1 Peter 1:18-21
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Once we were slaves. Now we are redeemed!
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers. . .” (I Peter 1:18)
Who is it that needs to be redeemed? Someone who is enslaved. You and I are born as slaves to sin. Psalm 51:5 says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” The sin nature was passed on to all who are born because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. We are born into the slavery of sin. Romans 3:23 tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 goes on to tell us blatantly, “The wages of sin is death!” We are born enslaved. We are born into a disturbing reality. Sin demands a ransom, a payment that we can’t pay ourselves. We are born in debt to the sin that binds us and we can’t pay our debt on our own. So, freedom only comes through redemption.
A missionary in West Africa was trying to convey the meaning of the word redeem in the Bambara language. So he asked his African assistant to express it in his native tongue. “We say,” the assistant replied, “that God took our heads out.” “But how does that explain redemption?” the perplexed missionary asked. The man told him that many years ago some of his ancestors had been captured by slave-traders, chained together, and driven to the seacoast. Each of the prisoners had a heavy iron collar around his neck. As the slaves passed through a village, a chief might notice a friend of his among the captives and offer to pay the slave-traders in gold, ivory, silver, or brass. The prisoner would be redeemed by the payment. His head then would be taken out of his iron collar. What an unusual and graphic illustration of the word redeem! Let Him take your head out of the enslaving collar of sin and set you free.
Christ was lifted up on the cross
that we might be lifted out of our sin.
Everyone who is redeemed must be redeemed by a redeemer. Let me talk about the role of the Redeemer for a few minutes.
In the book of Ruth we read about the role of the redeemer or as the book of Ruth calls it, the “Kinsman Redeemer.” Throughout Israel’s history people would need to be redeemed from time to time. Perhaps they fell into slavery because of going into debt or for some reason they would lose all of their possessions. One woman, named Naomi, lost everything she possessed because her husband and two sons died. They had lived in Bethlehem and had moved to Moab. Thinking going back to Bethlehem with nothing was better than staying in Moab with nothing, Naomi packed up and headed back to Bethlehem and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, went were her. Naomi’s hope all along was that a Kinsman Redeemer would buy back their family’s land in Bethlehem for them. Ruth went out to a field to pick up leftover grain behind the harvesters as poor people and foreigners were allowed to do.
Providentially, the owner of the field was a man named Boaz who happened to see Ruth at work. Boaz happened to be related to Namoi’s husband that had died. He could be the Kinsman Redeemer for the family, the one to buy back the family land, take them out of poverty and back to a position of prosperity!
In order to qualify to be a Kinsman Redeemer, you had to meet four qualifications:
- You had to be kin somehow. There had to be a blood relationship!
- You had to be free yourself. Slaves or people in debt themselves couldn’t purchase someone else out of slavery.
- You had to be able to pay the price. Whatever the price was, you had to be able to pay it.
- You had to be willing to pay the price. Just because someone could accomplish the work of redemption doesn’t mean he would. There had to be a willingness to sacrifice whatever was necessary to purchase the person. I am sure there were many slaves who had a family member who could do what was necessary but chose not to because they weren’t willing to pay the price and spend their resources to free someone else.
Well, as it turns out, Boaz wasn’t first in line for the Kinsman Redeemer position because there was a relative even closer to the family than he. The closest person got the first opportunity to redeem someone. The first in line person, when he found out that the deal involved more than land and came with taking Ruth as a wife and being not only responsible for the family’s property but the family’s posterity as well, well. . . he wasn’t interested. He didn’t want to take Ruth on as a project. He didn’t want to “pay the price,” so Boaz was up to bat.
Boaz became the Kinsman Redeemer and he and Ruth got married and though Ruth was a Moabite woman, she came into the family and that family line eventually produced David and ultimately Jesus; all because Boaz was willing to take on the debt and responsibility for Ruth and her family. How her life changed because someone took her on. Someone took her out of the impoverished situation she was in and gave her a new way of life.
You and I have a Kinsman Redeemer. His name is Jesus! He met all four qualifications. First, He became kin to us as is seen in Hebrews 2:14-15 “14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Jesus became related to us in that since we were humans, He also took on flesh and blood and became “one of us.” Jesus didn’t owe a debt to anyone. He wasn’t born into the world with a sin nature because He was conceived of the Holy Spirit. He was without. Because of His perfection, He was eligible to pay the price for the sins of humanity. Peter tells us we are redeemed with the “precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
Early in the Scriptures, we see the doctrine of salvation introduced.
-It was revealed in chapter 3 when God killed animals and through the sacrifice of the animal blood, He clothed Adam and Eve following their sin.
-In Genesis 22:13 a ram was caught in the thicket and Abraham did not sacrifice Isaac, his son, but a lamb instead.
-The Passover lamb was slain for each Jewish household in Exodus 12 when they escaped Egyptian slavery.
-Isaiah 53 written hundreds of years before Christ’s birth, painted the picture of the Messiah being a spotless Lamb.
-Isaac asked that question of his father Abraham, “Where is the lamb for the sacrifice” when they were on their way up to Mount Moriah to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and that question rang in the hearts and minds of people who sought God for centuries until it was answered by John the Baptist when he pointed to his cousin Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29)
-And listen, the Lamb of God is still being celebrated throughout the corridors of heaven as the redeemed in heaven join with the angels to sing “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” . . . “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:12-13)
He was the only One qualified to redeem us. He was the only One worthy to redeem us, and praise God He was willing to do it!
Jesus didn’t look at one person, past, present or future and say, “They owe too much.” “They are too big of a project to take on.” No, He willingly became sin for us even though He was without sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” He willingly took the punishment for our sin even though He deserved no punishment. “The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,” Isaiah 53:5.
Can you imagine the conversation in heaven between the Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus? “Son, we have a big problem. The people we love are doomed for destruction and are unable to do anything about it. The only hope they have is if You lay aside Your heavenly splendor and empty yourself. If You become nothing and take the nature of a servant in human flesh, live a sinless, perfect life and then willingly be sacrificed through torture and death on a cross Your blood sacrifice will pay the debt they all can’t pay,” to which Jesus replies, “When do I l get started?”
Seriously? The Bible says, “Though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (II Cor. 8:9) How many of you in this room would willingly become poor so that someone else could become rich? I know, right? And yet that is what Jesus did! “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) God became man in order to redeem us.
None of us has ever gone out of our way like that for someone else. None of us have ever conceived of doing something so extreme. The price Jesus paid was incredible. “Jesus paid it all! All to Him I owe! Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow!” Why wouldn’t we want to accept what Jesus did on our behalf? Why wouldn’t we want to have God as our Father? Who else could love or care for us like He has demonstrated He is willing to do? “No one ever cared for me like Jesus!”
Leslie B. Flynn told a story that illustrates this truth. An orphaned boy was living with his grandmother when their house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to get upstairs to rescue the boy, perished in the flames. The boy’s cries for help were finally answered by a man who climbed an iron drainpipe and came back down with the boy hanging tightly to his neck.
Several weeks later, a public hearing was held to determine who would receive custody of the child. A farmer, a teacher, and the town’s wealthiest citizen all gave the reasons they felt they should be chosen to give the boy a home. But as they talked, the lad’s eyes remained focused on the floor. Then a stranger walked to the front and slowly took his hands from his pockets, revealing severe scars on them. As the crowd gasped, the boy cried out in recognition. This was the man who had saved his life. His hands had been burned when he climbed the hot pipe. With a leap the boy threw his arms around the man’s neck and held on for dear life. The other men silently walked away, leaving the boy and his rescuer alone. Those marred hands had settled the issue. (http://bible.org/illustration/1-peter-118-19)
I know where I want to be! I want to be in the embrace of the nail-pierced hands of Jesus because He has redeemed me! We were slaves to sin, sentenced to spiritual death and eternal separation from God. But now we have been redeemed. We have been redeemed from the bondage of sin and redeemed from the obligation or payment of sin and I Peter tells us we have also been redeemed from a futile, dead-end way of living. Listen to the second part of verse 18 again:
“ . . . you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers.” Life without Jesus is a dead-end. It is a life without hope. It is a life without power. It is a life without peace. It is life without purpose. It is a drifting, unproductive life without an anchor. But the redeemed have been saved from a meaningless existence. We have been given value. We have been loved in such a way that our guilt and shame have been removed from us, our past has no power over us and our future is secure!
Isaiah 43:1-3 “1But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
Without redemption, you have no hope. The flood waters of life will take you down. The heat and stress of daily life and difficult circumstances will destroy you, but not so for the Redeemed Children of God! We will be protected. We will be provided for. We have a hope beyond what can be seen and experience in this life, and we will overcome because our Redeemer happens to be the LORD, God, the Holy One of Israel! HE is our Savior!
Tom carried his new boat to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string. How smoothly the boat sailed! Tom sat in the warm sunshine, admiring the little boat that he had built. Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Tom tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. The little boat raced downstream.
Tom ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could. But his little boat soon slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for the boat. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tom sadly went home.
A few days later, on the way home from school, Tom spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see — sure enough — it was his!
Tom hurried to the store manager: “Sir, that’s my boat in your window! I made it!” “Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you’ll have to buy it for one dollar.”
Tom ran home and counted all his money. Exactly one dollar! When he reached the store, he rushed to the counter. “Here’s the money for my boat.” As he left the store, Tom hugged his boat and said, “Now you’re twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you.” Good News Publishers, Westchester, IL. (http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/r/redemption.htm)
Can you hear God speaking to you this morning? “Fear not. I made you and I bought you!” You are MINE!
And listen to this: The price for your redemption wasn’t a one-time payment of silver or gold that will be sufficient one day and not enough the next day, but the payment for your redemption was the PRECIOUS BLOOD of Jesus! It is a one-time and forever payment that not only redeemed you, but it will cleanse and forgive you, empower you, and keep you until the very end of this age and beyond when you are standing face to face with your Redeemer!
We are told in Hebrews 9:22 that “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.” Sin has to be punished. That is the way it is, and because of God’s great love for you, even while you were a sinner, Christ died for you!” (Romans 5:8) Because of Christ’s blood you are not only free from slavery, but you are made right with God through the forgiveness of your sin.
The blood of Christ we are told in John 1:7 cleanses us from all sin! You see, sin has a defiling effect upon sinners. There is a guilty stain. There is a cloud of condemnation. There is a burden, a weight, a heaviness that comes upon us because of sin, but through the blood of Jesus it is all washed away, and we stand justified before God. That is, we stand before Him “just as if we never sinned!” Isaiah 1:18 says, “Though your sins be as scarlet they will be as white as snow!” We aren’t only redeemed, but we are cleaned up!
Our passage in I Peter makes it clear that the shedding of Christ’s blood wasn’t an accident, but a Divine appointment. God’s plan from the beginning was to establish that the payment of sin was a blood sacrifice. The giving of the Law and the sacrificial system wasn’t plan “A” and Jesus was plan “B” if plan “A” didn’t work out. Plan “A” was never supposed to work out. It was never supposed to be through works righteousness that we were made right with God, but it was always supposed to be the gift of God through the grace of God exhibited in Jesus, the Son of God.
The law and the sacrificial system were to ready people to receive Christ as the payment for all sin. They were supposed to be sick and tired of having to deal with the bloody mess of sacrifice. They were supposed to see how it wasn’t something without that could cleanse temporarily, but that it would have to be something permanent from within that could take away their guilt forever. We are told in Rev. 13:8 that Jesus was the “Lamb of God slain from the creation of the world.” Or as our text in I Peter 1:18 puts it, “He was chosen before the creation of the world” to be the sacrifice. We may look at the events of Jesus’ death and think He was cruelly murdered. Not so. He willingly laid His life down for every sinner (John 10:17-18).
I wonder what would have happened to Ruth if Boaz had fought to redeem her only to have her decide she didn’t want to be redeemed. She would have lived a life of poverty in isolation, obscurity, without meaning and purpose. Boaz took Ruth, but she had a choice to make. She had to take him as well. She had to want to be redeemed. She had to want to live her life with him. She had to see that life with Boaz would be better than life on her own.
I ask myself:
“Why wouldn’t anyone willingly want to be redeemed?”
“Who wouldn’t want the yoke of slavery to sin destroyed in their life?”
“Who wouldn’t want to be cleansed of sin forever?”
“Who wouldn’t want complete and free access to God who can empower them to daily live above sin and their circumstances?”
“Who wouldn’t want to have peace about their future and all eternity?”
“Who wouldn’t want to make that trip to heaven and spend eternity with the One who died for them?”
John had a vision of heaven which he wrote down. We read in Revelation 7:13-17 about those who have been redeemed: 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes–who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. 16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
I can’t wait for that day. That’s my future. Once I was a slave. Now I am redeemed. What about you?