In Pastor Jeff's Blog

For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all —this was attested at the right time. – 1 Timothy 2:5-6

This past August I had the privilege of visiting a few of the ancient monasteries in Meteora, Greece, including the spectacular Monastery of St. Nikolaos Anapavsas. As with all Orthodox chapels the walls and ceilings were covered with spectacular paintings depicting biblical stories.

One painting in particular caught my attention. It’s a painting of Jesus and the saints buying the souls of the departed from the devil. While modern theology often understands Jesus’ death as saving us from the righteous wrath of God, the most dominant theory of atonement in the ancient Church was known as the Ransom Theory. Based on passages such as 1 Timothy 2:5-6, this ancient idea conceives humanity as being enslaved to the devil. Jesus’ life became the ransom to purchase our freedom. The beauty of this theological perspective is that it does not focus on an angry God but on a Savior willing to die to set us free from our bondage to sin and the devil.

For two thousand years the Church has struggled to understand and articulate exactly how Jesus’ life, death and resurrection save us. But the constant throughout the Church’s history is the belief that Jesus died for us and for our salvation. His sacrificial love changes everything.

Perhaps understanding exactly how Jesus saves us is less important than daring to believe that in his great love, he does!

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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