1, 2. (a) What makes a gift valuable to you? (b) Why is the ransom God’s greatest gift?
WHAT is the best gift you have ever received? A gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be valuable to you. When a gift makes you happy or is something you really need, you feel grateful for it.
2 Of all the gifts that God has given us, there is one gift that we need more than anything else. It is God’s greatest gift to humans. In this chapter, we will learn that Jehovah sent his Son, Jesus Christ, so that we can live forever. (Read Matthew 20:28.) By sending Jesus to the earth as a ransom, Jehovah has proved that he really loves us.
WHAT IS THE RANSOM?
3. Why do humans die?
3 The ransom is Jehovah’s way of freeing humans from sin and death. (Ephesians 1:7) To understand why the ransom was needed, we have to know what happened thousands of years ago in the garden of Eden. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned. Because they sinned, they died. We also die because we inherited sin from Adam and Eve.—See Endnote 9.
4. Who was Adam, and what did he have?
4 When Jehovah created the first man, Adam, He gave him something very precious. He gave Adam perfect human life. He had a perfect mind and a perfect body. He would never get sick, would never grow old, and would never die. Because Jehovah created Adam, He was like a father to him. (Luke 3:38) Jehovah regularly talked to him. God clearly explained to Adam what he expected from him and gave him enjoyable work to do.—Genesis 1:28-30; 2:16, 17.
5. What does it mean when the Bible says that Adam was made “in God’s image”?
5 Adam was created “in God’s image.” (Genesis 1:27) Jehovah gave him qualities like His own, including love, wisdom, justice, and power. He gave Adam free will. Adam was not a robot. God created him so that he could choose to do right or wrong. If Adam had chosen to obey God, he could have lived forever in Paradise.
6. When Adam disobeyed God, what did he lose? How does this affect us?
6 When he disobeyed God and was sentenced to death, Adam paid a very high price. He lost his special friendship with Jehovah, his perfect life, and his Paradise home. (Genesis 3:17-19) Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, so there was no hope for them. Because of what Adam did, “sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) When Adam sinned, he “sold” himself and us into slavery to sin and death. (Romans 7:14) Is there any hope for us? Yes, there is.
7, 8. What is a ransom?
7 What is a ransom? The idea of a ransom basically involves two things. First, a ransom is the price paid to release someone or to buy something back. Second, a ransom is the price that covers, or pays, the cost of something.
8 No human could pay for the enormous damage that Adam did when he sinned and brought death upon us. But Jehovah provided the way to free us from sin and death. Let us learn how the ransom works and how we can benefit from it.
HOW JEHOVAH PROVIDED THE RANSOM
9. How could the ransom be paid?
9 None of us could ever pay the ransom for the perfect life that Adam lost. Why not? Because all of us are imperfect. (Psalm 49:7, 8) The ransom that had to be paid was another perfect human life. That is why it is called “a corresponding ransom.” (1 Timothy 2:6) The ransom had to have the same value as the life that Adam lost.
10. How did Jehovah provide the ransom?
10 How did Jehovah provide the ransom? Jehovah sent his most precious Son to the earth. This Son, Jesus, was his very first creation. (1 John 4:9, 10) Jesus was willing to leave his Father and his home in heaven. (Philippians 2:7) Jehovah transferred Jesus from heaven to earth, and Jesus was born as a perfect human, without sin.—Luke 1:35.
11. How could one man be the ransom for all humans?
11 The first man, Adam, lost perfect life for all humans when he disobeyed Jehovah. Could another man remove death for all of Adam’s children? Yes. (Read Romans 5:19.) Jesus, who never sinned, gave his perfect life as the ransom. (1 Corinthians 15:45) His perfect life could be used to remove death for all of Adam’s children.—1 Corinthians 15:21, 22.
12. Why did Jesus have to suffer so much?
12 The Bible describes how much Jesus suffered before he died. He was cruelly whipped, nailed to a torture stake, and made to endure a slow and painful death. (John 19:1, 16-18, 30) Why did Jesus have to suffer so much? Because Satan claimed that no human would be loyal to God if he was severely tested. Jesus proved that a perfect man can be loyal to God even if he suffers to the extreme. Imagine how proud Jehovah was of Jesus!—Proverbs 27:11; see Endnote 15.
13. How was the ransom paid?
13 How was the ransom paid? Jesus gave his Father the value of his life. In the year 33, on Nisan 14 of the Jewish calendar, Jehovah allowed Jesus’ enemies to kill him. (Hebrews 10:10) Three days after that, Jehovah brought Jesus back to life, not as a human, but as a spirit person. Later, when Jesus returned to his Father in heaven, he presented the value of his perfect human life to Jehovah as the ransom. (Hebrews 9:24) Now that the ransom has been paid, we have the opportunity to be set free from sin and death.—Read Romans 3:23, 24.
HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT FROM THE RANSOM
14, 15. What must we do for our sins to be forgiven?
14 We already benefit from God’s greatest gift. Let us see how we benefit now and how we will benefit in the future.
15 Our sins are forgiven. It is hard to do what is right all the time. We make mistakes, and we sometimes say and do the wrong thing. (Colossians 1:13, 14) How can we be forgiven? We should be truly sorry for what we have done wrong and humbly ask Jehovah to forgive us. We can then have the confidence that our sins are forgiven.—1 John 1:8, 9.
16. What must we do to have a good conscience?
16 We can have a good conscience. If our conscience tells us that we have done something wrong, we feel guilty, maybe even hopeless and worthless. But there is no need to give up. If we beg Jehovah for forgiveness, we can be sure that he will listen to us and forgive us. (Hebrews 9:13, 14) Jehovah wants us to talk to him about any of our problems and weaknesses. (Hebrews 4:14-16) As a result, we can be at peace with God.
17. What blessings are possible because Jesus died for us?
17 We have the hope of living forever. “The wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Because Jesus died for us, we can live forever and enjoy perfect health. (Revelation 21:3, 4) But what must we do to receive those blessings?
WILL YOU ACCEPT THE RANSOM?
18. How do we know that Jehovah loves us?
18 Think of how your heart is touched when someone gives you a beautiful gift. The ransom is the most precious gift of all, and we should be deeply grateful to Jehovah for it. John 3:16 tells us that “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son.” Yes, Jehovah loves us so much that he gave us his precious Son, Jesus. And we know that Jesus also loves us, because he was willing to die for us. (John 15:13) The gift of the ransom should convince you that Jehovah and Jesus really love you.—Galatians 2:20.
19, 20. (a) How can you become Jehovah’s friend? (b) How can you show that you accept Jesus’ ransom sacrifice?
19 Now that you’ve learned about God’s great love, how can you become his friend? It is not easy to love someone you don’t know. John 17:3 says that we can come to know Jehovah. As you do this, your love for him will deepen, you will want to please him, and you will become his friend. So keep learning about Jehovah by studying the Bible.—1 John 5:3.
20 Accept Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. The Bible says that “the one who exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life.” (John 3:36) What does it mean to exercise faith? It means to do what Jesus taught us to do. (John 13:15) We cannot simply say that we believe in Jesus. To accept the ransom, we must do something about our faith. At James 2:26, we read: “Faith without works is dead.”
21, 22. (a) Why should we attend the Memorial of Christ’s death each year? (b) What will be discussed in Chapters 6 and 7?
21 Attend the Memorial of Christ’s death. The evening before Jesus died, he taught us that we should have a memorial of his death. We do this each year, and it is called the Memorial or “the Lord’s Evening Meal.” (1 Corinthians 11:20; Matthew 26:26-28) Jesus wants us to remember that he gave his perfect life as a ransom for us. He said: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Read Luke 22:19.) When you attend the Memorial, you show that you remember the ransom and the great love that Jehovah and Jesus have for us.—See Endnote 16.
22 The ransom is the greatest gift we could ever receive. (2 Corinthians 9:14, 15) That precious gift will even benefit millions of people who have already died. Chapters 6 and 7 will discuss how that is possible.