“When these things
Begin to take place,
Raise your heads!
Is drawing near.”
ἀρχομένων δὲ τούτων γίνεσθαι ἀνακύψατε καὶ ἐπάρατε τὰς κεφαλὰς ὑμῶν, διότι ἐγγίζει ἡ ἀπολύτρωσις ὑμῶν.
Among all the common elements, Luke has this unique comment of Jesus, that is not in Mark or Matthew. Jesus said that when these things begin to take place (ἀρχομένων δὲ τούτων γίνεσθαι), they were to look up (ἀνακύψατε) and raise their heads (καὶ ἐπάρατε τὰς κεφαλὰς ὑμῶν), because their redemption was drawing near (διότι ἐγγίζει ἡ ἀπολύτρωσις ὑμῶν). Only Luke concluded that their redemption or ransom was coming soon. Do you expect to be saved or redeemed?
“The Son of man
Not to be served,
But to serve.
To give his life
As a ransom for many.”
καὶ γὰρ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν
There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 20:28, almost word for word. Mark indicated that Jesus said that the Son of Man came not to be served (καὶ γὰρ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι), but to serve others (ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι). He was going to give his life (καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ) as a ransom for many people (λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν). This ransom or freeing of slaves was a divine liberation from the slavery of sin. Quite often in the Old Testament, Yahweh said that he was going to save his people, the Israelites. Jesus was going to pay the penalty of death. Thus, he ransomed a great number of people from their sins or their debts. Thus, this is an indication of redemptive salvation.
African Christians put emphasis on creation and deliverance from hardship, while European Christians put emphasis on sin and salvation. These differences show up in death rituals and funerals. The early Church suffered political persecution. Freedom from slavery saw redemption as the main form of freedom. The early Medieval Church (4th-11th centuries) was more concerned about freedom from the power of the devil after Augustine had emphasized the concept of original sin. The early Scholastic theologians like Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) put less emphasis on the ransom from the devil. Adam had disobeyed and dishonored God. Christ has saved us by being the second Adam, the so-called satisfaction theory. Order and honor were more important. The Third world today sees redemption as something else. Christian redemption is the same reality, but there are different interpretations of what it means to be redeemed.
“Thus says Yahweh.
‘You were sold for nothing.
You shall be redeemed without money.’
Thus says Yahweh God.
My people went down into Egypt
To reside there as aliens.
The Assyrian also
Has oppressed them without cause.
Now therefore what am I doing here?’
‘Why are my people taken away
Their rulers howl.’
All day long,
My name is despised.
Therefore my people shall know
Therefore in that day,
They shall know
That it is I who speak.
Here am I.’”
Second Isaiah has a series of oracles from Yahweh about the captivity. First, there was no money exchange in the capture of the Israelites. Thus there will be no ransom paid either. The Israelites were oppressed as aliens in Egypt a long time ago. Now they are oppressed by the Assyrians without any good cause. Continually all day long, the name of Yahweh is despised. They ought to know the name of Yahweh. They ought to know who is speaking to them. Clearly it is Yahweh. He is there, as he says “Here am I.”
“I give Egypt as your ransom.
I give Ethiopia in exchange for you.
I give Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my sight,
I honored you.
I love you.
I give people in return for you.
I give nations in exchange for your life.
Do not fear!
I am with you!
I will bring your offspring from the east.
I will gather you from the west.
I will say to the north.
‘Give them up!’
I will say to the south.
‘Do not withhold!’
Bring my sons from far away!
Bring my daughters from the end of the earth!
Bring everyone who is called by my name,
Whom I created for my glory,
Whom I formed,
Whom I made.”
Yahweh God, using the first person singular in Second Isaiah, wants to ransom the Israelites, whether they were in Egypt, Ethiopia, or Arabia Seba. The Israelites were precious in his sight. He loved and honored them. He would give other people up to save their lives. The Israelite offspring shall be from the east, the west, the north, and the south. He would gather his sons and daughters from the ends of the earth. He would have everyone who called on his name and gave him glory ransomed, since he had formed and made them.
“Whoever wanders from the way of understanding
Will rest in the assembly of the dead.
Whoever loves pleasure
Will be poor.
Whoever loves wine and oil
Will not be rich.
The wicked are a ransom for the righteous.
The faithless are a ransom for the upright.”
If you wander from the way of understanding, you are headed for rest in the assembly of the dead. If you love pleasure, you will be a poor man. If you love wine and oil, you certainly will not be rich. The wicked ones are a ransom for the righteous, while the faithless ones are a ransom for the upright. Actions have consequences.
They are appointed for Sheol.
Death shall be their shepherd.
Straight to the grave they descend.
Their form shall waste away.
Sheol shall be their home.
But God will ransom my soul
From the power of Sheol,
He will receive me.”
Once again we have the theme of the shepherd. This time death, not Yahweh, is the shepherd. Death leads all of us sheep directly to the grave, where we waste away. Our homes will be Sheol, the ill-defined underground afterlife. However, we do have an exception. The psalmist believes that God will rescue him from the eternal power of Sheol. God will ransom his soul with his belief in an eternal afterlife with God. With that, it is time for another musical interlude pause of Selah.