A Ransom Shared
Originally scheduled for January 10
Exodus 30:15 NASB "The
rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the
half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make
atonement for yourselves.
It is a statement cherished by all free men,
but most particularly by Americans: “we hold these truths to be self
evident, that all men are created equal…” It is no great secret that
the Founding Fathers were Christians and were greatly familiar with
the ideas of the Scripture. Here, from the time of Moses, we see the
fundamental equality of all people. How so?
We are equal
God is no respecter of persons; the ransom to be paid is the same
for the rich and the poor.
We are equal
All of us are sinners, and have fallen short of the glory of God. We
are also equally in danger of the fires of hell.
We are equal
in the value of our souls before God. He has made it clear here that he values us equally; we know that
Christ died for all.
interesting here that the poor and the rich must bring the same
amount. It’s not a very large amount of money; indeed, the medieval
Jewish sage Maimonides said that this amount was so small that even
a beggar should bring it — and it was permissible for him to beg for
We see the
same equality in communion as well. Our atonement is the sacrifice
of Christ. Therefore we all take the bread, which represents his
body. We all share in the cup, which represents his blood. None of
us is so favored as to get more, or less, than anyone else. This is
a ceremony in which we are all, inherently, equal. Christ is our
atonement; therefore there is no respect with regard to what you
might or might not have done in your life. You are not being
evaluated; you are being forgiven.
Interestingly, in the New Testament this atonement becomes known as
the “Temple tax.” Peter is challenged on this, as to whether or not
Christ will pay this tax (Matthew 17:24-27.) In that familiar
passage Jesus tells Peter that he, Jesus, is exempt from paying this
tax. This is a reflection of the fact that the Christ is sinless,
and is therefore suitable to be an atonement.
what Christ does with it. He takes it upon himself to pay that tax,
not only for himself but also for Peter. Now, it must be admitted
that his method (going fishing for shekels) is designed to make the
point. But within this we must also see that Christ voluntarily
submits to the law of Moses. He is setting the example for one and
all, just as he did at his baptism. It is a ransom, but it is a
ransom shared. He took upon himself human form, sharing it with us,
in order that he might pay the price of human sin — yours and mine.
As you partake this morning, remember the price he paid voluntarily
that he might be the atonement of our sins.