Into Your hand I entrust my spirit;
You have redeemed me, Lord, God of truth.
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE (NASB)
Redemption Is A Major Biblical Theme, So Major That It Begs To Be Understood
But understanding is not easy. Despite all my efforts to wrap my head around the concept and primacy of the event of redemption (death and resurrection of Christ) I find that it is so immense, so “beyond” that I can’t grasp even a fragment of it. That is, until the metaphor of a pawn shop, as basic and mundane as it is, came to mind.
What Is Biblical Redemption?
In the context of the social, legal, and religious customs of the ancient world, “the metaphor of redemption includes the ideas of loosing from a bond, setting free from captivity or slavery, buying back something lost or sold, exchanging something in one’s possession for something possessed by another, and ransoming.” In the Old Testament, “redemption involves deliverance from bondage based on the payment of a price by a redeemer.” This deliverance or redemption may be a result of selling oneself into slavery because of poverty. Leviticus 25:47-49 provides such an example where “an Israelite who has had to sell himself into slavery because of poverty may be redeemed by a kinsman or by himself. Property sold under similar conditions could likewise be redeemed, thus keeping it within the family.” (1)
Redemption in OT times was largely described in physical terms, though in Psalm 130:7-8 we also see it in spiritual terms and the redemption from sin (or estrangement from God).
Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.Psalm 130:7-8
In the New Testament, redemption refers supremely to the work of Christ on our behalf, whereby he purchases us, he ransoms us, at the price of his own life, securing our deliverance from the bondage and condemnation of sin. Redemption terminology is relatively limited with most writings on the ministry of Christ using words and images such as atonement, sacrifice, justification, and forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7 combines both references:
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”Ephsians 1:7
What Happens At A Pawn Shop?
We bring something with some sort of value to the pawn shop, it is evaluated against price lists, previous sales, and even Google and eBay transactions. We are offered approximately 40% of its actual value. If accepted, we are loaned cash and given a receipt with which we can redeem the item only after paying a high interest rate for the loan. Of course, the item may be claimed earlier by someone else paying a price that allows the pawn broker a profit. Or, if never reclaimed after a specified date, it becomes the property of the pawn broker and sold. In other words, we lose it.
Bringing It All Together: Redemption And The Pawn Shop
Frail, weak creatures that we are, through our actions we inevitably come into debt with our Creator God. Though it is a debt we cannot pay, for it involves our priceless souls, we attempt to raise funds by selling ourselves for a fraction of what we are worth. We sell to Satan, the pawn broker of souls, and the cash we receive is in the form of fame, power, position, possessions, or other inducements.
If we come to our senses and try to redeem our souls, we discover that the interest is too great. If we wait too long and languish in our bondage, we may be claimed by death. And if, out of despair, we simply give up on ourselves, then we are lost, forever.
Christ Is Our Means Out Of Debt
He is The Way and has the desire to reclaim us for himself, to free us from the bondage of a debt that cannot otherwise be paid. This debt is so great that it requires a sacrifice beyond measure. This is redemption, and all we have to do is to give Christ the pawn ticket to our souls and ask Him in faith to buy us back. And it will be done. In fact, it has already been done.
“A man cannot redeem himself— redemption is the work of God, and is absolutely finished and complete. And its application to individual people is a matter of their own individual action or response to it.”Oswald Chambers October 7 Daily Devotional on 2 Corinthians 5:21
How Much Am I Worth?
On a final note, how to you see your worth? In today’s world, the greater the price, the greater the worth. But in God’s world, there is no differentiation, for we were all bought—redeemed—for the same, incalculable price.
(1) Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, R. David Rightmire