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"... [T]he Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). 
"I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.... I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word" (John 17:9, 20).
Most of us are familiar with the term ransom.  It is seen in popular movies and provides a thrilling plot: So-and-so is threatening to destroy such-and-such a place unless certain demands are met in time.  Will the ransom be paid?  Will the ransom be received in time?  Will the one demanding the ransom actually keep their word?  These questions and more keep the viewer on the edge of their seat.
Never have I seen, however, a ransom paid before it was demanded.  No one gives a huge sum of money to a villain, saying, "Here is my payment... ya know, just in case."  We know this would be foolish.  A ransom is not based on chance events, but on serious matters regarding life and death.

Why, then, do we treat the glorious Gospel as if it were left to mere chance?

God did not send Jesus so people would have the chance to be saved.  He is Sovereign over all things including the salvation of sinners.  God didn't foolishly leave the death of His Son to luck, just as someone would not pay a ransom in the event that someone might need it someday.  No, ransoms are paid for specific realities and actual situations.

Likewise, Jesus came to save a specific number; He came to ransom an actual people.  These are His elect, the sheep of His hand, of which "no one can pluck out of His hand" (John 6:44).

Furthermore, in Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus prays specifically and explicitly for His people - His disciples - and not for the whole world (He makes the distinction painfully clear).  He also prays for His people who will believe in His Name through His disciples testimony (the inspired, written Word of God).  In other words, Jesus prays for those who will believe in His Name, not for those who might believe in His Name.  This should bring great comfort to those who trust in His Name today, for He knows whom He has saved.

In short, Christ's death was the ransom demanded for the life of His Bride.  This, indeed, is what He paid, and He received His Bride - the Church.

Brothers and sisters, let us not doubt the grace of our Lord, given freely to His people through the blood of His Son, whom He gave as a ransom.  Instead, let us give glory to God and "go tell it on a mountain" that all of His people would effectively receive His ransom, which will certainly save all His people in due time.  This Christmas season, remember that the baby who was born in a manger was sent as a ransom for sinners like you and I, whom God redeemed through His Son, that He might make an unblemished, eternal Bride for His Son!

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the Law of the Spirit of Life has set me free in Christ Jesus from the Law of Sin and Death" (Romans 8:1-2).