Hostages and ransom payments

silhouette of a pirate ship sailing on sea during golden hour
Photo by Drais Pereyra on

None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him, for the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease for ever.

Thus says the LORD, … Return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Psalm 49, 7.8; Isaiah 44 6, 22.

Navigating ships in the Mediterranean in medieval times was a risky enterprise. It was no rare thing for pirates to board French or Spanish boats, seize some passengers and take them to the African coast, and then demand a high ransom to free them.

One day Spain decided to buy back all her prisoners and raised the sum needed to pay the ransom. A ship heavily armed and loaded with this fortune set off to find the captives. But, lo and behold, several had become accustomed to their condition, some had married, others had started up a business. The unthinkable happened: many refused to be liberated, preferring to live in the country where they were not free citizens. The ship had to return to Spain bringing only a small portion of the prisoners to freedom and still carrying an unused amount of money in its hold. 

This account helps us to understand our situation before God. Even if we are not aware of it, we are like prisoners in the hands of Satan, the true prince of this world who has decided to live apart from God.

Jesus Christ had to pay the price necessary to redeem us, by giving His life on the cross. That ransom suffices to redeem everyone, but everybody must recognize personally that he is a slave, far from God, and believe in Jesus, the Saviour.

Can we refuse such deliverance?