A RANSOM IS NOT A SACRIFICE

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A father does not kidnap his own son and then pay the ransom to himself. 

Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd.  Others say he is the lamb.  Whose report do you believe? 

A lamb is a small sheep; so Jesus cannot be both shepherd and sheep simultaneously?  He only claims to be the shepherd.  He does not say he is the lamb as well, otherwise he would be shepherding himself.  Since he is the shepherd, his disciples must be the lambs of God (John 21:15). 

Jesus is the shepherd, but he acts like a lamb in order to show us lambs how to live sin-free lives (Isaiah 53:7).

 

A ransomed life

Is Jesus’ life a ransom or was his death a sacrifice?  If his life is a ransom, its lessons would be relevant even to those born after his death.  But if his death was a sacrifice, it cannot atone for sins committed after his death.  High-priests do not atone for future sins.

Jesus says he gives his life as a ransom (Matthew 20:27-28).  That means he was not a sacrificial lamb.  A ransom is not paid as atonement for sins but for the release of captives.  Ransoms are not given to God but to kidnappers.  Kidnappers are evil, but God is righteous. 

Ransoms are paid by the innocent, but sacrifices are given by the guilty.  Jesus, the Good Samaritan, can understandably pay ransoms for the release of prisoners.  But since he is sinless, he cannot be a sacrifice for sins. 

 

Not a Passover lamb

Paul says: “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).  However, the Passover lamb is not a sacrifice for sins.  It is a festive offering, commemorating the exodus from Egypt.  Since Jesus died during the Passover and not on the Day of Atonement, his death was clearly not atonement for sins. 

Sin-offerings with blood are burnt; it is forbidden to eat them (Leviticus 6:30).  However, the Passover lamb is eaten.  Jesus is male; but the sin-offering lamb must be female (Leviticus 4:32; Leviticus 5:6).  Sacrificial lambs lose their lives.  But Jesus’ death resulted in his resurrection.  Under the sacrificial system, it is the sheep that dies for the man.  But Jesus contradicts this deliberately by saying he is the man who “gives his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). 

According to Jesus, the man who gives his life as a ransom does not have to die: he becomes a servant of men (Matthew 20:25-28).  Jesus says his ransom is “for many” (Matthew 20:28); because not all are held in captivity.  But Paul says it was a ransom “for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6), in the mistaken belief that there is none righteous. 

However, men are held captive even when they are righteous; and it is the knowledge of the truth, and not the blood of a lamb, that makes them free (John 8:31-32).

 

The snare of the fowler

Some terrorists kidnapped a rich man’s son.  He was not released until his father paid a hefty ransom.  When the incident was reported in the press, they said it was his father who kidnapped him.  That is ludicrous.  It only shows the press is controlled by the kidnappers. 

A father does not kidnap his own son, demand a ransom for his release, and then pay the ransom himself to himself.  But an evil person might hijack another man’s son and demand a ransom from his father.  God is our Father; he does not hold his own children in captivity.  Indeed, he is our deliverer.

Jesus reveals that Satan holds men captive because of our love of life.  We sin habitually as we try to save our lives.  We say we love God but fear death; the very thing which takes us back to God. 

Jesus set captives free by allowing himself to be killed, only to rise promptly from the dead.  Thereby, he exposed the counterfeit of physical death.  This shows Jesus did not die for our sins.  He died because of them. 

Jesus said: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28).  Were it not for our need to repent for sins arising from our love of life, Jesus would not have had to demonstrate that our fear of death is baseless by going to the cross.

So doing, Jesus suffered bloodshed.  But his death was a demonstration and not a sin-sacrifice.  The Good Shepherd lays down his life and takes it up again.  Therefore, we can now confidently lay down our lives, without fear of losing our lives.

Thanks to Jesus’ ransom, we are no longer held captive by the fear of death: “Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped” (Psalm 124:7).