Would you allow me to ask you a question? Is not the principle engrained in your soul that when a wrong is committed the perpetrator should face justice? Crimes deserve punishment. You do not like it when the criminal “gets away with it” do you?
It seems to be a universal law running through humanity that those who break the law should face the law. We agree on this in civilized countries and create a justice system to administer it on our behalf.
In some countries you see this abused. Spurious charges are brought for political reasons to silence opponents using laws clearly designed to destroy dissent. The offense you feel about that merely confirms your own conscience about right, wrong and punishment.
In the past punishments have been ridiculously harsh. Death, deportation for what we now consider minor offenses today.
In the last of our look at the Christmas Mindset can I draw your attention to a statement in Paul’s letter to Philippi (check out the Bible sections link). Paul has described Jesus emptying himself, becoming a servant, humbling himself to the point of being beaten to death and now he adds five shocking words “even death on a cross”.
Why mention death at the celebration of a birth? Let the Son of Man himself explain. “I did not come (emptying) to be served but to serve (servant) and give my life (obedient to death) as a ransom for many (death on a cross).”
The Son of Man describes his death as a ransom. A ransom is a solution to a problem. Someone is held hostage. Someone else pays for freedom. It raises two big questions. Who is the hostage? To whom is the ransom paid?
The Christmas answer is not what it seems. It never is with the Son of Man. Perhaps you think you are the hostage, kidnapped by your own law-breaking soul and held captive in a prison of self-destructive behavior. After all the angel said that his name would be called Jesus because he would save his people from their sins.
But that does not tell you enough. To whom is the ransom paid? Some say the powers of darkness. Faustian stories of doing dealings with the devil echo through our folklore. But that doesn’t make sense. God does not have to pay an inferior power anything at all.
Let me make a shocking statement. God is hostage to his own holiness. God is utter purity, complete holiness unshakably just. Whatever principle of justice courses through your veins it is a billionth smaller and less than the immeasurable justice in the heart of God. He cannot, by nature, let crimes go unpunished, wrong go uncorrected, sins have no consequences.
You would not want a God to be any other way. You don’t want a world where wickedness wins, do you? You don’t even want a bully to get away with it at work or a corrupt company to defraud employees, pensioners or customers. You just don’t.
So a ransom must be paid. God is hostage to his own holiness. Who is qualified to pay the ransom to satisfy the demands of his infinite injustice? Well you can pay for your ransom if you want but that would be the end of you. You can’t pay for anyone else’s. Your credit will go on your own account.
The only one qualified is someone who is not in debt.
Someone who committed no crime, who carries no record of wrongs. God, the Son of Man is the only qualified candidate to pay the ransom. Hence Jesus empties himself and walks the humble servant’s path to the cross and gives his life. God pays himself because God is not only hostage to his own holiness and justice but equally hostage to his own love and mercy.
So he pays his own ransom with his own life which creates a way for you and me to be saved from paying for our own sins. The ransom releases us. The ransom paves the way for our pardon. God meets his own demands and frees himself to free you. Astounding. Shocking. Miraculous. Christmas.
Wishing you the benefits of God’s ransom this and every Christmas.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
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