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“He has purchased and freed me from all sins”

We call it ‘ransomed’. ‘Redeemed’ is a word used for church and the occasional coupon. But when a corporation pays out money to retrieve an executive, we say he was ransomed. It was an accepted part of ancient warfare that rich and important people were captured rather than slain so that they could be redeemed by their families. They were purchased, bought back. A price was paid to restore them to their life.

One important dimension of the crucifixion of Jesus is this notion of redemption/ransom. We have fallen into the hands of the enemy and God has paid the price to secure our release. No author captures this better, I think, than C. S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The wicked queen exults in ecstatic triumph when she trades the life of Edmund for that of the lion, Aslan.

Edmund, of course, doesn’t realize he has become a prisoner when he first begins to feast on the queen’s Turkish Delight. Nor do we, for the most part, realize that we have become captives. But we are not capable of escaping our brokenness. We are bent inward, away from others and towards our own wants, needs and desires. We are frail, and excuse it as “only human” – except that true humanity is manifest in Jesus and occasionally glimpsed in a selfless deed. But we don’t want to consider such to be the true norm, so we honor it as heroic and take comfort in our “only human” excuse for our limitations and failures. We call them “Christ like” without thinking that we were all meant to be like Christ. We are Edmund eating treacle.

But a price has been paid. A life has been given. A debt has been paid that we might be free.

We call it ransomed. The church word is redeemed.

And the price is not paid for ‘humanity’; it is paid for me.

The Prayer for Week 2

In the mystery of your love, O God,
you came to us in your Son, Jesus
and by his sacrifice delivered us from death’s dominion.
Make us ever mindful of the depth of your love
and the price of our redemption
that we may live your grace and life;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Luther’s Small Catechism

The Second Article:

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean?

I believe that Jesus Christ –
true God, Son of the Father from eternity,
and true man, born of the Virgin Mary –
is my Lord.

At great cost
he has saved and redeemed me,
a lost and condemned person.
He has freed me
from sin, death, and the power of the devil –
not with silver or gold
but with his holy and precious blood
and his innocent suffering and death.

All this he has done that I may be his own,
live under him in his kingdom,
and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness,
just as he is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally.

This is most certainly true.