Saturday, 12 April 2008

Geerhardus Vos on freedom

The latest quote on Biblical freedom comes from Geerhardus Vos in a sermon he gave at Princeton University in 1913. The sermon can be read in full here.

The sermon was on Mark 10:45, which gave the FREE project its very name: 'For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.' Here is an extended quote:

Let us look for a few moments into the supreme end of our Lord's service and the method pursued towards accomplishing this. His ministry had for its supreme end the procuring of freedom of those for whom he gave his life. It was a ministry with that specific thing in view. It was not to help them generally, but to set them free. This is clearly given with the contrast between what he does and what the rulers of the Gentiles do (Mark 10:42). They lord it over them and exercise authority. That is to say: their striving is to make their subjects minister unto them and more and more to reduce them to a state of bondage. Jesus' purpose is the opposite. He came to minister unto men so as to place them in a state of freedom.

The same thing is also explicitly stated in the figure of the ransom-giving here employed by our Lord. A ransom is that which buys the freedom of a person. The many, therefore, for whom our Lord gives his life are in a state of bondage and his death procures their liberation.

Christ gave his life as a ransom. That is to say he deliberately took his life and put it into the bondage of guilt and shame and death in which our lives were held by the divine justice. To become a ransom means to take the place of the other and accept all the consequences. And this Jesus did. I am afraid that as a rule we do not penetrate far enough into the mystery of the cross to realize this situation. What must it have meant to the Son of God whose blessed life had never been disturbed by the least cloud of trouble to enter into that tremendous strain of the divine justice, to feel the waves of guilt and wrath unleashing their fury upon him, so that he cried out in the bitterness of his anguish: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” All this and more than we can possibly realize lies in this single phrase—that he gave his life a ransom for many. But only in the same proportion that we realize something of all this shall we begin to measure what is meant by the other phrase that he came to minister, and what is the unique force of the admonition that we should minister not like, but at an infinite distance minister as he did minister.

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