Jesus’ Resurrection and the Ransom
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep”
(1 Corinthians 15:20).
Listen to audio:
In Matthew 28:6 we have the proclamation by the angel to Mary that “he [Christ] is risen.” This was a message of good news to deliver to the disciples. As a result, Christians everywhere repeat the words “he is risen” during the Easter season. But what does this mean and what are the implications regarding God’s grand plan?
The resurrection of Jesus is a key component in God’s plan. It is critical to opening a new and living way for a special class approaching God through consecration of their lives. But in order to understand the full implications of this event, we must frame it in respect to God’s wisdom, love, power, and justice. The key that unlocks this mystery is Christ’s “Ransom for all.” But what does the ransom have to do with Jesus’ resurrection?
We are all familiar with the ransom process from the example of kidnappings. On the surface the process seems to have three steps. Set the price, get the payment, and exchange the ransomed for the money. However, the ransom process actually has four distinct steps: (1) set the price, (2) get the price, (3) pay the price, and (4) free the ransomed.
The Biblical word for setting the price is the Greek word lutron (λυτσον), Strong’s number 3083. It means “a redemption price (figuratively, atonement): — ransom.” We can think of it as the price of loosening. To fully understand this concept, we turn to the Old Testament which lays out the principle of God’s law of equity. “Thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Exodus 21:23-24). This expression is repeated in Leviticus 24:20 and Deuteronomy 19:21. Jesus refers to this principle in Matthew 5:38, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Jesus related the principle of equivalence with regard to exacting revenge on another. He used this example to teach a key lesson on the “law of love,” which demands more than an equivalent for loving one’s enemy. He contrasted the principle of equivalence, an eye for an eye, with the principle of the law of love, which said, give your enemy more than he demands.
The principle of an equivalent price with regard to a life is also found in the Old Testament. In Exodus 21:30, according to the New American Standard version, “If a ransom is demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is demanded of him.” This principle of payment for a life is expanded upon in Exodus 30:12. “Whenever you take a census of the people of Israel, each man who is numbered shall give a ransom to the Lord for his soul” (The Living Bible). This establishes the principle that there is an equivalent price for a life, “a life for a life.”
The Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:4 says “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” This illustrates that the sacrifices of the Old Testament could not redeem man. Redeem them from what? We have to go back to the Genesis account of the original sin to get the answer. Genesis 2:16-17 says, “The LORD God commanded the man, saying … thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Eve was deceived and Adam willfully sinned, and since that day all of their progeny have been under the sentence of death (1 Timothy 2:12). This death sentence is confirmed by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.” Yet a ray of hope is given as well, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This linkage to Christ is further clarified in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
No One Else
So why could not any other man pay this price? In order to understand this we must examine a few more scriptures. Psalms 49:7 says, “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” How could Christ pay the price for father Adam and how can the ransom price redeem all men from the grave? The principle of sin being passed down through inheritance is laid out in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 18:2 we read, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
The Apostle Paul frames this principle to the Adamic death sentence in Romans 5:12, “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men.” This means that if the one man (Adam) is redeemed from death, then it follows that the Adamic curse will be lifted off all of Adam’s progeny. Paul applies this principle in 1 Timothy 2:5-6 where he states, “The man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all.” The reason that no man could give a ransom to God for his brother is that their imperfect, fallen flesh would not be an equivalent price for the perfect man Adam. Therefore the Logos, a spiritual being begotten of GOD, was made flesh by the Heavenly Father and born of a woman that he could become the man Christ Jesus.
Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of man came … to give his life a ransom.” It required a perfect man (the man Christ Jesus) to be a ransom for a perfect man (Adam). This thought is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15:21; “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” The ransom price was a perfect man for a perfect man. Jesus willingly laid down his life on the cross to pay this price. Going back to the ransom process, we see that the first step, setting the price, demanded a perfect human life for the perfect life of Adam (Romans 5:18-19).
The second step in the process was getting the price, Strong’s number 0487 for the Greek word anti-lutron (αντιλυτσον). According to Strong’s Concordance, this means “a redemption price: — ransom. What is given in exchange for another as the price of his redemption, ransom.” In 1 Timothy 2:5-6 we read, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” In order to raise this price that would satisfy God’s justice, the man Christ Jesus had to perfectly fulfill the law. 1 Peter 1:19 reads, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” This is an indication that like a lamb that is without blemishes, Jesus was pure. This is confirmed in Hebrews 7:26-27 where the Apostle Paul says of Jesus; “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” By this statement, and the example of Jesus’ life documented in scripture, we know that Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law.
What was the promise to one who perfectly fulfilled the Law? It was the promise to live forever on Earth. But did Jesus do this? No, instead he willingly laid down his perfect life at Calvary to redeem the whole human race. To be this ransom and redeem mankind, Jesus had to perfectly fulfill the Law (see Leviticus 18:5).
But how do we know that Jesus’ sacrifice was acceptable? This is the significance of the resurrection morn. God’s seal of acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice was his resurrection from the dead. Had Jesus’ sacrifice been deficient in any way, Jesus would not have been resurrected. Because his sacrifice was perfect and acceptable, God raised him. This is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. It was God’s seal of acceptance. So Jesus paid the corresponding price of loosening (1 Corinthians 15:17).
But what word do we have that denotes step 3, paying the price? We have to investigate to figure this out. Jesus’ sacrifice was not complete until his death. Do we have an indication at Jesus’ death that the ransom price
had been paid? Luke 23:46 (NIV) says, “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ ” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The word “commit” is Strong’s 3908, paratithemi (παρατιθεμι),
which means “to place down with anyone, to deposit in trust, commit to one’s charge.” We can think of this in today’s concept of escrow. The merit of Christ’s sacrifice was put in escrow. Nothing could be taken away from it and nothing could be added to it. It was put on deposit for an exclusive purpose, to pay the ransom for Father Adam and all of his progeny.
The last word in scripture we examine concerning the ransom corresponds to the fourth step of the process. It is the Greek word luo (λυο), Strong’s 3089, which means to loosen. Strong’s Concordance says; “to loose one bound, i.e. to unbind, release from bonds, set free.” So was the ransom paid immediately? No, it was put on deposit for future payment for each individual who ever lived. Jesus describes this payment in John 10:17-18, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take [receive] it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take [receive] it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” So we see that when Jesus willingly put his own merit on deposit, the ransom price was fully paid. In a kidnapping the payment and releasing are commonly simultaneous, because the parties do not trust one another. In this case, however, the parties are trusted; so the paying of the price and loosening occur separately.
When did Jesus start applying the merit to individuals? The application of the merit results in individuals being justified before God when He accepts their consecration. When this happens they receive the holy Spirit, peace with God, the power of prayer, and begettal as a New Creature in Christ Jesus, becoming a son of God (2 Corinthians 5:17, John 3:1,2). This process started when the holy Spirit first came to the footstep followers. Acts 2:1-4 says, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. … All of them were filled with the holy Spirit.” Since Pentecost, Christ has applied the merit to footstep followers when their consecrations are accepted (Hebrews 9:24).
The ransom and the resurrection reveal the fingerprints of God’s character. God’s wisdom knew the end from the beginning, that Adam would sin, and that His justice would require an equivalent price. God’s love provided the Logos, one who willingly was made flesh and then laid down his own life for the world.
The power of God was necessary to resurrect Jesus and will someday raise every person who has ever lived. In Christ’s earthly kingdom, God will put their thoughts in a new body as it pleases Him. So the statement “He is risen” is a key step in God’s grand plan.