He owed nothing but paid him off anyway. Jesus said he came to give his life—a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). The word “ransom” is just one way the Bible describes what Jesus did when he died on the cross. We quickly understand that we were the ones Jesus ransomed, but have you stopped to think who got the payoff? Who was holding us hostage? Did someone benefit from the ransom that was paid? And why didn’t God just send in the heavenly SWAT team?
The idea that a ransom was paid, as Jesus stated it, reaches back into the Old Testament. We quickly think of hostages, but the imagery from Exodus is of slavery. God delivered his people from the burden and bondage of the Egyptians with his power and mighty judgments (Ex. 6:6). This becomes a picture of God redeeming his people from sin’s slavery.
Some are wrong in thinking the ransom was paid to Satan. Satan actually has no part in this transaction. Satan did want something from Jesus. Satan offered the world to Jesus, if Jesus would worship him (Luke 4:5-8). Of course, Jesus wasn’t about to give Satan anything but a stiff rebuke.
The idea that a ransom was paid points not “to whom” it was paid, but rather points to the “high price” that was paid. So, wondering “who got paid off” is probably the wrong question. Mark 10:45 should astonish us. Jesus stated that he came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as the price for our release from slavery. The ransom paid points to Jesus.
So what happened when Jesus paid this ransom? Redemption. Those who are redeemed are freed from sin (Romans 5:18; 6:6; 8:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:24), the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13), condemnation (Rom. 8:1), the Mosaic Code (Rom. 7:1-5; 1 Cor. 9:20-21; Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14-23) and spiritual (demonic) powers of darkness (Col 1:13-17).
There is now nothing holding you back from the throne of God, if you trust in the gift that has been given: Jesus Christ. A ransom had to be paid. A perfectly loving God offers forgiveness, and a God of justice makes sure that the penalty is paid. God, who “so loved the world,” provided Jesus Christ to be the bridge. Jesus, the ransom-payer, becomes the mediator between God and man. He took on your sin, became the curse, was condemned in your place, fulfilled the Mosaic code and destroyed the grip Satan, sin and death had over you. If you are in Christ, you are truly free. The one who benefits from the ransom paid can be you.