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Ransomed

In 75 B.C. a group of pirates roaming the Aegean Sea spotted what they thought would be their next prey—a twenty-five-year-old Roman and his servants.  The pirates jumped into action and were able to kidnap the Roman.  They didn’t know who he was, but they were convinced this man would fetch a handsome ransom.  They got more than they bargained for. 

The captive man asked them, “How much am I being held ransom for?”

“Twenty talents,” they replied.  It’s hard to convey how eye-popping that would be.  That was a large ransom.  Back then, the average person would have to work 6,000 days (16 years!) to earn a single talent.  But the pirates were demanding twenty talents.  That would be 320 years’ worth of work and many millions of dollars in today’s money.  All this, just to set one young Roman free.  Who could afford such a price?

The young man laughed, finding their ransom demand ridiculous, but not for the reason they thought.  “You should demand fifty talents,” the man said.

No doubt, this really confused the kidnappers.  Had they kidnapped an insane man?  He was actually bidding them up.  They didn’t know what to do.  “Sure.  Fifty talents, then.  Pay that and we’ll set you free.”

The young man agreed, then sent his servants off to collect the money for him.  Meanwhile, the young man settled in for what he knew would be an extended captivity.  After all, it would take some time for the servants to collect the money and then return.  So, the young man spent his days writing poetry and then insulting his captors when they failed to appreciate his brilliant compositions.  If they were too loud while he tried to sleep, he would forcibly shush them.  In fact, he spoke to the pirates like they were his servants.  And for kidnapping him, he told them he would have them crucified.  They thought he was joking.

It took thirty-eight days, but the servants returned with fifty talents and the Roman was set free.  The Roman’s name?  Julius Caesar. 

Julius hadn’t taken over the Roman government yet.  He wasn’t at his full height of power.  But even at that age, he was a powerful man.  Once free, he used his influence to gather an army, hunt down the pirates, and, true to his word, he had them crucified.

We are a little like Julius Caesar.  Like him, we were taken captive.  Not by pirates, but by sin.  The flesh has overpowered us and condemned us unless an impossible ransom price was paid.  No amount of money, animals, or earthly possessions could satisfy the high price to set us free.  But the Bible tells us that Jesus paid the price (Mt. 20:28; I Tim. 2:6).  Our ransom has been paid by the blood of Jesus, and we’ve been set free.

However, once free, what will we do?  Julius went to war against his captors and that is precisely what we are supposed to do as well.  He crucified the pirates.  We are to crucify the flesh.  “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24).  We are to fight against sin, not just because God doesn’t like sin, but because we are freed captives, and we don’t want to be so foolish as to be taken captive again.

Do you act like a person who is vigilant never to be enslaved again?