A THOUSAND FOR ONE LEAVES THE WORLD SCRATCHING ITS HEAD
Oct. 18, 2011
Interesting development in world news today that has left much of the world scratching its head. It seems the life of one Israeli prisoner was given for the life of a thousand Palestinian prisoners. Comments like, “is a thousand for one individual a worthwhile trade?” are echoing all over the airwaves. It is seemingly senseless. It is almost as if the world has never seen anything like it.
But truth be told, this kind of prisoner exchange is not without precedent. Actually, it is a daily occurrence, and people far and wide have always struggled to make sense of such an unfathomable transaction. One Jew for 1000 enemies? How can it be? How can anyone see this as a right and fair exchange?
I can’t claim to make sense of something so humanly ridiculous and am far from capable of explaining something so beyond earthly reason. But this one thing I know. I have personally been touched by one of those transactions, and my life has never been the same.
30 years ago, I was one of those thousands. I was one of those enemies. Indeed, I was one of those prisoners. Yet I experienced a similar walk to freedom, and my freedom, too, came at the costly price of one Jew. I am just one of the thousands, one of the many. And all that can be said is, “How can it be?”
Let me try to explain what I am able, what I do know. That is, there was once a high priest in Israel around the year 33 named Caiaphas.
"Then one of them—it was Caiaphas, the designated Chief Priest that year—spoke up, "Don't you know anything? Can't you see that it's to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?" He didn't say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, and not only for the nation but so that all God's exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people." (John 11:49-52; The Message)
At that same time, there was one Jewish prisoner named Jesus.
"Then the soldiers with their commander and the guards arrested Jesus. They tied him and led him first to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who told the Jews that it would be better if one man died for all the people." (John 18:12-14, NCV)
50 years ago, there came another man, and that man is me. I was born a prisoner of a sin-life that has touched all men who have ever been born of a woman and a man.
"You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in— first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it." (Rom. 5:12-14, The Message)
2000 years before me, that one man, Jesus surrendered His life, a prisoner by choice, as a ransom for this man, a prisoner of sin, a prisoner by choice, and for many, many other prisoners along the way. Perhaps, even you?
"Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man's sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God's gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There's no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man's wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?" (Rom 5:15-17, The Message)
I (along with many others) have forever been set free from the chains that once bound me. I have been given a future, indeed, a new life through the acceptable transfer of the one prisoner, my enemy, the Jew, Jesus Christ.
"Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men." (Rom 5:18, NIV)
A thousand in exchange for the one? It can’t be. Or can it? Since that day 2000 years ago, people through the ages have struggled to make sense of such an exchange. A thousand in exchange for the one? Foolishness.
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.'
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles…" (1 Cor. 1:18-23, NIV)
One in exchange for many. A news story? Definitely. But a new story? Not at all. Unfathomable? Without question.
A THOUSAND FOR ONE LEAVES THE WORLD SCRATCHING ITS HEAD© Gregory C. Sundra All Rights ReservedUSAOhioDaytoncloudscumulusskyCopyright Gregory C. Sundra All Rights ReservedRich MullinsAndrew PetersondeathIsraelIsraeli Palestinian prisoner exchangeA Thousand For OneA Thousand To OneJesus Christprisonerexchangesacrifice