I took VTS’s survey course on the New Testament during my first year at seminary. I had The Rev. Dr. John Yieh, one of the most passionate professors on our faculty, and was blown away every class by some insight he had gleaned over his years of ministry in China and the US as well as his in-depth research on the New Testament. We talked about so much in that class it is hard for me to remember a lot of it, but this morning as I read the Mark passage for Proper 24 (10.35-45) I was pleased to notice what Dr. Yieh calls the KEY PASSAGE for understanding Mark’s Christology.
“For the Son of Man came not be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I feel like Proper 24 of Year B could be called Ransom Theory Sunday. In all three readings (the suffering servant – Isaiah, the sinless high priest – Hebrews, and James & John at the right and left – Mark) atonement theory seems to be the focus of the text.
Especially clear in the KEY verse in Mark, the Ransom Theory roughly explained is that due to our sin, the devil holds us hostage. In return for us the devil wants something he has not gained the right to; a perfect and sinless person. In the death of Jesus Christ, God gives the devil this Ransom, however it is only long enough to get us back from the devil as eternal death is the result of sin and therefore a sinless person cannot die forever, but must rise again.
There are lots of implications within Ransom Theory that make me uneasy; inherent universalism/paternalism, God using trickery to gain us back, etc., but it is a good theory to know as one begins to work out their own theology of atonement.
What’s more – I’m just excited I’m remembering stuff from classes – GOEs here I come.