Reflection Mark 10: 35-45

What does it mean that Jesus came to serve and give his life as a ransom? Kidnapping is thankfully very rare these days for us, but not in all parts of the world. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, or in Syria, or Central America people are captured and held till a ransom is paid. War-lords, gang-chiefs, even corrupt police will take someone to extort money from the family. That captured person is helpless, trapped, imprisoned.

One of the images that the Bible uses to help us understand, (and it is only one of several images), is that of being enslaved to sin. Our own behaviours trap us, like we are now deep in debt, and the behaviours of others can trap us, like we are kidnapped. Either way we cannot free ourselves, get right with God. Jesus in his voluntary death, has paid our debts / written off our debts, and has paid the ransom to free us. Some of us may not feel hugely trapped or indebted, but do we really feel we can just wander into the presence of a holy God?

Jesus will go on to tell a story about tenants who decide they want the vineyard for themselves; who will rebel against the landlord – they thought it was their’s; last week a rich man was so entrapped by his possessions that he could not see the offer of an eternal inheritance.

Ransom is only one way to understand, but it is an important image. And for those of us who don’t know what it feels like, it may be a bit theoretical. Think of the person freed from a gang, freed from a cell, freed from torture, because someone has paid up, and think even more if that other person were to have paid, not just money but with their life to set you free ..

From the wonderful hymn:

Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven – who like me his praise should sing

there’s four words to help us understand. Do we feel some or all of these – can we reflect a bit more on what this really means for us?

Rev’d Peter Reiss