Summary: The work of Jesus in redeeming us
Redeemed – Eph 1:7-12
Steve Simala Grant – July 22, 2001
Our passage this morning jumps into the middle of a long section of praise to God for His great blessings. The first section, vss. 3-6, elaborates on the blessings we have in God the Father, and this second section elaborates on the blessings we have in God the Son. Next week we’ll look at the blessings in God the Holy Spirit. Paul began with a cosmic perspective, reminding us that God chose us before the creation of the world, and that He adopts us into his family. This section comes to an historical point – the death and resurrection of Christ – and praises God for the blessings we have through Jesus’ sacrifice.
1. Redemption and forgiveness
2. Grace lavished
3. Mystery revealed
1. Redemption and forgiveness. (vs. 7)
The section of praise to God the Son begins at a familiar place – the cross. The cross of Christ is where our redemption was purchased, it is what makes forgiveness possible. The phrase “through his blood” is the reference to the cross – and is so much more. The idea of “blood” was a familiar one to a culture where sacrifices were common, and is part of the background to this verse. The idea is that by pouring out his blood for us, Christ made it possible for our sins to be forgiven and for us to be “bought back” from our slavery to sin. Why blood? It was considered the essence of life – the emphasis of the phrase is on Jesus’ total sacrifice – the giving of his entire life – and the cost of that sacrifice.
And it is through this blood of Christ that we have redemption. The idea of “redemption” is a bit of a stretch for us to really understand today. It is the idea of being set free, of being bought back out of slavery or prison, and restored. Many of us have absolutely no idea what it means to be enslaved – to be stripped of any personal rights, dignity, or freedom. To become property of another – no longer human but merely a thing to be used, abused, or neglected entirely at the whim of someone else who “owns” you. We can’t imagine what it means to literally have shackles on our ankles, which limit our ability to move farther than the short chain might allow. We have heard about slavery, but in general it is probably so far removed from our own experience that it is difficult for us to grasp the complete helplessness and despair. To know that there is not a single thing we can do for ourselves to change our situation.
But if you can imagine what it means to be enslaved – if you can sense a bit of the horror and helplessness – then we can start to understand what redemption is. It is the idea of someone, in this case a perfect stranger, appearing out of nowhere and paying the debt, assuming the responsibility, in fact exchanging places with you and I in the shackles. Being redeemed means that someone from the outside has come to us in our helplessness and set us free.
That is the essence of the cross of Christ. Because of our sin, we were enslaved. We were trapped. We were helpless. Without dignity, without humanity, without hope. And then God. And you know, the Gospel – the good news – is as simple as that: we were lost, but God… And so Jesus came to rescue us. He came to liberate us. He came to set us free. He redeemed us – buying us back from the slavery to sin and enabling us to be free to be in relationship with God.
The irony about our slavery to sin is that many have gotten so used to it that they think it is normal – even a good place. After a while of living in the garbage dump, the smell sort of becomes unnoticeable, a half-eaten sandwich discarded days ago becomes a feast. We become accustomed to it, and never think that we might be missing out on so much more that is freely offered. This is where your job and my job comes in as witnesses for Christ – we need to go to the places where people are enslaved, and by our words and our lifestyle demonstrate that there is so much more freely available in Christ.
So I need to ask you – are you free? Have the shackles fallen, have you accepted the liberty offered you, have you ran as fast as possible from the place where you were trapped? “In him we have redemption.” If you haven’t, I proclaim to you this moment that freedom is offered to you – right here and right now. Christ is alive and wants to set you free. What you must do is believe – have faith – and then experience true freedom.