According to Christian theology, Jesus paid the price for our sins. In the spirit of Freakonomics, then, we might be inclined to ask: how much does it cost to redeem a sinner?
In the Old Testament there is the notion that a certain amount of sheep or other animal blood can wipe away a given sin. In fact the rules are pretty specific. Apparently there aren't enough sheep around to permanently wipe out the sins for one person or at least the absence of this formula in the OT would lead us to this conclusion. But Jesus comes along and his blood is enough to cover the whole of humanity (or at least the predestined few - depending on who you are talking to).
Mathematically then we have the following equation:
souls * cost_per_soul = total_price
- souls is the number of people who are going to get into heaven
- cost_per_soul is how many sacrifice units are required per soul (generally measured in blood volume)
total_price can be further broken down as:
total_price = blood_volume * coefficient_of_atonement
Clearly sheep have a pretty small coefficient_of_atonement, whereas Jesus has a very large one. We assume it can't be infinite since if it was then he would have only had to shed, let's say, 1 drop of blood and suffered for less than a second and would have easily accounted for all souls for all time.
Now the problem is that we have too many unknowns in:
souls * cost_per_soul = blood_volume * coefficient_of_atonement
We don't know how many souls have or will be redeemed. But still we have the take home message here that every moment Jesus was on the cross he was loosing blood and saving more souls. I can't help wonder if this makes Jesus like Schindler in "Schindler's List". If he had been able to loose more blood he could have saved more souls. Does Jesus regret not spending more time or suffering more so that more could have been saved?
Of course we also need to consider that compared to someone dying of cancer or someone living in a torture camp he really didn't suffer that much. One day of pain with the foreknowledge that you will rise again and rule in heaven is not such a big price. I think a lot of people would be willing to pay that one time price for an infinite reward like that. I for one would be willing to give it a shot. And this considering that I'm allergic to thorny crowns.