Farmville Enterprise March 13, 2019
God redeeming people from every tribe and nation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ always has been God’s plan in light of his covenant faithfulness. The Bible is the epic story of redemption for humankind. Every part of Scripture fits together and points us to the love of God as revealed in Christ. Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of Israel’s messianic hope. Throughout the ages God has acted through covenants with his people. All history is redemptive history.
The metaphor of redemption finds its context in the social, legal, and religious customs of the ancient world, and includes the ideas of loosing from a bond, setting free from captivity or slavery, buying back something lost or sold, ransoming, paying off a debt, or exchanging something in one’s possession for something possessed by another.
In the Old Testament, redemption involves deliverance from bondage based on the payment of a price by a redeemer. “This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6) “Our Redeemer -the Lord Almighty is his name- is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 47:4) “This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17)
The word Redeemer is found only in the Old Testament but the theme of redemption is a central concept in the New Testament as well. It is possible that Jesus was not called this in the New Testament because of the nationalistic expectation of the long-awaited Messiah-Redeemer who would be a strong political figure and conquering hero. Instead, Jesus came spending time with “sinners,” healing the sick, ministering to the poor and washing the feet of his rag-tag band of disciples.
Only the atoning death of Jesus Christ could liberate humankind from captivity to sin. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” (Galatians 3:13-14) ”In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:7-8a)
In a few weeks on Easter Sunday many of us will sing the lyrics of Charles Wesley from “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” “Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia. Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia! Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!”