I DON’T FULLY UNDERSTAND what that means. Jesus gave himself as a ransom. Jesus pays the ransom price — his own life — and humanity is freed. Jesus is willing, through his death on the cross, to make the payment demanded by Satan — the life of the perfect, obedient Son of God. In this way, humanity is freed.
Throughout Christian history, people have tried to explain the idea of ransom. The kidnapping of humanity by the devil is a problem God must solve with cunning and deceit.
Satan is not willing to give up humanity and so God offers Jesus to Satan as the bait on a fishhook. Satan sees Jesus and, because his divinity is concealed, Satan assumes Jesus is just another tasty human morsel. Like a fish, Satan goes for the bait. But the hook is Jesus’s divinity; this is what sticks in Satan’s gullet.
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GREGORY OF NYSSA, a fourth-century theologian from Asia Minor, explains:
“God … veiled himself in our nature. In that way, as it is with greedy fish, Satan might swallow the Godhead like a fishhook along with the flesh, which is the bait.”
Because Satan himself becomes trapped on the hook, he must release humanity. Jesus’ life is the ransom price paid for humanity’s freedom from Satan.
There’s a lot of questions about this understanding of atonement. You don’t have to know all about ransom theology or stories of Jesus as bait on a fishhook. The bottom line is this. God desires that everyone be saved. To be redeemed. Jesus is the way through which salvation is offered. For everyone.
But not everyone knows salvation is for them. Not everyone who knows...believes. Those who believe are called to make that good news known to folks who don’t know. Or folks who misunderstand. Or folks who have been lied to about Jesus. Those who know, those who believe, you and I, we are to tell others, so they might know, so they might believe, so they might have the fullness of life offered by Jesus.
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THE CHURCH HAS GIVEN this call a name — evangelism. It comes from the Greek word evangelion, which means “good news.” Evangelism is simply sharing the good news.
Sharing good news comes naturally. We don’t have to be trained to share the good news of a new job. We don’t have to be trained to share the good news of a baby being born. We don’t have to be trained to share the good news of a puppy being rescued. We simply share what is beautiful and dear to us.
Sharing the good news of Jesus is more than acts of kindness or good moral ethics. You don’t have to go through a class or get a diploma before sharing the good news. You don’t have to get permission from session. You don’t need my approval. You share with people what Jesus means to you.
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HOW DO YOU SHARE something beautiful and dear when you have no comparisons? I can marvel at the beauty of a hibiscus or crepe myrtle in my yard because I see the beauty its blooms compared to its winter death.
We marvel at the incredible landscapes of the Southwest or New England’s fall foliage because we’re visiting and never seen anything like it. People visit our area and are taken at the white sands and lush woodlands. But for us it’s like “Yes, it’s pretty but we see it all the time.”
How do you see the beauty of God’s grace through Jesus when it becomes ordinary? How do you get excited about God’s love when you’ve witnessed it over and again? As Christians we have good news to share in our lives; it is a part of our identity. Sharing the good news might come up in a conversation where you talk about how prayer sustained you in a difficult time. How God’s forgiveness to you allowed you to forgive another. Of why you are protesting for justice because God calls us to seek justice.
It might come up in a conversation about lifestyle. Simply your story of how the good news of Jesus makes a difference in the way you live your life. Not beat over the head. Bible thumping. Judgmental. But your story. This is how I deal with stress. This is how I coped with loss. This is why I volunteer. This is how Jesus affects my life. This is why I pray.
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