Jesus - our ransom

Many Christians will participate in a Last Supper memorial service on Maundy Thursday evening (April 1 this year).  At the original Supper midway through Holy Week, Jesus revealed himself clearly to his disciples as the prophesied Suffering Servant. This was not a new revelation, for Jesus had spoken of it earlier:  "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mat. 20:28).

Now, at the Supper, Jesus enacts these words. First he washes the disciple's feet (John 13) - a vivid demonstration that he is the servant of all, and an invitation to his disciples to join him in that service to all humanity.

Then during supper, Jesus takes common table elements (bread and wine) and uses them to represent the giving of his own human life to secure within himself as our representative and substitute, atonement with God.

Concerning the bread, Jesus says, "Take and eat; this is my body..." Concerning the cup, he says, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mat 26:26-28).

By putting these words and dramatic acts together, we understand that Jesus includes his life with his death as what constitutes the "ransom" which he gives to accomplish the atonement of all humanity with God. Concerning this atonement, here's what T.F. Torrance says in Atonement, the Person and Work of Christ:
"Jesus does not regard the work he has to fulfill in his death as divorced from his life. It is his life which he has come to give in redemption, or in ransom for the many, and that concerns his whole course of obedience as the incarnate servant-Son. His life as the servant comes to its completion in his sacrifice on the cross, but the significance of that sacrifice reposes also upon the fact that he has lived out a life of perfect obedience to the Father's will in the midst of our estranged humanity. It is his whole life, and above all that life poured out in the supreme sacrifice of death on the cross, that makes atonement for sin, provides the ground and basis for forgiveness, and means the redemption of those whose lives have been forfeit before God because of sin and guilt and death (p. 22).
"This integration of atonement and incarnation, of the work and person of Christ, is of the most fundamental significance and must not be lost sight of for a moment. The death of Jesus cannot be isolated from his life" (p. 23).
As followers of Jesus, we are called to participate with him in both his death and life. By dying to self (self-interest; self-absorption; self-protection), we are freed to live to, for and with Jesus - sharing in his on-going suffering service, in the Spirit, to all humanity. What does that sharing look like in your context?

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