Week 3, Day 4: Redemption
In the Redemption chapter of the gospel story, we learn that Jesus, by his life, death, and resurrection, defeated the power of sin so that we might be reconciled to God, to one another, and to creation.
I used to think Jesus was like a divine train conductor; only he could dispense the ticket I needed to get to heaven. And while I greatly appreciated the offer of a ride — and the fact that he’d already paid for the trip — it seemed like a rather transactional exchange, and not one that would make me feel an enormous amount of gratitude.
But over the years, as I’ve experienced and gotten to know Jesus better, both in the pages of Scripture and in my own life, I’ve realized that Jesus is so much more and Jesus offers so much more. Jesus shows us what God is like and he shows us what we — as human beings, as image-bearers of God — are supposed to be like.
READ: COLOSSIANS 1:15-20
Yesterday we read about the bad news. But the good news is that God, knowing we could never find our way back to him and to fullness of life with him, took it on himself to make a way. In the person of Jesus, God came to the world as a human being and chose to bring blessing and wholeness himself. He loved us and desired relationship with us so much that he chose to suffer the consequences of our sin and rebellion himself so that we wouldn’t have to. That’s why it says, in John 3:16-17:
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
Jesus came and lived the God-loving and others-loving life human beings were created to live. He began and embodied life in the kingdom of God, where everything he said and did was an expression of God’s rule and reign. In fact, as we read in Colossians 1, Jesus is God in human form; if we want to know what God is like, we need only look at Jesus. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus explained his mission:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
The word ‘redemption’ comes from a Latin word meaning “to buy back.” Jesus came to bring us life in the kingdom of God, an eternal kind of life. And he gave up his life to defeat sin and death, so that our sin-stained slates might be wiped clean, our damaged souls might be made whole, and we might once more be reconciled to God — the source of life and the source of our lives. In fact, Jesus came to redeem and to reconcile not just human beings but all of creation — “all things ... whether things on earth or in the heavens” (Colossians 1:20). Just as God once declared all things good and very good, so also God will make “all things new” (Revelation 21:5).
God has given us a wonderful gift. It is the promise not only of a clean slate, but of a full life, a significant life, a life that really matters, life directed toward the end for which it was designed, life with God. Everything pales next to this gift! As Jesus said, “I came so that they could have life — indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest” (John 10:10b) — he was talking about all of us! Christ’s example, sacrifice, and friendship, and his gift to us of the Holy Spirit, mean we now have the potential not only to survive and get by, but to live purposeful, meaningful, and fulfilling lives, growing more and more into the people God made us to be — people who live and love like Jesus did. Here, as James Choung writes, we are “restored for better.”
But there is one important piece to remember. If I were to offer you a gift, you would need to accept it in order for it to become fully yours, in order to fully enjoy and experience the gift. In the same way, Christ offers us this gift but we have to choose to receive it — remember, love always requires a choice made freely. We receive God’s gift of grace by:
asking him, as our Savior, to forgive our sins and rescue us from wasting our lives;
giving him, as our Lord, ownership — or final say — over our lives;
committing to follow him and learn from him as our Teacher;
walking with him and talking with him as our Friend;
seeking him, as our King and the king of God’s kingdom, above all things and in every area of our lives.
Choosing to follow Jesus is the most important decision you will ever make.
REFLECT & RESPOND
Head: What do you find most encouraging about God’s redemption plan through Jesus? What do you find most challenging about it?
Heart: Have you experienced a problem that was too big for you to solve? How did you feel about it? What in your life — or in the world — feels too big to solve?
Hands: Complete the sentence, “I want to commit to following Jesus this week by ____.” Take two pictures of some things that give you hope.
Lord Jesus, redeem all of the broken parts of my life and redeem all of the broken parts of the world. Amen.
Jesus came to bring us life
in the kingdom of God,
an eternal kind of life.