DAILY DEVOTION - MAY 9
Listen to excerpts from today's daily devotion on this video.
This Daily Devotion is from A Living Hope, by Sarah Viggiano Wright, published by Bible Study Media, and made available to us through Presbyterian Women.
“...knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
1 Peter 1:18–19
We treasure a lot of odd things our families pass down to us. Quirks, heirlooms, claims to fame, a love of nature, “classic” family jokes, or special recipes can be unique parts of a family’s fabric.
However, sometimes we inherit traits, habits, or predispositions that are not just odd or quirky, but truly less than desirable. Some of us might make unwise choices with money because we came from a household that spent beyond its means. Others may have a hot temper we blame on our ethnicity. Or we may have hereditary mental or physical illnesses, like depression or heart disease. Not everything inherited is good.
In 1 Peter 1:4–5, we learned about the marvelous things we inherit in Jesus: his righteousness, his salvation, his Father. These all become ours! Conversely, Peter discloses in verses 18–19 what we’ve inherited from our spiritual ancestors—an “empty” or “futile” lifestyle passed down from our forefathers. These futile ways are in direct contrast to the holy manner of life that God the Father gives his children.
The word ransomed in today’s passage is noteworthy. Today, “ransom” is not commonly used unless you’re Jack Bauer from the TV drama 24. However, when Peter was authoring this letter, ransom was a prevalent trade term for the payment or purchase price required to liberate someone from slavery or captivity. Unable to free themselves, the person in captivity was not their own and could only be freed if an exchange was made.
Here, “ransomed” is a well-placed word as we were formerly enslaved to sin and had no ability to free ourselves. Jesus exchanged his life for ours as a ransom payment and, in doing so, freed us from bondage.
So where did our former bondage originate? We inherited it from our spiritual father and representative, Adam. Adam, the first created man, was the prototype of humanity and the representative of the human race, which descended from him. God established a covenant with Adam (see Hosea 6:7) and commanded him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15–17). If there was ever a human being created who was least likely to sin, it was the not-yet-corrupted Adam (and Eve).
But they did sin. And when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and broke the covenant God made with them, all of Creation fell and was corrupted, including humans and our nature. This sin was the start of all sins and sinfulness, the sinful estate humans are born into.
While sin is often thought of as misdeeds or malice toward others, it also includes any willful transgression or ignorant omission of the perfect law of God. Furthermore, and most profoundly, it includes the way we are all naturally disposed to be. Human nature was corrupted in the Fall, so every human is actually born into sin, born a sinner, born sinful. Romans 5:12 (NIV) affirms, “...sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Notice that the tense of “all sinned” is past tense. It’s a fully completed action. You and I have sinned because Adam represented us and we, through him, sinned.
This is a hard pill to swallow for many reasons, one of which is that there is so much good in the world. How can it be so fallen? But, as mentioned in Day 2 of this week, our goodness and God’s holiness are nowhere close to equal! There can be good things in the fallen world, but they pale in comparison to the good things that are a part of God’s kingdom.
Also, many think it unfair to be represented by Adam and therefore held responsible for his sin. The truth is, we’re not accountable for his sin, but we are affected by his sin. When Adam sinned, all of nature, and the totality of human nature with it, fell with Adam. It became the case that all people by nature not only could sin, but would sin.
In light of all this bad news, there is—thankfully—good news! Those of us in Christ have been given the “gift” of salvation because of our new representative: “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Romans 5:15, NIV).
The truth is, many of us who have a problem with being represented by Adam, quite inconsistently do not object to having Jesus represent us. Isn’t it just like us to only want the shiny side of the coin? First Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” “[In] Adam” and “in Christ” are terms of representation, and you are either in one or in the other.
If we are in Christ and now freed from sin and death, verse 18 reminds us that it is only because he ransomed us. The ransom for someone in captivity was costly. The average Roman worker could earn about 3 sestertii a day, but it could take up to 700,000 sestertii to purchase someone who was enslaved. To spend that much, and then give that person their freedom, was a steep sacrifice.
Peter points out that Jesus didn’t purchase us with perishable silver or gold, but with a currency far more costly. He paid for us with his precious, priceless blood. Jesus’ life in exchange for ours, the way that a perfect, spotless lamb was sacrificed for atonement in the Old Testament. Jesus came down from heaven, took on human form, lived a perfect life, and then emptied himself on the cross, pouring his blood out to atone for all his beloved “little lambs.”
In light of all of the goodness they inherit in Christ, Peter encourages his audience to live a holy life as a way of saying “thank you” to Jesus, as he delights in our obedience. Yet, our giving our lives to Jesus in obedience is in no way comparable to his giving his life for us. How immeasurably good and gracious is our Ransom and Representative!