Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jesus our ransom

I've been wondering what angle I should take for lesson 2 (Salvation) of our Following Jesus Sunday School program. The basic point need to be that it was important to Jesus that we be saved, therefore our salvation (and that of others) should be important to us. In each unit I write I try to have one lesson that spells out the mechanics of salvation fairly clearly. This is it for this series. I need to do it differently to how I've done it in other units or the kids will feel like they've heard it all before. I'm trying out the ransom angle. For week 4 (service) we are looking at Mark 10:45, so this makes sense. But the ransom angle is a tricky one. If you're a theologian-type, maybe you can tell me if I've fallen into any error.

I'll use the Biff and Bash motorcycle gang drama to kick things off: After some initial banter going on about their code (tatts, glasses, bikes, moustaches) B and B hear the postman's bike and pay out on it. His bike's got a little girl 'vroom' compared with their bikes that have a big mamma 'vroom'. When they get the mail they find a ransom note saying something like this:

To Biff
I got ya bike.
I like it. It got da big deep vroom.
Ya want it back? Then leave 50 bucks in the jar behind the tree.
from X

Biff and Bash debate about paying the ransom. They value the bike and end up paying it.

Then move to the talk bit.  I thought I might make a similar looking ransom note:

To God,

Your rules say that everyone who sins belongs to me forever.
__________________ has sinned so she is mine! If you want her back you need to pay the ransom: One perfect life. Give me one perfect person and I'll give you ____________________ .

Hope you are unwell.


I can use verses from the epistles to talk about sin and us deserving death and then go to Mark 10:45 and talk about Jesus dying as our ransom. But should I have written the note from Death? Better ideas? Anyone?


  1. The problem with the letter is that it sounds like someone apart from God is calling the shots. Can it be fixed or should I try to find a new idea?

  2. Yeah, the trouble is, God never seems to pay the ransom to anyone. From the point of view of your drama/talk, this is a bummer. From the point of view of keeping him sovereign, I think Mark would call this a Very Good Idea.

    Can it be fixed? Tough one. I'll have a go.

    The postman delivers, not a ransom note, but a letter from the council/RTA/whatever saying the bike was parked illegally and has been impounded. Biff has to pay to get his bike back from where it isn't meant to be.

    God's ransom-paying then becomes about getting us back from where we're not meant to be (ie apart from him).

    I think - and it may be just me - that the big grey anonymous entity that ends up getting the fine attracts less attention, and you can focus more on how the bike belongs with Biff. I guess the trick is to minimise all interest in the third party in the drama, so that there need be no third party in the talk at all.

    Sure, it means the word ransom isn't so obvious. But can you just use your own translation? Or explain it with a more helpful gloss?

    Ransom notes are very exciting, and letters with windows are anything but. This may reduce the dramatic tension somewhat...;-)

  3. Agreed Anthony, ransom is the fun but difficult image for teaching kids. Great idea for a way of doing it without having ransom paid to death or the devil. Good stuff.

    @Simone: Depending on the angle you want to take, it could be interesting if the gang leader paid the fine.

    Also, I have an interesting real life story about chaining my bike to a friend's bike at uni one day. It turned out the bike wasn't actually my friend's. Long story that resulted in a police chase. Amazing day.

  4. Kutz - I dislike dramas that have too many parallels with the teaching point. The allegorical thing makes me a little nauseous. But I'll think on it.

  5. I've yet to understand what you're reacting to as you go about putting together this unit Simone. It's certainly an interesting mix of stuff!

    There are plenty of ways you could do it where it would be unhelpful, and some where it may help. Just an idea for you. I'm not so much an inside part of planning this as standing on the outside throwing in thoughts, practically speaking, so I'll happily trust you to do a top job with whatever ends up in the pot.

  6. Don't think I'm reacting to anything. The idea started from Tim Chester's book 'The Ordinary Hero' which is about living life following the example of Jesus on the cross. It morphed a bit from there, some concepts were too tricky to do with kids in four weeks. We needed a topical unit on godly living. I think the angle of following Jesus, valuing the things he valued, is as good as any (though in no way the only way it could have been done.)

  7. Hey Simone, sorry about my misunderstanding!

    I was referring just specifically to your statement about not liking too many parallels with the teaching point. I didn't quite get what you meant by that. The thing is, I hadn't read your post properly, I missed a whole section out. Having re-read and understood it properly, I now can see exactly what you mean.

    Looking forward to teaching it to the kids soon!

  8. Hi (it's the ukulele player again). I seems to me that the story, whatever it is, needs to stay with the principle that God is the innocent offended party, who personally takes action to rescue those who have offended him deeply. After all, death is the penalty that he and no one else prescribed for the offenders. It is also he and no one else who acted as our redeeming substitute (paid the penalty). It's like the king in Matthew 18 (or thereabouts) who was owed, and suffered great loss to set the debtors free. Dont know if this helps you at all.