Summary: In this sermon we see that the reason Christ suffered and died was to become a ransom for many.
The Gospels contain a large body of material of the teaching of Jesus. Jesus taught about all kinds of things such as God, the kingdom, sin, righteousness, and judgment. Scholars and students have spent vast numbers of hours seeking to understand the person and work of Jesus. One of the clearest statements about his work came from the lips of Jesus himself. I would like to draw your attention to Mark 10:45.
Let me read Mark 10:45:
45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
In 2004 the movie called The Passion of the Christ was released. It is a gruesome depiction of the hours leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. Those who saw the movie probably still have vivid images in their minds of the suffering endured by Jesus.
At the same time as the release of The Passion of the Christ, pastor and author John Piper released a book titled The Passion of Jesus Christ. At the conclusion of his introduction Piper says:
When all is said and done, the most crucial question is: Why? Why did Christ suffer and die? Not why in the sense of cause, but why in the sense of purpose. What did Christ achieve by his passion? Why did he have to suffer so much? What great thing was happening on Calvary for the world?
Piper then says that he has gathered from the New Testament fifty reasons why Christ suffered and died. Indeed, the sub-title of his book is: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die.
Tonight, let’s look at one of the reasons why Christ suffered and died. Christ suffered and died to become a ransom for many.
I. What is a “Ransom”?
First, what is a “ransom”?
The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary defines “ransom” as “a price paid to release a captive or seized property, or the act of procuring release in this manner.”
Do you remember the incident a year ago with the Maersk Alabama? Four Somali pirates seized the cargo ship Maersk Alabama about 280 southeast of the Somalia port city of Eyl. Sometime after boarding the pirates managed to seize the captain. At about the same time the crew of the ship then managed to seize the ringleader of the pirates, creating a sense of unease for the three remaining Somali pirates. The crew attempted to ransom the pirate they had captured for the captain, but the exchange went awry and after the crew released their captive, the pirates refused to honor the agreement. They fled in one of the ship’s covered lifeboats with nine days of food rations and took the ship’s captain with them. Eventually, of course, you remember that the US Navy killed the pirates and rescued the captain.
So, a ransom is the price paid to release a captive or seized property.
II. Why is a Ransom Necessary?
Second, why is a ransom necessary?
God created Adam without sin. He put him in the Garden of Eden with only commandment: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
Unfortunately, Adam did eat of the fruit. And he became spiritually cut off from God because of his sin. And all of Adam’s sin passed on to his children.
God was angry because Adam rebelled against him. He did not obey God. So God had to punish Adam. And the penalty for sin was death—both physical death but also spiritual death.
So, a ransom is necessary to pay for sin.
III. Who Receives the Ransom?
Third, who receives the ransom?
Some say that Satan is the one who receives the ransom. According to this view, the ransom Christ paid to redeem us was paid to Satan, in whose kingdom all people are by virtue of their sin.
But there is no thought in the Bible that Satan had to be paid off to let sinners be saved. What happened to Satan when Christ died was not payment, but defeat. The Son of God became human so “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:12). There was no negotiation with Satan.
When Jesus says that he came “to give his life as a ransom,” the focus is not on who gets the payment. The focus is on his own life as the payment, and on his freedom in serving rather than being served, and on the “many” who will benefit from the payment he makes.
So, who receives the ransom? The answer that the Bible gives is that it is God the Father. Notice what the Bible says in the following passages: