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Jesus gave His life as a ranson for many
Jesus gave His life as a ranson for many
Christ showed his desire to serve when he washed the feet of his disciples and then sacrificed his life to offer the gift of salvation to all humanity.
Christ reveals himself throughout his earthly life as the Saviour sent by the Father for the salvation of the world. His very name, "Jesus," "God saves" expresses this mission.
It is a name he was given as a result of heavenly instruction: both Mary and Joseph (Lk 1:31; Mt 1:21) receive the order to call him by this name: "for he will save his people from their sins."
Christ defines his saving mission as a service whose highest expression will be the sacrifice of this life for mankind: "For the Son of man also came not to be served but serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mk 10:45; Mt 20:28) These words are primarily meant to awaken in them a new mentality, which conforms more closely to that of the Teacher.
In the Book of Daniel, the figure described as "one like a son of man" is shown surrounded by the glory due to leaders who receive universal veneration: "all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him." (Dn 7:14) Jesus contrasts this figure with the Son of man who puts himself at the service of all, and in saying he had "come to serve," he shows a disturbing aspect of God's behaviour although he has the right and the power to make himself served, he puts himself "at the service" of his creatures.
Jesus is the only Saviour and Mediator
Jesus expresses this desire to serve in an eloquent and moving way as the Last Supper when he washes his disciples' feet: a symbolic act which will be impressed as a rule of life on their memory for ever: "You also ought to wash one another's feet." (Jn 13:14)
In saying so, Jesus is referring to the prophecy of the suffering Servant who "makes himself an offering for sin." (Is 53:10)
It is a personal sacrifice, very different from the animal sacrifices used in ancient worship. It is a life given "as a ransom for many," that is, for humanity, for "all."
Jesus thus appears as the universal Saviour: all human beings, according to the divine plan, are ransomed, freed and saved by him Paul says. "Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." (Rom 3:24) Salvation is a gift that can be received by each one to the extent of his free consent and voluntary co-operation.
As universal Saviour, Christ is the only Saviour. Peter affirms this clearly: "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
At the same time, he is also proclaimed the only mediator between God and men: "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all," (1 Tm 2:5-6) As the God-man, Jesus is the perfect mediator. This is a unique mediation which excludes any competing or parallel mediation, although it is compatible with participated forms of mediation. (cf Redemptoris missio, 5)
Thus in the great religions, which the Church considers with respect and esteem in the way indicated by the Second Vatican Council, Christians recognise the presence of saving elements, which nevertheless operate in dependence on the influence of Christ's grace. Therefore these religions can contribute, by virtue of the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit who "blows where he wills," (Jn 3:8) to helping men on their way to eternal happiness, but this role is also the fruit of Christ's redemptive activity. Thus, Christ the Saviour is also mysteriously at work. He unites to himself the Church, which is in a way the "sacrament of communion with God and of unity among all men." (Lumen gentium, 1)
Christ alone can satisfy all our desires
I would like to conclude with a wonderful passage from the Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, by St. Louis de Montfort: "Jesus Christ, is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of everything... He is the only teacher from whom we must learn; the only Lord on whom we should depend; the only Head to whom we should be united and the only model that we should imitate. He is the only Physician that can heal us; the only Shepherd that can feed us; the only Way that can lead us, the only Truth that we can believe; the only Life that can animate us. He alone is everything to us and he alone can satisfy all our desires... If we live in Jesus and Jesus lives in us, we need not fear damnation. Neither angels in heaven nor men on earth, nor devils in hell, no creature whatever can harm us, for no creature can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Through him, with him and in him we can do all things and render all honour and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, we can become perfect and be for our neighbour a fragrance of eternal life."
Pope John Paul II
General Audience, Feb 4, 1998