“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
The 1996 movie Ransom stars Mel Gibson as a father of a kidnapped son. The ransom request to which Gibson’s character agrees was for $2,000,000. As the movie unfolds, however, the ransom money becomes a bounty offer to anyone who fingers the kidnappers. It’s an interesting thriller. And while today the ransom would likely be more like $10,000,000, the fact remains: We are likely to do whatever it takes to rescue a loved one from abduction. You’ll have to decide for yourself about the idea of offering instead a bounty.
We might ask ourselves what we would give to ransom our child. We might wonder whether we have enough to do it. Jesus asks, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:37). Therein lies the problem. We don’t have enough to redeem ourselves. Our debt is too great. Or even more to the point our abduction so complete and our situation so dire and we cannot reach deep enough into our own pockets. The money is just not there. We don’t have enough of the right currency. We are captive to our own captivity.
When God acted on his plan to redeem and ransom lost and broken creation he came himself. Otherwise we are beyond redemption. We cannot reach to him. He must come to us. But what a cost!
Laying aside his glory.
Humbling himself to be born a baby in Bethlehem
Enduring the mocking and dismissal of the religious leaders of his day
Putting up with those closest to him who just didn’t get it
Submitting to the torture of his captors
Carrying is own instrument of execution to a hill outside the Holy City
Dying naked and abandoned by his disciples…and God himself
Being laid in a borrowed tomb
But O what a glorious ransom!
Paralytics set free to run and dance
Sinful women being set free from a life of abuse and forced depravity
A sick child freed from death’s grip at the last minute
Blind men being freed from a life of darkness
A dead man being freed from his grave and then his grave clothes
A doubting man being free from his unbelief
A struggling student being freed from a dead-end life
A faithful woman being feed from fear
A promiscuous girl being freed from guilt and condemnation
A conscientious boy being freed from demanded obedience
A lost son being freed from guilt and abandonment
A deceived woman being feed from her deception
And so many more… Because God heard the pleas of his people and sent our Ransom. He has redeemed us, not with gold or silver, but with his holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death, and his kind, good, gracious, merciful love. How precious are his gifts! How blessed are we. God is with us.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
O come, O come, Emmanuel And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear
Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel
O come, O come, Thou Lord of might Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the law In cloud, and majesty and awe
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save And give them victory o’er the grave
O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And death’s dark shadows put to flight
O come, Thou Key of David, come And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high And close the path to misery
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high And order all things, far and nigh
To us the path of knowledge show And cause us in her ways to go
O come, desire of nations, bind In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease And be Thyself our King of peace