“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation’ ” (Revelation 5:9).
THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN! Reminiscent of the Passover lamb in Israel, Jesus was a greater sacrifice, enabling God to justify mankind from its sins. John the Baptist said on one occasion as he saw Jesus coming toward him, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). In Revelation, no one but this Lamb is worthy to open the scroll containing God’s purposes for mankind (Revelation 5:4,5). And He is qualified to do so — “for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (v.9).
To “ransom” is to redeem. When people are in trouble and can’t deliver themselves, a redeemer is one who offers to pay the price to solve the problem for them. So it was that by offering His life, Jesus Christ ransomed us. He allowed us to be forgiven and released from the penalty of death. As a result of the ransom price being paid, our chains are now broken. God has a people who once were slaves but now are free to belong to Him in the most special sense. It is “for God” that we’ve been ransomed.
Revelation 5:9 emphasizes that this ransomed people will be made up of those “from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Jesus had said to the Jews, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16).
There are many scriptural ways Christians may view themselves, but none is any more beneficial than to think of ourselves as having been ransomed. It is dangerous to forget that we are only able to be God’s people because He rescued us. If gratitude for grace is the most motivating force in the world, then Christians should surely be the most motivated people in the world, for they are reminded, at least once a week when they partake of the Lord’s Supper, that when God delivered them from their slavery to sin, it was an act of sheer grace. It would be a hardhearted person indeed who could know this and not respond with both awestruck reverence and the gratitude which leads to faithful obedience.
“Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues” (John R. W. Stott).