Jesus, the Great Redeemer

by Doy Moyer

To be redeemed is to be set free from an oppressive circumstance, generally by payment of a ransom price. Scripture tells a story of redemption, where people are set free from sin, purchased by the blood of Christ, and made again into a new creation fit for God’s service.
Many passages claim the Lord as the Redeemer. For example, Isaiah 48:17 identifies Yahweh as the “Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah refers to God this way several times (cf. Isaiah 43:14; 44:6, 24; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7). God had redeemed Israel from their oppressive situation in Egypt, brought them out, and made them His people. Jeremiah describes God as the Redeemer who is strong and will plead the cause of His people and judge Babylon (Jeremiah 50:33-34).

Redemption is a significant theme. For example, the idea of a redeemer is an important part of the story of Ruth and Boaz. After securing permission, Boaz became Ruth’s redeemer and married her. In the book of Job, Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives …” (Job 19:25). The concept of redemption runs throughout Scripture. Why? Because it points to the ultimate Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

The redeemer (sometimes called the kinsman-redeemer) was important for various reasons. These are also fulfilled in Jesus.

  1. The redeemer would pay a ransom price to purchase a kinsman out of bondage or slavery. One could sell himself into slavery to pay off a debt, for example, but the redeemer could pay off debts and buy the kin out of bondage. See Leviticus 25:47-49.
  2. The redeemer could buy back family land that had been sold by a relative (see Ruth 4:1-5).
  3. The redeemer could marry a widow of a kinsman who had passed (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). This was known as the levirate law of marriage and is also seen in the book of Ruth. This made sure the inheritance would stay in the family.
  4. The redeemer could avenge the blood of a relative who had been murdered by another. See Numbers 35:16-21.

These four points associated with the redeemer help us understand more what Jesus has done for us as our great Redeemer.

First, Jesus has released us from the bondage of sin by the price of His blood. Christians have been “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (I Peter 1:18-19).

Second, Jesus provides a reclamation of an inheritance. Jesus is called the mediator of the new covenant “so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant” (Hebrews 9:15). Peter says that Christians have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:3-4). God’s people are redeemed to receive the inheritance promised by God.

Third, Jesus is the bridegroom of His bride, the church (Revelation 19:6-8), and raised up the children of God to become the rightful heirs of God’s promise (this coincides with the previous point). We have been adopted by God (Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:1-7). The price for this was the blood of Jesus, which is far more precious than silver or gold (I Peter 1:18-19).
Fourth, Jesus is our blood avenger. The book of Revelation highlights this. Jesus is presented as the One who avenges His people and brings judgment on those who oppose God and His people. See, for example, Revelation 16:4-6. Revelation 16-19 demonstrates Christ’s authority to judge and redeem. Paul also writes that the Lord would bring vengeance on those who afflicted God’s people as evidence of the righteous judgment of God (II Thessalonians 1:5-12).

The redemption provided by Jesus is a manifestation of God’s grace. Paul affirmed that the grace of God has appeared and teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously, and godly as we await the coming of “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14). What we do for the Lord is gratitude for what He has done for us.

When Paul spoke about the sting of death and our victory in Christ (I Corinthians 15:54-55), he referenced Hosea 13:14, wherein God promised to ransom His people from Sheol and redeem His people from death. This is fulfilled in Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). By paying the ransom price of blood, we are redeemed from sin and death, for “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Sing it: “How I love the Great Redeemer.”

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