We don’t use the word “redeem” much anymore in today’s society. Maybe you’ve heard it in terms of redeeming coupons or redeeming a winning raffle ticket – giving something to receive something good back in return. The dictionary gives us a better idea of what the word means when it defines it as “to buy back” (such as after a tax sale or mortgage foreclosure) or “to recover by payment or other satisfaction” (such as redeeming a pawned watch.)
In church, we use “redeemed” a lot – Christ redeemed us sinners. But what does that mean?
God actually gave us a picture of what that means way back in the Old Testament law. Under Jewish law as set out in Leviticus 25:25-55, if a person became poor and sold some of his land, his nearest relative was to come and buy it back or redeem it. Also, the man who sold it, if he became wealthy enough in the coming years, could redeem it himself. Even more striking, Israelites who were unable to pay their obligations could sell themselves into servitude to other Israelites or even to foreigners living among them. Even in those situations, one of his relatives could redeem him: An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in his clan.
That is the picture of what Christ did for us. We were held captive by sin – worthless. When He died on the cross, His blood paid the price that was owed for our sin and we were redeemed. And there is even more – from worthless slaves, we are made heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ! I have heard story after story of people who were addicts or in desperate situations or hopeless and then Christ met them where they were and they were transformed. Their situations may not have changed instantaneously, but they now had hope and value.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. Ephesians 1:7
One of the most popular Christian songs in the past couple of years conveys this truth. I especially love the bridge: “I don’t have to be the old man inside of me ’cause his day is long dead and gone. I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same, and a hope that will carry me home. I am redeemed.” Listen to “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave:
When Christ poured out His blood on the cross, the price was paid to purchase us back from the one who held us captive … to whom we were indebted … the one who thought and claimed that he owned us. But God is our true Owner, and He has paid the price to purchase us back, to forever be His possession.