Jesus always knew what was going on. He was not caught up in events beyond his control. Even before he went to Jerusalem, he not only prophesied his death and resurrection, but even described how it would all take place. When we hear the story of his passion in a few weeks, we must keep today’s Gospel in mind. Jesus did what he did on purpose. Nothing could have been done to him if he had not allowed it to happen. There is nothing he suffered that he did not choose to suffer. This does not take away the guilt of those who betrayed him and condemned him and scourged him and mocked him and crucified him; they also chose to do what they were doing. Jesus, however, must be seen throughout all this as one who came “to give his life”, not someone who had it taken from him.
What does it mean for Jesus “to give his life as a ransom for many”? A ransom is the price paid to a captor for the freedom of the captives. Who is our captor? Satan. Sin. Death. We sold ourselves into captivity for a fruit. We were meant to be free. We were supposed to be kings and queens of this earth. Instead, we have spent the majority of human history in captivity. Satan demanded the life of an innocent man for ransom, and Jesus paid it with his own life. Only he could pay it, because he was the only innocent man. His life could not be taken from him, but he could lay it down. What Satan did not know was that, having laid it down, he could take it up again.
The ransom has been paid, so Satan is forced to release us, if we will be free. Jesus unlocked the door of the dungeon that is sin, but we have to choose to walk out. This should not be difficult, the choice to leave sin behind, but we are enamored with the little comforts that we have found in this filthy prison cell. We must somehow work up the courage to leave! How foolish we look, choosing to stay in the dark, dirty prison, rather than go out into the light. We hear voices, whispering, enticing us to stay. We are frightened of what “going out” means. So we stay, in sin, ransomed prisoners who will not leave.