Summary: Our redemption: Who paid the price and to whom was the ransom paid?.

When the Biblical subject of Redemption comes up, several questions come to mind. What is being redeemed? Redemption is from what? Redemption is for what? And Redemption is done by who? We are going to explore these questions and more this morning. But we need first to understand what the word “redemption” even means. Alister McGrath (a noted British theologian who wrote a few of my seminary books) said this about redemption:

Perhaps the most basic meaning of the concept of ‘redemption’ is ‘buying back’—as in the practice of redeeming slaves, a familiar event in New Testament times. At that time, people often sold themselves into slavery, sometimes for fixed periods, to raise much-needed funds for their family. A slave could redeem himself by buying his freedom. The Greek word used to describe this process could literally be translated as ‘being taken out of the forum [i.e. the slave market]’. The fundamental idea here is of restoring someone to a state of liberty, with the emphasis laid upon liberation rather than upon the means used to achieve it. In the Old Testament, God is often said to redeem his people. Again, the emphasis falls on the act of divine deliverance or liberation rather than upon its financial basis.[1]

A basic theme throughout the Bible is that of “redemption.” From the very beginning, in the garden Man has sold himself to sin, we inherited our sin nature from Adam and we had indulged that sin nature and we have become slaves to sin. More and more we alienate ourselves from God. And do you know what? We could not help ourselves. There was nothing we could do about it. We were bound for hell and there was nothing we could do to stop. It would take something bigger than ourselves to save us, to redeem us from that fate that we ourselves have put ourselves in.

For those of us who know Jesus, I believe it will not be until we are in heaven, and in the presence of Jesus that we will fully understand how sinful our condition was. When we realize our inability to save ourselves; when we see the holiness of God and our just how sinful we are and our sinful condition would never allow us to ever earn our salvation; When we see the great love that God had for us redeeming us with the blood of Jesus and what a great price that was to pay; All this considered and realized when we step foot in heaven, I do believe that praising God, and lifting high the name of Jesus for all eternity will be a natural reaction for us.

We read about this in Revelation.

Revelation 5:9 (NKJV) And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation

Ill: Nicky Gumbel tells this story in his study course “Alpha,” of two men who grew up as best friends, except that their lives took divergent paths. One became a judge, and the other a criminal. At one point the criminal ends up in the Judge’s court. He is obviously guilty, but he was the judge’s friend. If the judge let him off, he would not be fulfilling his role of dispensing justice. So what he does is he sentences his friend to the appropriate fine for his crime, he then steps down from the bench, takes off his robe, and writes his friend a check for the amount of the fine in full. This is what God does in Jesus. He sentences us to death for our sins, but then steps down from heaven and pays for our sins in full with his death. [2]

In our focal passage today, the scene in heaven is that of the 24 elders, who represent the saved from all humanity singing praises to Jesus, to the Lamb who was slain, to open the scroll that held the future of the earth. They pointed out that Jesus: “For You were slain.” Jesus died on our behalf. Because of sin the debt we owe is death, our death.

Romans 6:23b (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death …

That began back in the garden. The penalty for violating God’s rules is death. Adam and Eve had only one rule and they violated it. The penalty of death. We are due the penalty of sin which is death. But:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus was the Lamb, the sacrificial lamb, the Passover Lamb. As we enter this Easter season, we remember the Passover. When Pharaoh would not let the people go, God sent the death angel to kill the first born male of every household. The Jews were to slaughter a lamb, and put the blood on the doorposts of their house. The death Angel passed over all the houses with the blood on the door post.

God did not see the sinful people inside, he only saw the blood of the lamb. So it is with us and Jesus. God does not see us, but He sees the blood of Jesus, the Lamb that was perfect, and without blemish. That is the story of the whole OT. Sacrifices were made to cover sin. Blood was required.

Hebrews 9:22 (NKJV) And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

Jesus paid for our redemption with His blood. (Rev 5:9) “And have redeemed us to God by Your blood.” Other translation have “purchased men for God.” Who were the men purchased from, to who whom was the redemption, or ransom paid? It was paid to God. We had become slaves to sin, and the penalty for sin had to be paid.

A popular misconception is the price of redemption was paid to the devil. Nothing could be further from the truth. The devil is condemned and un-redeemable. The redemption was payment to God, the payment for our sins.

The fact is whole human race stands condemned before God because of sin. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We owed a debt to God that we cannot pay. We see this outlined for us throughout the whole Bible. It began in the OT sacrifice.

All the sacrifices made in the OT was just a shadow, a symbol what the perfect sacrifice to come.

We were not redeemed by doing good works. But many in the world believe in a salvation of works. Many believe in that great scoreboard in the sky. If my good deeds out number by bad deeds, then I win a free ticket to heaven. It does not work that way. I’m afraid the road to hell is paved by many with their so-called good deeds. The fact is, there is no good thing we could ever do to earn God’s favor. Nothing but the shed blood of Jesus would satisfied a most Holy God.

Hebrews 9:12 (NKJV) Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Once for all, all our sin, past, present and future are covered. It was not with silver or gold. It was none other than the blood of Jesus shed on that Roman Cross some 2000 years ago.

1 Peter 1:18–19 (NKJV) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

It is all about Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross.

Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

The Bible has several words that describe this payment, this ransom, this redemption Jesus paid on our behalf. The words you will hear are “atonement” or the complicated theological word “propitiation.”

1 John 2:2 (NKJV) And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

The NIV and CSB has “atoning sacrifice.” The word “propitiation” means to turn away the wrath of God with an offering. What would turn away the wrath of God? There is nothing we could ever do to turn God’s wrath away. His wrath on us means death. Only Jesus’ blood satisfies that holy wrath.

And here is the clencher. God wants us. God loves us. God wants to adopt us into His family. He wants to free us from the bondage of sin. The redemption paid was our adoption fee.

Ephesians 1:5 (NKJV) having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will

This is something we need to understand. God does love us and wants us to freely love Him. But we have the problem of sin and we cannot free ourselves from it. It is only by our turning to Jesus that we can be free. But many will refuse it. Many will not submit to God. Many want nothing to with God. Or they want God on their own terms. That’s not the way it works. Turning to God is an act of repentance. Turning away from sin, the thing that binds us and turning to Him.

2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

God desires all be to be saved.

1 Timothy 2:3–4 (NKJV) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

It is all abut coming to Jesus. It all about being in the family of God.

Romans 8:15–16 (NKJV)  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God

If we truly be the children of God, we are in His family. And the local family of God we call the church. Like family, we come together, we support one another. We all have accepted the same redemption that Jesus paid for us.

Again, Alister McGrath in His book “Redemption” says this about the church and those in the church: That is what the Church is meant to be—the community that accepts and welcomes those who have already been accepted and welcomed by God. It is, as Augustine of Hippo often pointed out, like a hospital that receives the wounded to tend them, so that they might become whole again: even more so, that they might become what God wants them to be, rather than what they were forced to be through living in a fallen, broken world. Acceptance and love precede renewal and recovery. Redemption, in its deepest sense, is about being accepted as we are, while being transformed into what we are meant to be. [3]

We come to Jesus just as we are. There is nothing we can do to clean ourselves up for Him. He paid the price, we let Him clean us up. As I have said before, Jesus loves us just the way we are, but He loves us way too much to leave us that way. The invitation is there. Will we accept the redemption paid for us?

[1] Alister McGrath, Redemption (London: SPCK, 2006), 6.


[3] Alister McGrath, Redemption (London: SPCK, 2006), 10.