Monday, January 22, 2024

Sold for the Price of Slaves: The High Price of our Redemption

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Many of us have never experienced becoming a slave or being sold as one. However, people are going through this experience in our modern times. Did it change throughout these many years? It is unlikely because the reasoning behind it comes from the same motivation Joseph experienced from his brothers. Thus, one of the worst experiences in the life of Joseph came from his brothers when they sold him for the price of a slave.  In the book of Genesis, we find this record:

Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. 28Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.” (37:26-28 ESV)

“In Hebrew culture, thirty pieces of silver was not a lot of money. In fact, it was the exact price paid to the master of a slave if and when his slave was gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32). The slave’s death was compensated by the thirty pieces of silver.”[1] What went wrong in this scenario? The odds between them, whether Joseph became aware or not, caused undue friction leading to Joseph’s outcast: 

From Joseph’s point of view, these dreams were evidence of divine blessing, rather than his own ambition. From his brothers’ point of view, however, the dreams were further manifestations of the unfair privilege that Joseph enjoyed as the favorite son of their father, Jacob (Gen. 37:3-4). Joseph’s failure to recognize this put him at severe odds with his brothers.[2]

Isaac Khalil in his article “Lessons From the Life of Joseph” (December 15, 2021) shared, 

Remember the dreams Joseph had when he was young? The brothers had interpreted the dreams as Joseph ruling and lording it over them (Genesis 37:8, 10). So they attacked him based on this interpretation. It wasn’t until Joseph revealed himself that they realized the dreams weren’t about lordship, but about salvation and service. God sent Joseph before them to save them from a terrible famine that was coming. Joseph told his brothers, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).[3]

In this case, they took offence without understanding the whole picture. When people look at any situation, the immediate reaction comes in a positive impact or taking offence. However, God is always looking at the long view of His plans, and no matter what happens, He’s got a plan for you and me regardless of what people think or feel about us. Joseph’s life provided a parallel truth in Jesus’ betrayal as Matthew shared it: 

 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:14-15 ESV).

For many, it is unthinkable what Judas Iscariot did to Jesus. G. Connor Salter, in his article, “Did Judas Iscariot Have a Choice to Betray Jesus?” (March 14, 2022) shared:

We know from historians that various people claiming to be the Messiah were active in Judea at the time, many trying to overthrow the Romans or change the religious order. Therefore, it’s possible that Judas figured Jesus was going to seize authority for himself soon and being part of Jesus’ “in-group” would benefit him. Once he realized that Jesus’ goals didn’t fit his own agenda, he may have been angered by that and wanted Jesus out of the way.”[4]

The betrayal of Jesus for the paltry price of a slave became the ultimate price of our redemption from the slavery of sin, Satan, and death’s power at the cross of Calvary. It is the message the apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian believers: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Jesus redeemed us from a life of slavery and set us free, although not set free to do whatever we want. Rather, being free in serving Jesus, the One who died and redeemed us for His purpose and plan (1 Peter 2:16).  Jesus went through it all so we can become more than conquerors for His glory and praise. 

In the end, Judas Iscariot, and many others like him confirmed that an outward devotion to Jesus is hollow unless Christ is followed wholeheartedly as a genuine disciple. Following Jesus is having His agenda front and center of our lives while our agenda becomes set aside. When we do it His way, our lives are enriched from an eternal perspective.

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