April 20, 2015
... God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all .... 1 Timothy 2:3b-6a
"To the shores of Tripoli."
Those familiar words are taken from the official hymn of the United States Marine Corps.
They refer to the first time U.S. troops fought and won a victory on foreign soil. In this case the war was the First Barbary War, which was fought in the first decade of the 1800s. Our president at the time was Thomas Jefferson and the enemy was the Ottoman provinces of Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis, and the independent Sultanate of Morocco.
Naturally, there was a reason for this war. The Barbary Coasters attacked and captured American ships, enslaved their crews and passengers, and demanded a ransom be paid for their release. The amount they were charging to leave American interests unmolested amounted to 10 percent of the new nation's budget.
It was a price Jefferson was not willing to pay, and America went to war.
That history lesson would be just that if it were not for the fact that today, more than 200 years after Jefferson sent the Marines to Africa, the United States finds herself dealing with the ISIS government, which has captured and demanded the ransom of American citizens. As this is being written, they are negotiating for the ransom of 250 to 300 Christians who were kidnapped in February.
The going rate for ransom is $100,000 per person: a price most families and nations in Africa cannot pay. How this whole situation will play out is in the hands of the world leaders. Some will pay the ransom; others will not.
You know there was a time when the whole human race had been captured by Satan and was enslaved by sin. For us there would never be any freedom, and we were destined to remain under their authority forever. Not even temporal death would allow us to escape from their control.
That is the way it would have stayed if the Lord had not sent His Son into this world to pay our ransom. Yes, humanity has been ransomed. We were not ransomed with silver and gold. Oh, no. Our release was paid for with the Savior's holy precious blood and Jesus' innocent suffering and death.
The ransom Jesus paid was undeserved and, all too often, it is unappreciated.
By God's grace and with Holy Spirit-given faith, I pray you may not dismiss the sacrifice the Savior made. Far better, as Luther said, we should "thank and praise, serve and obey Him."
May this be most certainly true.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I pray that earthly captives might be made free. Even more I ask that the Holy Spirit come upon and grant faith and freedom to those who are still enslaved by sin. Let the world know Jesus has paid the ransom for their release. In the Savior's Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries