Sometimes the news reports shock us with striking gospel parallels out of nowhere. Yesterday's news carried such an impact, detailing how Judith Tebbutt is preparing to come home after a six month kidnap ordeal from a remote Kenyan beach resort. Taken by Somalian pirates and held with her husband, Mrs Tebbutt is now facing up to a return to normal life - if this will ever be possible for her.
During the kidnap process, her husband David was shot dead by the Pirates. Along with the immense grief and sense of loss, she is also reported to have paid an £800,000 ransom, plus a further £20,000 'accomodation costs' to the Pirates. When the ransom money was dropped by plane earlier this week, her release was confirmed.
It is hard to imagine how someone can adjust to freedom and normality after such an ordeal, especially when it has been at such great cost, emotionally, physically, financially.
Deep in this awful story we find the seeds of hope from a greater story-One that we have all been written into. The great narrative of the bible teaches us that we have all been held in captivity, kept far from the home we were made for by a powerful enemy. Our enemy is no modern day Pirate, rather the hostile slave master that we call sin. An internal enemy, set upon us by one who has complete mastery over us all.Here there is no way of escape, no future hope, no amount of ransom money that would be sufficient.
The tragic true story of the Tebbutts is a microcosm of this greater story. Their loss was great, her ability to continue living in freedom without slavery to bitterness will be remarkable on a human level. In our greater narrative though, we find an even greater loss, a greater cost, a higher ransom paid for our freedom.
Into our captivity a greater 'David Tebbutt' emerges, who is willing to lay down his life for all of us. In this parallel story, a ransom for many is paid. We are bought with a price, we are rescued, set free into a new life, free from fear or bitterness, running home to the Father's house we were made for. Who is this rescue hero? Who is this stranger who resonates even in an awful modern news story? Who is our ransom from the life we are trapped in?
Matthew's gospel points him out from the crowd - Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, the one to whom all the courageous David Tebbutts of this world lead us. 'He came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many'