upon your life and consider where the power of a guilty conscience may still be operative. Through confession of sin receive anew Christ’s forgiveness and restore full fellowship with God.