Summary: Our Lord was born to provide redemption, God’s great gift, for mankind.
GALATIANS 3:13, 14
GOD’S GREAT GIFT
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’”
Exchanging gifts is a tradition associated with the celebration of Christmas. Although giving gifts is a part of other celebrations, giving and receiving gifts is an important part of the tradition that has grown up around Christmas. Perhaps it was first practised to commemorate the gifts which the Magi brought to Mary’s newborn child, or perhaps it was simply an expression of the joy that marks this holy season. Whatever the reason, today we look forward to giving gifts to those whom we love; and undoubtedly, we each enjoy receiving gifts as well.
Today, I do not want to probe some arcane theological tenet, though the theme of the message is great. Neither do I imagine that our explorations will be considered profound. Rather, I anticipate that most of us will murmur assent, thinking that we have heard nothing that we did not already know. Of course, there is no new knowledge in this message, but it is a wonderful opportunity to recall the goodness of God expressed in the great gift of life in His Beloved Son. Join me, then, in reviewing the Apostle’s exclamation concerning God’s great gift.
GOD’S GREAT GIFT IDENTIFIED — “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” God’s great gift to mankind is redemption. “Redeem” is a term virtually unknown to modern Canadians, except in reference to investment. Theologically, the term has fallen into disuse.
However, this was not always the case. Recall some of the great hymns of a bygone era.
Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb,
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.
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.
I have a song I love to sing, since I have been redeemed,
Of My Redeemer, Saviour King, since I have been redeemed.
Though not sung much today, they speak of a forgotten truth of Christ as our Redeemer.
If redemption is so great, why do we not hear more about it? Perhaps the reason is that we preachers have grown careless. We have a tendency to pander to the base desires of those who listen to us, telling them what they want to hear. This may well be a reflection of our desire to be liked, being driven more by culture than by Christ. What I am saying is that our fear of man is often greater than our fear of God. Consequently, we sidestep controversial issues and refrain from saying anything that would hurt the feelings of those who listen and who provide our support.
Paul certainly speaks of redemption. He attests that redemption is in Christ Jesus [ROMANS 3:24]. Though our souls are redeemed, we await the redemption of our bodies [ROMANS 8:23]. Now, however, the Risen Son of God is “our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” [1 CORINTHIANS 1:30]. By His sacrifice, Jesus our Lord has redeemed us from all lawlessness and has purified for Himself a people for His own possession [see TITUS 2:14]. Because of this redemption He has provided, we now have the forgiveness of sins, indeed, the forgiveness of every trespass [see EPHESIANS 1:7], and we have received the adoption as sons [GALATIANS 4:5].
Thus, redemption is intimately associated with the concept of forgiveness and adoption and ultimately our transformation into the image of the Risen Son of God. However, knowing this does not yet explain what is meant by redemption. At the simplest level, redemption speaks of purchasing in the marketplace. In particular, the word speaks of purchasing again that which belonged to an individual and which has now been placed for sale in the marketplace. Too many people have stopped at this point without considering what the Bible says concerning redemption in its entirety.
The danger of stopping at this point is that we may draw the conclusion that our Lord engaged in some sort of monetary exchange with the devil to purchase us back. This view once held sway over theologians during the middle ages, and it still has currency among some individuals who prove careless in handling the Word of God. There are still people who imagine that in His death on the cross, Jesus was actually “paying” the devil a price required in order to buy back our souls.
As we have already seen, redemption speaks of the forgiveness of sins, the forgiveness of trespasses, and sets the stage for our adoption as sons. In other words, redemption speaks of setting aside the condemnation that we have appropriated to ourselves and preparing us to receive the inheritance of God’s own sons. Without the “adoption as sons,” we have no inheritance.