As I was browsing the web the other day, I came across a sermon that was written by an old and dear friend of mine. My parents were both saved under the ministry of Pastor Thomas H. Lorimer while they were attending the Waukeshaw First Church of the Nazarene in Waukeshaw WI. His church was the first Bible-believing church I had ever been to, but it certainly was not the last. Had my parents not come to know the Lord when I was young, perhaps I would never have considered the Gospel message for myself. I chose this sermon for publication on my website because I find it to be one of the most touching Salvation messages ever given. Even if you have no interest in the Salvation message, PLEASE READ THIS!
WHAT A RANSOM!
Thomas H. Lorimer
It was tearful departure. Norbert Reinhart was leaving his wife Casey and his three children. He had a son Jesse, age 18, a daughter Robin, age 6 and a little girl, Molly, only two years old. He had a comfortable job - he was the owner of Terramundo Drilling Company, a mining-exploration company based in southern Alberta. He had a nice home and friends. He was successful. Why, it looked like he had everything a man could want.
But today Norbert was leaving home, job, family and friends and it was possible they would never see him again. He was headed to the jungle.
In a different part of the world, Ed Leonard spent another boring day. He was trapped. His days had been like this for weeks. Nothing really to do. He was separated from his family and from any communication with them. The days had turned into months.
Ed was an expert in drilling through rock. He was hired to drill for gold in northeast Columbia. Unfortunately, that is right in the middle of rebel guerrilla country. He went to work on June 17, 1998. He was kidnaped by Communist guerrillas five days later. He was taken hostage and driven into the wilderness until the roads ended. Then the group hiked for some forty days deep into the mountains. There life went on hold. He was deep in the jungle with no hope of escape.
These guerrillas wanted two million dollars ransom. Two million dollars. These are the guerrillas who if they don’t get their demands, usually kill the hostage and then go kidnap someone else.
Negotiations began for the release of Ed Leonard. Different groups got involved. There were the humanitarian groups like Amnesty International and the Red Cross. The Canadian and Columbian governments entered the talks. Church groups, family, his employer pleaded the cause. Nothing was working. It looked like Ed would die.
Ed was sixty years old and now was separated from friends, family, and almost from hope itself. July turned to August and then to September. Would he ever see his family again? Or would he die in this wilderness and be buried in an unmarked grave? Would he even be buried? Would they shot him and just leave him to rot?
The weeks slipped by. September ran into October and Ed was still in the jungle. On October 6th, 1998, Ed was loaded up by guerrillas with machine guns and taken to a narrow mountain road. Was this it? Had time run out?
As Ed got out of the vehicle, he looked and there stood a total stranger. “Hi, I’m Norbert Reinhart,” the man said. “It’s time to go home. I’m taking your place.”
What? Yes, it is true. There seemed to be no one who could intercede and free Ed. But there was one. Norbert, the owner of the company Ed worked for. He could free Ed by taking his place. Mr. Leonard was released and walked free. Norbert Reinhart disappeared into the jungle, a hostage now to communist guerrillas.
What a story! As I thought of this very heroic and noble Canadian, I was reminded of a similar account.
You started down life’s road. It was not too long before you were captured by spiritual guerrillas - Satan and his cohorts. They kidnaped you and hauled you into the jungle of sin and bondage. No way out. The ransom was more than you could pay.
The jungle can look different for different people. For some it is the jungle of lying and dishonesty. Others it is the jungle of lust and sex. Some are trapped in the jungle of anger and hate. For others, it is drugs, money, the occult and the list goes on and on. But it is the same wilderness with no way out.
Groups got involved. The government tried to make laws and set up programs that would save you from your sin and deliver you from your damning habits. It didn’t work. Education was not able to train you out. Humanitarian groups could not give you enough aid. Counselors couldn’t do it. Employers failed. Family, friends and even church groups could not release you. They all tried but no one can deliver you.
If nothing changes, you will die! I am not just talking about a physical death. No there is a more serious death - a spiritual death. If you die in this jungle of sin, you will be taken to a deeper, more devastating jungle - hell. There will be no exit, and time will run on forever. There will be no hope.
What then can be done? Is there no hope for you? Has time run out?
Wait! There is one who can do something about your situation. He is the owner! God Almighty. In Jesus, He left His family, His home, His security, His position, and His reputation. He came alone, by Himself, on purpose - to take your place.
Jesus meets you on the cross. “Hi, I’m Jesus. It’s time to go home now. I’m taking your place.” And you go free.
Ed Leonard worked for Norbert Reinhart. It is true that they had never met before that day in October but they were in the same company with the same plans and goals. They were a part of the same team.
But you were a rebel yourself. You had rebelled against God, against His laws. You were not in the same organization. But Jesus still took your place.
The Bible tells us in Rom 5:6-10. (NKJV) For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
No, you were not on the same side. You were a sinner, an enemy of the Kingdom of God. Jesus went beyond even what Norbert Reinhart did in order to free you. He wanted to take your place even though you were a rebel and running from God.
But I must tell you - you have a choice to make.
What if Ed Leonard would have refused? What if he said, “I’d rather stay in my misery and die like a dog without a funeral or ever even being buried.”
Or what if he said to Norbert, “I don’t need your help. Let me figure out how to get out of this myself. Let me do it my way.” How stupid!
Can you image anyone rejecting Jesus’ offer? Can you imagine someone saying “I’d rather stay in my misery and die an eternal death in a graveless hell of eternal insignificance and hopelessness?” Can you imagine someone saying, “Let me just figure this out myself. I can get out if I do it my way?”
But what is your response? What have you told Jesus? The only correct and proper response to Jesus is to accept His ransom for you. Turn to Jesus now and you can walk free. Accept His offer and take Him as your deliverer.
The only correct thing to do is to humble yourself before Jesus and say, “Oh, Jesus. I accept what you did for me. I know I was trapped in my jungle of sins. Forgive my sins. Set me free. I take you to be my Deliverer. I will love and serve you. Thank you, Jesus!”
Let me tell you the rest of the story. Norbert Reinhart did not die in the jungle. He was able to go home to his family again. He was released January 12, 1999. ($70,000 ransom paid) He came home to a hero’s welcome. His family was there and supporters and the press and so on. The story was wired around the globe to newspapers, radio and TV. It is on the Internet. He has received movie offers and so on. It is the story of a noble, honorable and courageous man who was willing to take the place of one of his employees.
Now let me tell you about Jesus. He did die. He did take your penalty. He took your place. And He was buried and put away.
But He was released. It was on a Sunday morning that Jesus walked from the grave. He defeated death, Satan, hell and the grave!
Hebrews 2:14-15 (NKJV) says, Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Jesus destroyed death. He destroyed the one who had the power of death. He released you! You can live forever!
Think of the hero’s welcome when Jesus ascended back to heaven. The story went out around the globe. Jesus is alive. He has returned to heaven. We are ransomed.
Multitudes for generations have told and are telling the story.
It is still the best news today. You can be redeemed! Jesus took your place. He says to you, “Friend, it is time to go home. It is time to join the family of God. I am taking your place!” You can go free!
What will you tell Jesus? What do you tell Him, now?
Thomas H. Lorimer
Vancleve, KY 41385