Matthew and Mark record Jesus’ wonderful statement, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45).
Ransom is paid when one is held in captivity or bondage. In modern times ransom is almost exclusively given to illegitimate takers like kidnappers. In ancient times, ransoms were commonly used to retrieve important people or family members who were taken in war or other misfortunes.
The 49th Psalm discusses who would ransom and redeem those who were taken hold of by death. Redemption then will be God’s alone.
Ps. 49:7 No man can by any means redeem his brother,
Or give to God a ransom for him—
8 For the redemption of his soul is costly,
And he should cease trying forever—
14 As sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
Death shall be their shepherd…
their form shall be for Sheol to consume…
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol;
For He will receive me. Selah.
Living in a time of physical security, and in the gospel time of abundant grace and hope, we can forget how tenuous a grasp we have on freedom and life. But death is the ultimate reminder of our need of all that was accomplished in Jesus, “Who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6).