“The word redemption means ‘to purchase.’ When Jesus died for our sins, He paid the price that satisfied the demands of God’s holiness. The price of this redemption was the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1: 18-19)” [Elmer Towns, Bible Answers for Almost all Your Questions].
That’s Christianity 101 isn’t it?
If propitiation in the previous post was hard to understand, surely redemption is much easier. Nevertheless, John Stott feels redemption is the second word that explains the role the cross has in the salvation of mankind.
Redemption is not a concept that was uncommon in Old Testament times. There were laws for how property had to be handled as well as animals. Property should not be removed from family ownership. “Kinsmen redeemers” could purchase land back for a family if hardship allowed it to go to public sale [e.g. Boaz in the Book of Ruth]. Firstborn male livestock belonged to Yahweh but animals could be bought back if the owner had the money. They could be redeemed.
But what about man?
It sounds strange for us to say that we need to be redeemed like property or animals, but it is all about our problem with sin. Stott writes that the “human plight from which we cannot extricate ourselves and which makes it necessary for us to be redeemed is … our transgressions or sins. The Old Testament gave man The Law but in the New Testament, The Law is seen more as a curse than a blessing. New Testament writers in Galatians, and 1 Peter refer to The Law as an “empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers” [3:13 and 1: 18]. Man was held captive in the prison of Divine judgement with no way to get out.
The New Testament leaves no doubt that the price that was paid for our freedom from sin was Jesus Christ. He is the ransom that was paid. He came to earth to show us a new way to live; that was God’s only way to help us to understand a holy way to live. His use of The Law and Divine judgement put man in an endless cycle of man’s sinning, God’s judgement, man’s repenting, man’s receiving forgiveness and man sinning again. There was no way to break out of this cycle, until Jesus Christ.
Stott speaks of the costly price that Jesus had to pay and the Bible’s use of the imagery of blood. “It was not with perishable things such as silver and gold, that you were redeemed,….but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” [1 Peter, 1: 18-19]. Stott points to the writer of Hebrews who used so much sacrificial imagery, emphasizing that Christ was “victim as well as priest.” “He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood” [Hebrews 9: 12]. Many would say that the use of blood signifies death but instead, it might refer to the use of the word blood in the Old Testament. One can turn to Leviticus and see passages that refer to the “life of a creature is in the blood” or the “life of every creature is its blood.” Deuteronomy 12: 23 states that “the blood is the life.”
Stott writes “Blood shed stands, therefore, not for the release of life from the burden of the flesh, but for the bringing of an end of life in the flesh. It is a witness to physical death, not an evidence of spiritual survival.” When we take Holy Communion and drink “Christ’s blood” we appropriate the benefits of His life laid down for us. We benefit from His redemptive efforts. Jesus did something for us that we could not do for ourselves. He sacrificed Himself for human sin. For the first time, sinners had hope and they felt they could have fellowship with The Holy Father. The burden of Divine Judgement was lifted.
The last emphasis in understanding redemption is the idea that man was ransomed. As in Old Testament Law, the redeemer of the property or animals had proprietary rights over his purchase. In essence, Jesus had “lordship” over both Church and Christians because he bought us with His blood. How does this fit in the big picture of life? This should motivate us to live holier lives.
I am reminded of key verses in First Corinthians that say “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” When Paul admonishes us to flee from sexual immorality, he is basing his plea on the doctrine of the human body and who owns it—God and Jesus Christ. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Our body has not only been created by God and God’s spirit dwells within it, but we have been bought by Christ’s blood. We all know what it is to be a slave to sin. We all sin and we know that sin drives a wedge between us and God. Stott writes we have been “bought by Christ, we have no business to become the slaves of anybody or anything else.”
Redemption has allowed us freedom, true freedom.
We can cast off the shackles of sin for we are now slaves of Christ. He has come to destroy the power that sin has over us.
The Lamb of God, the Lamb without blemish. “The Lamb of God who lifts up and carries away the sin of the world” [John 1: 29]. “The redeeming Lamb praised by the multitude because He was slain and by His blood, redeemed unto God’s people of every kindred, tongue and nation” [Revelation 5: 8-14].