Matthew 20:28 (KJV) “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
I enjoy a short story written by O. Henry titled, “The Ransom of Red Chief.” It’s a story about two small-time criminals named Bill and Sam who kidnap 10-year old Johnny from the home of a prominent citizen name Ebenezer Dorset. Bill and Sam had no idea of the problems they were going to encounter while trying to affect the “ransom” of the most mischievous, undisciplined child they ever experienced!
Johnny demanded to be called “Red Chief,” and he drove Bill and Sam to distraction with his incessant talking, practical jokes, and devious antics! It did not take long before Bill talked Sam into lowering the opening ransom demand from $2,000 to $1,500. Johnny’s father, knowing the unknown criminals would be only too happy to get rid of his rascal son, refused to pay anything for his son’s return. He made a counter offer. He would take his son back only if they paid him to do so! I’m chuckling as I write this because I’ve read the whole story, and I’ve seen a couple of movies based on its premise.
What is most interesting about this story is “Red Chief” is not upset because his father would not pay any ransom for him because he did not want to return to the discipline his father would demand of him. He was enjoying his new “freedom” wherein he could have his way and make others play according to his rules. He enjoyed the exhilaration of intimidation.
In 1996, Ron Howard directed a movie titled “Ransom.” Mel Gibson played a wealthy businessman (Tom Mullen) and Gary Sinise played a corrupt police detective. After Mullen’s son is kidnapped, he receives notice that his son will be released if he paid “$1,000,000 to ransom him. For a brief period, Mullen works with the police to facilitate his son’s release.
After facing a conflict of conscience and conviction, Mullen decides to go on a major TV station and offers $1,000,000 for the capture of his son’s kidnappers. This causes no small rift between him and his wife, and most of his friends and police think Mullen is being unreasonable and placing his son into further jeopardy. It’s an interesting twist on the subject of “Ransom.”
There are a few major “twists” on the subject of “Ransom” in Scripture. One is recorded as follows…
Genesis 37:27-28 (KJV) “Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt” (Emphasis Added).
While there are many “twists” to the plots involving “Ransom,” one theme is always present – Jealousy! Very seldom is “Jealousy” NOT accompanied with “Greed.” Jealousy was the prevailing spirit behind the “Ransom” of Joseph by his brothers.
While you may be questioning my use of the word “Ransom” in conjunction with Joseph’s experience, please consider the alternative to what his jealous brothers had planned. They had a mind to leave him in the pit until he died, or until some wild animals heard his cries for help and jumped into the pit and devoured him. However, God intervened in his need and moved the hearts of his brothers to sell him into slavery. Therefore, twenty pieces of silver became the “Ransom” for his life. This was a FAIR price for a common slave!
You know the rest of the Joseph’s story. God intervened and enabled Joseph to thrive in the position of being a slave. Whether God intended for Joseph to be a slave when He orchestrated Joseph’s conception or not, we do not know. What we DO know is that God “Ransomed” Joseph’s trial and used it for His Eternal Purpose. Read the following…
Genesis 45:4-8 (KJV) “And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” (Emphasis Added).
God redeems (Ransoms) all that He allows or orchestrates!
Consider another “twist” on the subject of “Ransom” in Scripture…
Matthew 26:14-15 (KJV) “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver” (Emphasis Added).
Like Joseph in the Old Testament, the Man, Christ Jesus was sold for the price of a common slave – 30 pieces of silver! Unlike Joseph, His “Ransom” was not paid to facilitate His living – it was to deliver Him to His death! Well, that is what the Jewish leaders and Satan thought. Judas was shocked when he realized what he had done – sold Jesus into the hands of His slayers! ALL the spirits in the spiritual realm could see was the deceit done to, and the destruction of Jesus! I believe the fallen angels (devils) were celebrating, and the holy angels were sorrowing.
BUT, like Joseph, God intervened to place Jesus in the precise place, at the precise period, in the precise position, and for the precise purpose of being the “Ransom” for lost humanity! Once again, it could be said by Jesus, as was said by Joseph, “God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
Unlike Ebenezer Dorset, in the “Ransom of Red Chief,” our Father was not willing to allow His rebellious, recalcitrant, and riotous children to continue to be held for “Ransom!” He did not attempt to negotiate for better terms. He did not take the chance that the Enemy would tire of holding His children captive and return us to Him because of our rancid nature.
John 3:16 (KJV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Our Father sent His Only Begotten Son to pay the Highest, Holiest Price for our “Ransom.”
1 Peter 1:18-19 (KJV) “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” (Emphasis Added).
Our Father rejoices when His children “return” Home – “Ransomed” by the Blood of Jesus! All who have been “Ransomed” can sing…
“Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
His child and forever I am.”
— Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It! | Frances J. Crosby