Heaven’s Buy Out
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 8:24-25
It is amazing all that was accomplished by his death and resurrection.
Amazing how a singular life could affect so much, so that generations later this world continues to be greatly impacted by a singular life!
All because of the life he lived, the kind of death he died and most importantly of all, the resurrection he experienced on the third day.
It was indeed his death and resurrection that made his life so unique. Not the manner in which he died nor the fact of his resurrection alone but more significantly the meaning, purpose and accomplishments behind both death and resurrection.
Such is what we outlined last Sunday in terms of how in his death he literally became our substitution; that in his death he took on our sins and paid the penalty. Place for place, death for death; Jesus our scapegoat!
What a reason to remember his passing and resurrection!
But now, add into the mix of substitution, the idea of redemption and you have an offer you cannot resist.
Not only is he your substitution and dying in your place but also through his death and resurrection he completely and utterly redeemed you.
More than once the Scriptures say that you have been redeemed. It is a very familiar word in Christian circles, and if you have been around long enough you will no doubt have come across it.
Every time you hear that word in the Scriptures you can assume that it is somehow a connection back to his death and resurrection.
Peter says: “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 ancestors, 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.” I Peter 1:18-19
Did you notice how the scapegoat image comes up again in this passage? Not only was Jesus the Lamb of God without blemish who took our sins into the wilderness of God’s forgetfulness to be remembered no more, but also the blood of this Lamb also redeemed you.
SLAVES THEN, SLAVES NOW!
So what does it mean to be redeemed? His death and resurrection are the currencies for our redemption.
Every time there is a redemption of some sort, it involves currency; we know that from history, and we still see it in some places today.
You ask what it means to be redeemed and I say go ask any former slave what that means. Ask a boy soldier, ask a girl prostitute, ask a kid who is traded around in sweat shops; ask any child slave that’s been set free what it means to be redeemed and you quickly get a pretty good idea.
Prior to Emancipation in the US and the former British colonies, slaves had to be purchased out of slavery and could not just walk away. You couldn’t just open a door or a hatch and off you went. Slaves had to be redeemed, purchased out of slavery.
Even today, with modern day slavery usually involving children, you cannot simply walk in and set them free but instead you need to pay for their freedom, purchase their redemption and redeem them with hard currency. Redemption always involves currency of some sort.
In many cases these are legal chattels or properties owned by someone and to simply open a hatch and release a slave would be akin to theft.
I know how absurd this sounds to us. We are fortunate to be in a free society where autonomy, individuality and self-determination are hallmarks of our way of life.
But there are places even today where there is a cost to freedom. Until slaves were legally set free, they could no more simply walk away from their slave owners as chattel belonging to us today can simply vanish.
Just for the record, slaves were declared free in the former British colonies by an act of British Parliament called the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833 with Emancipation Day celebrated on the first Monday in August (even here in Ontario). In the US it was the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln in 1863 that declared all people there to be free.
Of course, I realize this is Easter Sunday and not Emancipation Day, and this is not about the evils of slavery. But then again maybe this is about our slavery after all and maybe Easter Sunday is our Emancipation Day!
Think about it for a moment.
Doesn’t there exist a type of slavery in the world that is far more profound than anything perpetrated by humanity on humanity? As despicable as human slavery of any sort was and is, there was and is a far more profound slavery that is even more despicable.
How interesting that the Bible positions the human condition in the language of spiritual slavery. The Scripture outlines we were as much a slave as any slave that’s ever been; in fact, our slavery was far, far worse.
For our chains were not the chains of men belonging to a human taskmaster, dictator or tyrant, but instead our chains were the chains of sin.
We were held slave to sin with our wicked taskmaster none other than Satan himself.
Jesus was very clear on this. When told by others in his day, “We’re Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves to anyone”, his only response was: “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” John 8:34.
You need to realize that sin is never just sin, but that behind every act of sin stands Satan who is in fact taskmaster, slave owner and spiritual tyrant; which is why Paul talks about “the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” II Tim. 2:26
Every time you sin it reminds you of the chains; you hear them rattling in the background.
That is what we were. We were slaves to sin, in spiritual bondage, owned by the Devil himself with no choice about it.
Without giving him too much due, you need to realize that Satan is the prince of this world. Twice Jesus refers to him as the prince of this world in John’s Gospel and Paul calls him the god of this age who keeps his slaves blind to the light of the gospel of freedom:
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” II Cor. 4:3-4
This wasn’t always so. Prior to the fall of man, the first couple were the princes over all of creation and destined to absolute greatness, all of which was lost and legally handed over to Satan when they bit into Satan’s sins.
From then on, all princely authority including personal freedom was lost to Satan, who since then has been the prince with humanity as his captive.
When Jesus indicated how Satan would be defeated he called him the prince of this world:
“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” John 12:31-33
So even today, as prince, though defeated, Satan still remains prince and until people turn their chained hearts over to Jesus, the liberator, they remain under his rule.
JESUS OUR LIBERATOR
Which brings me now to Jesus! This is why Jesus came into this world. His singular mission was to release captives and set prisoners free. His manifesto makes this crystal clear:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18, 19
While he went on from there doing precisely that among all those he came across, it wasn’t until his death and resurrection that he offered amnesty and liberty from chains for all on a wholesale basis.
I love the clarity that the book of Hebrews brings to this:
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is
not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.” Heb. 2:14-16
True to his word, upon his death and resurrection spiritual prisoners the world over begin to be released; for all those who turn their chained hearts toward Jesus report the same sense of freedom.
Among them was a man by the name of Saul who, upon his encounter with Jesus, became so incredibly liberated that he even changed his name to Paul. It was Paul who would eventually capture in words the most heartfelt description of what life in slavery was like and what sweet release felt like for him:
“I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Rom. 7:14-20, 24-25, 8:1-2
This has been multiplied millions of times over. Slaves set free, chains of sins falling away, prison doors slammed opened, and slaves streaming out as free beings.
To this day, those who turn to Jesus Christ, raising their captive hands toward him with fettered chains, will experience chains falling away and a life of liberty, freedom and joy!
All of that because of what Jesus accomplished by his death and resurrection. As he himself said that he came: “to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mk. 10:45
CURRENCY OF LIBERATION
As mentioned earlier, the currency of our liberation was not gold nor silver or a modern day currency equivalency but with none other than the precious blood of Jesus:
“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 ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ.”
I Peter 1:18, 19
You ask why not gold and silver? Surely heaven’s gold and silver is not perishable; why his life, why his blood?
Why not calculate the value of a human life in a currency and pay it that way? Why his life? Why did Jesus rebuke Peter’s attempt in stopping him from going to his death as the work of the devil?
The answer lies in the fact that the ransom that frees us can be measured neither in dollars, euros or yens nor with silver and gold.
We cannot be bought out in that sense of the word. There can be no dollar value attached to a human life.
You see, it is life for life, an exchange; back to the idea of substitution, where one takes the place of the other.
The wages of sin is death and no amount of gold nor silver will ever cover that.
So Jesus doesn’t offer a ransom payment; he could only offer himself as the ransom – “his life as a ransom for many”. His life for your life; his life for my life. Does that make sense?
He is your ransom! His death and resurrection is the currency of your freedom!
HE IS RISEN!
His life for our life is only part of the story; his resurrection for our resurrection is the other part.
When he rose on the third day, we knew then and there that he had overcome the weight of the world’s sins upon his shoulders and that, far from sin overwhelming him and casting us back into our own state of misery, he overcame it, all of it, and rose on the third day in great triumph.
I love Paul’s imagery when he wrote: “When he ascended on high he led captives in his train.” Eph. 4:8
Who were these captives if not those through the ages who have given their chained hearts to him which He has set free! You can almost the see the great procession of the freed, the redeemed, former slaves shouting joy and living triumphant lives.
It was actually his resurrection that justified every claim he ever made including the mother-claim of all, namely that he would take our chains upon him and set us free.
“He was delivered over to death for our sins.” (Rom. 4:25) That much we know; but notice what it says next: “and was raised to life for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25)
His resurrection justifies and validates everything. It validates his claim that he has set us free and that we are free indeed; that our chains are fallen off; we are no longer captives to sin!
We have been emancipated. Satan is no longer the prince who rules us. He may rule others but not us. He may be the prince of this world but he is not the prince of this church.
It is no coincidence that this is also the week of Passover, during which our Jewish friends celebrate how their angel of death passed over the homes of all those who had the doorposts of their homes sprinkled with the blood of a Lamb. What amazing symbolism pointing to the mark of the freed homes!
If, on the doorpost of your heart is sprinkled the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, then this word’s angel of death will pass over you!
I am here to tell you that the prince of this world will pass over you, will leave you alone so long as you have applied richly the blood of the Lamb on the doorposts of your heart.
Your ability to do that is directly tied into the reality of the resurrection. Paul said: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins.” I Cor. 15:17
His resurrection sets the captives free, releases the prisoners and makes slave of us no more!
Which is why Romans 10:9 ties being saved from that life directly into the fact of the resurrection: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘ Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
All of that; believing it in your heart, confessing it with your mouth and him being raised from the dead, will result in you being saved from a life of bondage.
Are you ready for a life of liberty and freedom?
Scott Street MB Church invites you to write your reflections and thoughts about the weekly messages shared by lead Pastor Jurgen Rausch.