Posted by: rcottrill | January 24, 2018

He Ransomed Me

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Words: Julia Harriet Johnston (b. Jan. 21, 1849; d. Mar. 6, 1919)
Music: J. W. Henderson (no data available)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Julia Johnston was a pastor’s daughter, and superintendent of a department of the Sunday School of her church for four decades. She was also the author of over five hundred hymns, including Grace Greater Than Our Sin. The present hymn is sometimes known by its first line, There’s a Sweet and Blessed Story.

Kidnapping is a serious crime, and one that may bring grief and suffering to many more than just the abducted individual. Often, after a person is taken, a ransom is demanded for his or her release. This is a form of extortion, attempting to obtain something by a threat of harm.

Francisco Pizarro was a Spanish conquistador who, with a relatively small force, conquered the Inca empire. He took their leader Atahualpa captive, and called for a huge ransom amounting to a room full of gold. It was sent to him, and is considered the largest ransom ever paid, likely over two billion dollars in today’s currency. He’s condemned today for not honouring the deal, but killing Atahualpa anyway!

One of the most infamous crimes of the twentieth century was the 1932 kidnapping of the baby son of famed aviator Charles Lindberg. Even after Lindberg and his wife Anne paid the required ransom, the infant was not returned. Two months later, his body was found near the Lindberg home. The kidnapper was finally caught and executed.

In 1973, John Paul Getty III was kidnapped by a gang with Mafia connections. The teen-ager was the grandson of wealthy industrialist and oil tycoon John Paul Getty (1892-1976). A ransom of seventeen million dollars was demanded, but the young man was returned after a payment of just over two million. However, the victim had been cruelly abused, and he suffered all his life from the terrifying experience.

Not all such crimes have as bad an ending as these, but many do. They are acts of greed and violence that usually have no one’s benefit in mind but the perpetrator’s, who hopes to obtain a large sum of ransom money, without being caught.

How dramatically different is the Bible’s use of the word ransom, (The Lord says of Israel, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave,” Hos. 13:14). And in the New Testament, “ransom” translates the Greek word lutron, describing a loosing from what binds. Our loving Saviour said of Himself:

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45).

This statement, also recorded by Matthew, came after a self-centred request from James and John, who wanted places of privilege in Christ’s coming kingdom (vs. 37). But the Lord explained that true greatness involves servanthood (vs. 43-44), and He presented Himself as the Example of this.

As to the ransom spoken of, some of the ancients proposed the theory that it was paid to Satan. That he had, in effect, had kidnapped the human race, and the Father gave His Son to pay the ransom. But this is unbiblical foolishness. The devil will reap no payment for his malice but eternal judgment in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

Rather, God, in Christ, paid the ransom to Himself. “The [just] wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), but Christ’s holy life, and His death on the cross, was offered to God the Father, to fully satisfy the just demands of His righteous law (II Cor. 5:21). Christ became our Substitute. Though perfectly holy, and undeserving of any punishment, Jesus took our place under the wrath of God, paying our debt so that we might go free.

The payment was sufficient for all (I Tim. 2:6; I Jn. 2:2), but it is only received through personal faith in Christ and His sufficient sacrifice (Jn. 3:16).

Julia Johnston published a song about the ransom paid by Christ in 1916. It says:

CH-1) There’s a sweet and blessèd story
Of the Christ who came from glory
Just to rescue me from sin and misery.
He in lovingkindness sought me,
And from and sin shame has brought me.
Hallelujah! Jesus ransomed me.

Hallelujah, what a Saviour,
Who can take a poor lost sinner,
Lift him from the miry clay and set him free!
I will ever tell the story,
Shouting, ‘Glory, glory, glory!’
Hallelujah! Jesus ransomed me.

CH-3) By and by with joy increasing,
And with gratitude unceasing,
Lifted up with Christ forevermore to be,
I will join the hosts there singing,
In the anthem ever ringing,
To the King of Love, who ransomed me.

1) What are some of the differences between kidnapper’s ransoms and the ransom paid by Christ?

2) What have we done to deserve this loving sacrifice?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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