The word ‘redemption’ refers to release from a state of enslavement, captivity or bondage, obtained by the payment of a price. The price paid is called a ‘ransom’.

When the New Testament refers to redemption, or to being redeemed, it is usually referring to the fact that God has, through the death of Christ, set us free from sin’s penalty. That is, God has released us from the guilt, judgement and penalty incurred by our sin. The death of Christ is the ‘ransom’ – the price paid to secure this release.

Jesus said that he came ‘to give his life a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). In other words, he came to pay the price necessary for our release.

Paul describes what happened:

‘There is no difference, for all ... are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood’ (Romans 3:22b – 25).

Elsewhere he wrote:

‘Christ Jesus, who has become for us ... redemption’ (1Corinthians 1:30).

‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”’ (Galatians 3:13)

‘But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those who under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons’ (Galatians 4:4, 5).

‘In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us ...’ (Ephesians 1:7 – 8).

‘... our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good’ (Titus 2:13 – 14).

Peter explains:

‘For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect’ (1Peter 1:18, 19).

And in Revelation, the new song in praise of Jesus, ‘the Lamb’, says:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation’ (Revelation 5:9).

This redemption, this release, this liberating action of God deliberately accomplished through the death of Christ, was anticipated in prophetic symbol and prophetic word right through the Old Testament. Repeatedly, a death occurs to obtain release for another.

We see it in Genesis 3:15, where an animal died to provide a covering for Adam and Eve.

We see it in Genesis 22, where God provided a ram, and Isaac lived.

We see it in Exodus 12, where the Passover lambs died, and the firstborn of the Israelites lived.

We see it in Exodus 14, where the Egyptian army died, and the Israelites lived.

We see it in the Levitical sacrifices (1 – 5, 16), where animals died to make atonement for humans.

But all of these were mere shadows pointing to a far greater reality, and taking their power and significance from that reality. They were but copies of the real thing, symbolising, predicting, anticipating the real thing. That ultimate reality is the death of Jesus Christ. The redemption obtained through his death is the real redemption, the final redemption. The eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).

© Rosemary Bardsley 2019