Column: The price is (not) right

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Let’s take a hard look at where the New Testament says Jesus on the Cross is:

– a “price” for our souls,

– a “payment” for our transgressions,

– a “punishment” for our sins,

– a “penalty” for our fallenness.

Go ahead, look. I’ll wait.

OK, you found 1 Corinthians 6 and 7, with Paul telling the broken Corinthian church to come together in the truth of Jesus because they were “bought at a price.” Fair enough. That was Paul telling a fractured first century fellowship of Jews, Gentiles, mystics and miscreants – in terms of worldly transaction they could understand – about the divine sacrifice of Christ, a sacrifice that was made on their behalf, a sacrifice that accomplished a work impossible for humans: i.e., restoration to God’s Kingdom. “Price” here is a metaphor, a device to aid understanding of a gift too large to comprehend.

Revelation 22:17: “… let the one who is thirsty … take the water of life without price.” Get that? No price; not on the head of Jesus. And while we’re at it, “ransom,” used three times regarding Jesus’s sacrifice, refers to a way out of bondage – our way out of bondage – not a price-driven transaction among the Holy Trinity. C’mon.

Payment? Not really in there, is it? Not about Jesus. But there is this in Revelation 21:6: “To the thirsty I will give … the water of life without payment.” Again, “without payment.”

How about a verse claiming Jesus was punished for our sins? Checking the English Standard Version Bible, punishment appears eight times, each pointing to some combination of eternity, the unrighteous and fire; in other words, Hell. Nothing about Jesus. Consider 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love … fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” In Jesus, there was no fear of punishment as retribution; in His perfect love He endured one infinitely tough – infinitely punishing – day on the cross. But “punishment”? Not in scripture.

And … penalty. Paul uses this in Acts 28:18 about himself facing a Roman court; in Romans 1:27 regarding homosexuality; and in Galatians 5:10 regarding Jews who hinder the Christian faithful. Nothing about the cross.

Christians, please, heed all scripture says about grace, mercy, joy and peace, the overwhelming message of salvation. The overwhelming message of Old Testament futility is price, payment, punishment and penalty.

Yes I’m a sinner, thankful to Jesus for His love, resolution, steadfastness and for His faithfulness to His Father’s glory.

Let’s none of us insult Him by asking what He paid it.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) hates to see Jesus marketed via shame, guilt, fear, sin … or moral transaction. Where’s the love?



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