The theme that repeats itself in this music and narration are the words “there is a redeemer.” Although we hear these words frequently, I wonder if we really know the wonder of what they mean? This morning, I would like to take a few minutes to think about what it means that Jesus is our redeemer.
The idea of a redeemer comes out of the Old Testament. We read about it in Leviticus 25:25 where it says, “If one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is to come and redeem what his countryman has sold.” The system of caring for the poor was quite different than today. When the Israelites entered into the promised land, everyone was given a piece of land. Of course, as we know, things happen and one person is a better manager, or a hail storm comes on one person’s crops and not another, or all those who are able to do farm work die and the family is not able to crop the land. What would happen? The verse indicates that what you would do would be to sell some of the land so that you could survive. However, because the land was a gift from God, it was very important for them to hold on to the land. This verse talks about what should happen. A close relative would buy back, or redeem the land so that the poor person could continue to live and so that the land would remain in the family. One of the Old Testament stories which illustrates how this happened is the story of Ruth. Naomi was a Jewish lady who, with her husband and two sons, went to another country to live during a famine. In that country, her two sons married women who were from that country, one of whom was Ruth. Eventually, Naomi’s husband and her two sons died and Naomi was a widow with two widowed daughter-in-laws. As the story goes, Naomi and Ruth, go back to Israel. They are poor, but still are entitled to the land which would have been Naomi’s husband’s land. Boaz, who is a relative becomes the redeemer who buys the land and marries Ruth. Boaz is the redeemer who pays the price to help out Naomi and Ruth who are in trouble.
This background reveals three elements that help us understand the concept of redeemer. First, there is a need which a person has in which they cannot help themselves. Secondly, there is the price of redemption, which is the cost of buying the land of the person in need and thirdly, there is the person who pays this price who is the redeemer.
This morning, we have been singing about Jesus as the redeemer. The same three elements which were true in the Old Testament story of redemption are true in the story of Jesus as our redeemer.
When we talk about Jesus as our redeemer, we begin with the reality of our desperate need. We are poor and needy. We have dug ourselves into a deep hole because of our sin and we need help because we are doomed to eternal death.
Have you recognized your need for redemption? Are there sins you can’t shake? Guilt you can’t get rid of? Fears that immobilize you?
Titus 2:14 says, “(Jesus) gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness...” This verse gives expression to the desperation which we find ourselves in. It is “from all wickedness” that Jesus has redeemed us. We were sold into slavery to sin and were in bondage to sin and to death.
The second part of redemption is the cost of redemption. Redemption involves a price and in the case of Jesus, the price was very high. In Galatians 3:13 we read, “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.” What a terrible price Jesus paid. He became a curse for us. He paid the price of our redemption with his very own life.
It was no accident that Jesus died on the cross. He came for this very purpose and because he was totally innocent and had done nothing wrong He did not deserve to die. Therefore, when he died, he died in our place to pay the price to buy us back from slavery to sin and bondage.
Because God accepted the price of our redemption from Jesus, He rose again from the dead and we are guaranteed that the price is paid and we have freedom from sin and death. How thankful we can be that the price has been paid.
The third element in the story of redemption is the individual who pays the price. Jesus is the redeemer, the one who has bought us back from sin and death.
Why would someone be a redeemer. When it is a close relative as it often was in the Old Testament, we can consider it some kind of a family obligation to be a redeemer. What moved Jesus to offer to be the redeemer? It was His love for us that moved Him.
In Galatians 4:4,5 we read, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
How grateful we should be to Jesus that He is our redeemer.
I recently read a book written by Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of Billy Graham entitled “Prodigals and those who love them.” She tells the story of her grandson Tullian, who is the son of her oldest daughter Gigi Graham. Tullian was a prodigal who got to the point where he needed help and came to Jesus to find Him as His redeemer. He tells a part of his own story:
Everywhere you look, people are looking for something more, something they don't already have. This is most obvious in the life of a child. "More, more, give me more" is probably the most oft stated phrase that proceeds from a child's mouth. It's especially fun watching little ones at Christmastime. They stare at the presents under the tree for weeks until they are given the much anticipated "O.K." on Christmas morning. They rip open present after present; they don't even allow themselves the pleasure of enjoying one at a time. Then, to their inevitable horror, the last present has been opened and they cry at the realization that it's over. Christmas is over! What they really want is more, The anticipation that built up for weeks prior to Christmas seemed to promise their little hearts and minds more satisfaction than Christmas presents could provide, It's been said that the loneliest moment in life is when you have just accomplished what you thought would deliver the ultimate and it has let you down, but do we really grow out of this as we get older? It's obvious that we don't. We want to be faster, stronger, skinnier, wealthier. We want more power, more freedom, more stability, more flexibility. In short, the human race is made up of people who are crying out for more!
At sixteen I too was crying out for more, perhaps louder than most, The middle of seven children born to solid Christian parents, I was raised in an atmosphere where prayer and Bible reading were encouraged and practiced. I knew who God was, and I knew that He sent His Son to die on a cross for sinners. But I wanted more. I wanted to be distinct, to be heard. After all, in such a large family attention and distinctiveness are hard to come by. So instead of "casting all of my anxiety on Him," I turned to the world. I dropped out of high school, got kicked out of my house, and began living in a manner that I thought would satisfy. I craved freedom. But it wasn't until six years later that I began to realize my so-called freedom had made me a slave. A slave to desires and habits that were quickly destroying me. I had been seeking satisfaction so vigorously, that I was unconscious of just how unsatisfied I was becoming. I was hungrier at twenty-one than I had been at sixteen. The world had lied to me. Power, pleasure, and popularity had not satisfied the way I had anticipated. I was empty, and I was lonely. (He was in need of a redeemer and knew it) So at twenty-one I did what I should have done at sixteen. I turned to God. I was broken and desperately needed fixing; who better to turn to than my own personal Creator and Designer?
I was alone at my apartment in Deerfield Beach, Florida, when I got on my knees and asked God's forgiveness. I begged Him to change me. I rededicated my life to Christ that night and made a public confession a few weeks later when I responded to an invitation given at our Sunday morning church service. Unaware of my prayer a few weeks prior, my entire family watched in thanksgiving that Sunday as I grabbed my girlfriend by the hand and walked from the balcony all the way to the front of the church.
At 21 years old, Tullian experienced the grace of the redeemer whose death on the cross had paid for his sins.
Today as we celebrate the resurrection, we celebrate the wonderful truth and power of having Jesus as our redeemer. Jesus is not merely a figure of history, but the risen and living redeemer of all who will come to Him. If you are in need and have not yet come to the redeemer, I invite you to hand your life over to the one who died and rose again. If you have known the redeemer for many years, I invite you to rejoice that Jesus is the living one, the redeemer of all who have faith in Him.
The day is coming when we will all rejoice in a great celebration because there is a redeemer. Revelation 5:9 tells us about that day of celebration, “And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you redeemed men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
Let us conclude the service in celebration as the choir gives glory to God because there is a redeemer.