Sunday 12th March 2017
This is week four in our study of Ruth. It is a story of disobedience and despair; return and restoration; hope and love. It is a story that pictures human beings and Jesus and the relationship we can have with God. So, although this is the last chapter of Ruth I’m going to be spending most of today talking about Jesus.
Jesus has many names in the bible, each of which give a different perspective of who he is. Lord and Saviour are perhaps most common but no word touches the heart like the name Redeemer. When we say Lord, we mean that Jesus Christ is the master over sin and death. When we say Saviour, we mean that he saved us from our sin. But when we say Redeemer, we remember what it cost him to save us. Redeemer is the name of Christ on the cross.
Redeemer is the name of Christ on the cross.
It is no wonder, then, that we often use this word in music.
“Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace.”
“Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed thro' His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am.”
“There for us and our redemption
See Him all His life-blood pour
There He wins our full salvation
Dies that we may die no more
Then arising lives for ever
King of kings whom we adore.”
“I could not do without You
O Saviour of the lost
Whose precious blood redeemed me
At such tremendous cost
Your righteousness Your pardon
Your precious blood must be
My only hope and comfort
My glory and my plea.”
William Cowper wrote the famous hymn “There is a Fountain.” The fourth verse goes like this:
“E’re since by faith I saw the stream your flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.”
Fanny Crosby wrote often about redemption. This is one we often sing, “Perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, to every believer the promise of God; the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”
Another one goes like this: “Sing O sing of my Redeemer
With His blood He purchased me
On the cross He sealed my pardon
Paid the debt
And made me free
I will sing of my Redeemer
And His wondrous love to me
On the cruel cross He suffered
From the curse to set me free
All those songs have this in common—they speak of the cross. For when you say Redeemer, you speak of what Jesus did when he paid for our sins with his own blood.
To redeem means to set free by the payment of a price.
It is a word that comes first from the marketplace. Second, it comes from the slave market. Third, it comes from the prison house.
Redemption takes us to the slave market where men and women who were slaves to sin are set free by the power of Jesus Christ.
The purchase price for a slave was called the redemption money.
In the ancient world men, women and children were routinely bought and sold. They were owned, traded, purchased, put to work. They could be handed down from one generation to another. You might be born into slavery or you might go into debt and legally fall into slavery. You might be captured by an army and taken as a slave as part of the booty, the victorious spoils of war. But if you became a slave in the days of the Bible, there were only two ways you could ever be freed from your slavery. In a few rare cases, a condemned person might have gathered enough money to pay a price and purchase their own freedom. That purchase price was called redemption. Far more often, it would be this—you were in slavery and somebody took pity upon you. They purchased you out of slavery. Then they, having purchased you, having paid the price, if they chose to, they could make you work for them as a slave or, in rare occasions, they could set you free. The purchase price for a slave was called the redemption money. To redeem means to see a slave, to pay the price, to take them off the market and then set them free. In redemption there is an exchange. One man pays the price so another man can go free.
Instead of our death, there is his.
There are three primary Greek words that are used in the New Testament for redemption. The first is "agorazo". It comes from the Greek agora which means the market place. In its secular sense, it means to go into the marketplace and buy something.
The second word is "exagorazo". "Ex" means out of. When you add it to agorazo it means to go into the slave market, to pay the price and to take somebody off the slave market and out of that area altogether.
The third word is the word "lutron", which means to set free or deliver somebody from captivity.
All three words are used in the New Testament to describe what Jesus did on the cross.
Instead of our blood, there is his.
Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
Titus 2:14 says, “Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness.”
And our central text is I Peter 1:18-19: “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, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
In Ruth we have the illustration of the Kinsman-Redeemer. In the Old Testament a member of the nation of Israel fell into slavery either because they went into debt or somehow they lost all of their possessions, or as in the case of Naomi because her husband Elimelech and then her two sons died. Because all the male members of the family died, she lost all the houses and lands and all the possessions that she had. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, was forced to go around into the fields and ended up gleaning in the fields of Boaz. In God’s plan it transpired that he was part of their family. He had the legal right to redeem them. He could purchase the right to take them out of poverty. He could bring them back into prosperity.
In the Old Testament there were four conditions that had to be met before a kinsman redeemer could pay the price.
1. He had to be a kinsman. He had to be part of the family. There had to be a blood relationship.
2. He had to be acceptable to all the parties involved.
3. He had to be able to pay the price, i.e. he couldn’t himself be in debt, because if he were in debt he couldn’t pay the price of redemption.
4. He had to be willing.
The story in the book of Ruth tells us that Boaz took a liking to Ruth. Then he realized that he was kinsman to Ruth and to her family and he had the right of redemption. But chapter four tells us that he wasn’t the number one kinsman because whoever was the closest kinsman had the first chance, then the second, third, fourth, etc. And Boaz was number two in line. So they have a meeting and Boaz talks to the number one man. He tells him that he is closer to the family than Boaz is and has the right to redeem the family and pay the price to bring them out of poverty. The number one man agreed he would do it. Then Boaz tells him that there is a little catch, because along with paying the price he would have to take Naomi and Ruth, and assume the whole family responsibility. The number one guy says, “I just changed my mind. I think I’ll pass. It’s all yours.” So Boaz says he would pay the price. They exchange their sandals, which was the public way of saying he would assume the debt and pay the price himself. So Boaz and Ruth were married and Ruth came into the line that eventually came down to David and down to the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is a perfect example of Boaz who was kin, who was acceptable, who was able and who was willing to serve as a redeemer.
So, Jesus is our kinsman.
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
He became one with us. The Lord of glory became our kinsman.
Was he acceptable? Yes, because he is the God-man, acceptable to God and also to man.
Was he able? Yes, because he was totally without sin.
Was he willing? Just look at the cross and you have your answer. So the Lord Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the Old Testament illustration and became our kinsman redeemer. He paid the price.
There are some things you must understand to know what redemption is all about.
1. We are all by nature slaves to sin.
The Bible says “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Because Adam sinned we are all slaves to sin. That may be an ugly thought, but it is utterly biblical. Maybe you are sitting there thinking ‘How dare you call me that, I’m a good person. I don’t need God.’ If you had children, when did you start teaching your child to do wrong? How long did you wait until you started teaching them to be wilful? You didn’t! They do wrong by nature.
It is exactly the same in the spiritual realm. As we come into this world, by nature we come in sinful separated from God. We are all by nature slaves to sin. Sin, then, is a chain around your neck. It weighs you down; it holds you back. Sin enslaves you and me, leaving all of us helpless and hopeless unless somebody reaches down to help us.
2. Jesus paid the price to free us with his own blood.
Redemption must be by blood. There are people who come into churches and hear us singing about the blood of the lamb and are repulsed by that. I can understand that in one way, because blood itself is not that pretty. It is not wonderful. Blood makes a lot of people squeamish. That thought of the blood of Jesus Christ is quite appalling, but if you take away the blood of Jesus Christ, you destroy the Christian faith. As the song says, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.”
I want to ask you a question. How much money would it take for you to pay for even one sin? I am thinking about the sins of your life, the sins you have committed since you got up this morning. Suppose you paid £5.00, do you think you could pay for one sin with that amount? What about £10.00? Would that cover it? Would God accept £100.00 and take away one sin? How about £1000.00? What if you had all the billions of Bill Gates? What if you had all the Rockefellers’ and Kennedys’ money? What if you had all the oil money of all the sheiks in the Middle East? How many sins could you forgive with all of that money? The answer is not one.
The Bible says it is not by silver or gold, there is not enough money in all the world even to forgive one sin, let alone all the thousands of sins that we commit.
3. Redemption means that we are set free from sin.
What does it mean to be set free from sin? No more guilt. No more dwelling in the past. No more shame or memories to haunt you. No more fear of hell. No more anger and despair. The debt of sin is cancelled, the chains are broken forever. The bonds that bind us and hold us back, and all of those habits that we can’t seem to break, all of them gone forever. No more price on our heads, no more debt to be paid. This is the message our world desperately needs.
Let me tell you, there is no sin, no matter how bad, or so deep within the human soul that it cannot be forgiven and wiped away, changed by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is the gospel truth. That is the hope of the Christian faith.
So let me give you redemption applied in four quick points.
1. Because redemption is true, the price for sin has been fully paid.
2. Because redemption is true, you are no longer in bondage to the old way of life.
3. Because redemption is true, all human systems for finding approval, self worth and forgiveness are empty, useless and ultimately self defeating.
4. Since redemption is a work of God, it results in freedom which is absolute, complete and eternal.
What it means is you are absolutely free, you are completely free and you are eternally free.
I want to finish by giving you two implications of redemption:
1. We are exceedingly valuable to God. This is not because of what we are but because of what it cost Jesus to purchase us. It is not as if God looked down and said, “Well, these people are worth so much, I have to go down and save them.” No, we all deserve punishment and hell.
Imagine you went to an auction and saw some little trinket. You think it is absolute junk and you wouldn’t take it if they paid you. Then the bidding starts and you think they will never sell it. The first guy offers £50. The next says £100. The next says £200. You just want to stand up and shout, “What’s the matter with you? Have you lost your minds? That is a worthless piece of junk!” And it ends up selling for £500 or £1000 because it is some heirloom that some great sculptor made two or three hundred years ago. What was junk to you turns out to be precious to somebody else. Listen to this. In an auction, a thing is worth what a person will pay for it. Think what we must be worth, then, to God. Think what it cost him to purchase our salvation. It cost him the blood of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Our position could not be improved.
We are set free from sin. We have redemption right now. We stand before God as his sons and daughters. We are forgiven, seated with Jesus Christ in heaven. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of God. We are OK! We are in a good position, it couldn’t possibly be better. That is the result of redemption and the grace of God.
One of the things prisoners struggle with is having to go back to their home area because the people they got into trouble with are still there. They worry that they might get into trouble, break their probation and go back to jail.
I wonder if that is the way many Christians feel about redemption. They don’t think they have really been set free. They think they are on parole with God. They are afraid that if they mess up, they will go back to prison.
Brothers and sisters, we are not on parole. We’ve been redeemed. We are bought with a great cost. We’re not on parole, and we’re never going back to jail again. We’ve been set free.
The year was 1829. A man by the name of George Wilson had been arrested, tried and convicted of murder and theft. Because his family was well known, when he was sent to prison, his family made appeal after appeal. Eventually the appeals reached the desk of the President Andrew Jackson. After he reviewed the files and because he knew the family and their background, and for their account he offered not just clemency, but a pardon to George Wilson. They took the news into the prison. George Wilson refused the pardon. He said he didn’t want it because he was guilty and deserved to die. They told him he couldn’t say no to it because it was a presidential pardon. But he said he could and was saying no to it. That started a tremendous legal battle because that question had never been raised in American history. Eventually it worked its way up to the Supreme Court and the decision came down from Chief Justice John Marshall, who said, “A pardon is of no effect until it is accepted by the one for whom it is intended.” He went on to say, “Though it is almost inconceivable that a condemned criminal would refuse a pardon, if he does refuse it, the pardon is of no effect. George Wilson must die.” And die he did because he would not accept the pardon that had been offered.
Will you accept God's pardon?
What I want to say to you is this. If you do go to hell, don’t blame God. Don’t tell him you never knew, because now you do. If you don’t accept the pardon God offers you, then you will have to live with the results of your own decision. Jesus Christ has paid it all, but he will not force his way into your heart. The Bible says he stands at the door and knocks, but he needs to be invited in. And now, in the name of Jesus Christ, I tell you the price has been paid in full. You don’t have to go to hell unless that is where you really want to go. But if you don’t do anything, that is where you are going to go.
The pardon has been offered. Now you have to reach out your hand and say you want it. How do you do that? I will lead you in a prayer right now. Pray this in your heart.
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I know I cannot save myself. Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. Thank you for paying the price for all my sin, for being my redeemer. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Saviour. I open my heart and my life to you. Amen.”
It is as simple and as difficult as that. Did you pray that prayer? If you did, you need to tell somebody about it.
Walk then in freedom. Jesus Christ has set you free. And if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.