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What imagery comes to mind when you think about Jesus rescuing sinners? The Bible actually offers several helpful illustrations of how salvation has been given to us through God’s Son, Jesus.


But one of the best may be that of “ransom.”


The Greek word translated as “ransom” appears in the New Testament four times, two times spoken by Jesus, Himself (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45, 1 Timothy 2:6, and Hebrews 9:15). When the New Testament writers used this word, surely they had in mind the slavery system of their day. Men and women living in conquered lands, criminal outcasts, the financially indebted, and foreigners all ran the risk of becoming slaves. When slaves were sold, they would be stripped naked, regardless of gender, and any skills they possessed – such as bilingual capabilities, agricultural experience, etc – were written on an inscription beneath them to increase their price.


Once a slave was purchased, he/she belonged to the owner and was subject to his bidding. The owner could then treat the slave as cruelly as he saw fit; slaves could be used for manual labor, sexual acts, and even ruthless entertainment, such as dying in gladiatorial fights around the Roman Empire. 


But occasionally, slaves were “ransomed.” That happened when a compassionate person with the monetary means would come along, see the slave’s plight, and change their life forever. The rescuer would pay a price for the slave…and let them go their way instead of dragging them off to misery. The slave received freedom…while the other person paid the full price.


Sound familiar?


Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15)


No wonder Strong’s Concordance defines ransom as “the purchase price to grant liberation from oppression; it is the means to redemption.” That’s what Jesus has done for us.


So just because salvation didn’t cost you and me anything doesn’t mean it was free.



Topics Illustrated Include:
God’s Love


(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)