When I was growing up in rural Iowa, I collected bottles. Not fancy bottles, but empty pop bottles. I would fill a few brown paper sacks with dirty, sticky, germ-laden bottles and take them to the redemption center in town where I would be paid a nickel for each one. I never got rich, but I always made enough for a bag of candy or something fun from Woolworths. Having been brought up in a local church, I always thought Boone County Redemption Center was an odd name for a place that collected dirty, used pop bottles.
The Bible is the story of true redemption. Simply put, redemption means “to buy back.” Man chose to break relationship with God and go his own way, and God so loved man He chose to offer reconciliation. The only thing stopping the reunion was the debt incurred by man’s sin and its effect upon the entire creation.
In the Bible, the person paying someone else’s debt is called a “redeemer.” The redeemer is, in fact, “buying back” something that had been taken or lost from its rightful place. In some cases, he was redeeming the debtor from an offended party. The Book of Ruth contains a perfect example of redemption. It is a love story of Ruth and Boaz. Boaz was willing to buy back the property of Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, in order to marry Ruth and have a son to continue the family bloodline.
The concept of redemption was well understood in Old Testament. Job said, “For I know my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last upon the earth.” Job 19:25. David declared, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord my strength and Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14. Isaiah said, “As for our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is His Name, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 47:4. These verses and many others all speak of our God as the one willing to pay the incredible price to redeem us.
The payment for a debt was called the “ransom.” Once the ransom was paid, the offended party was said to be propitiated, his anger now appeased. But our broken covenant with God would have to be satisfied according to the terms of the original agreement. The blood covenant requires the offending party pay with his life. Because of this, the ransom could only be paid by the life of the offender or someone willing to take his place. That “someone else” could not owe a debt himself — which was the issue — because every human on the planet was guilty. Everyone stood in need of a redeemer, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6. There was no one to take your place or my place. That’s why God seems so distant to so many still to this day. Why so many are so unhappy. That’s why so many try and self-medicate day after day, year after year. That’s why our world is such a mess.
But God stepped forward and offered to be the Redeemer by way of substitution. Through His only begotten Son Jesus Christ the debt could be satisfied once and for all. “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in all things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17. Jesus became your substitute, and mine.
When the time was just right, God sent His own Son to end our indebtedness forever. “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:19-20.
Now, back to “redemption.” The Greek word for “redemption” is “lutrosis,” which means “to release on receipt of ransom, to redeem or liberate completely by payment of a ransom.” Before Jesus paid our ransom, God allowed for sin to be “hidden” from His sight by the shedding of innocent, spotless animal blood. Only blood can atone for sin.
While animal blood only “covered” or “shielded” a person’s sin from God’s anger, there needed to be something permanent. Something that could address the constant, nagging voice reminding men and women of their sins. If there is a truth that every Christian needs to grasp, receive, and believe every single day, it’s that with Christ’s offering, sin was dealt with completely, once and for all, and the penalty cancelled along with all the guilt and shame. So why is it so many still suffer tormenting fear day after day, fearing they might somehow lose that acceptance, their redemption, by sinning willfully or even unknowingly?
After His death, Jesus’s resurrected life instilled new life into every soul who believed and has received Him as their Savior. Paul preached, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5.
Religions stress following strict rules as a means of attaining and maintaining salvation. That is impossible. Hebrews states we have been saved and sanctified through the offering of the Body of Christ Jesus once and for all. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 10:16-17.
Do you comprehend the breadth, the width, the height, and depth of God’s love for you? Or do you allow nagging lies to torment you? Lies that whisper, “When you stand before God, He’s going to say you missed the mark. You didn’t do enough.” Or do you understand what redemption really means? Why did God send His Son to suffer as He did? Because God loved you! He loved you before the foundation of the world. The Bible tells us if Satan had known, he never would have crucified the Son of God. Jesus tells us we are worth more to Him than anything upon earth. God had His own “Redemption Center,” and it included the cross and the empty tomb.
As you continue ahead today, this week, and in the months to come, I’d like to challenge you to do a study on redemption, and on your Redeemer, the lover of your soul and your Father for eternity. His love for you is non-negotiable. It is not performance based, nor are you “graded on a curve” in comparison to other Christians. His love for you is perfect, and it cannot be taken away. I realize I have spent many weeks studying real love, God’s love for you. I can’t help but believe it is because our Redeemer longs for us to be fully persuaded, with no doubts, that we will never be separated from His care, protection, and love. The peace and assurance you receive will provide you, as it did for Paul, with the courage, power, and faith to face every single trial you will encounter in your future. You have tremendous value. You may have been used, abused, or discarded in your past. You may feel as if your best days are behind you. But your Redeemer bought you back.
You have been lifted out of darkness and you’ve been seated in Heavenly places with Christ. Lift up your head my friend. You’ve been restored with a purpose! Dream big. What is your dream? Remember, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
Ruminate on that.