Editor's note: The following is a guest post from Joshua McClain, our former worship pastor at CBC. It was originally posted on his personal blog and is reposted here with his permission. You can find him at Resoundingworship.com Yesterday in worship I took a few moments to talk about redemption and told a little story to do so. A new song that we are singing, King of Kings, uses the word redeem in the second verse, so I took an opportunity to lead into the song by leaning into that word and using it as a teaching moment.
"To reveal the kingdom coming and to reconcile the lost, To redeem the whole creation You did not despise the cross. For even in Your suffering you saw to the other side, Knowing this was our salvation Jesus for our sake You died." - King of Kings
If I were to ask you what the word redemption meant, what would you say? The definition of redemption is the claiming or re-claiming of something in exchange for a payment or clearing of debt. There is a story about a little boy named Tommy. One day Tommy built a little wooden boat and was so proud of it. Wanting to try out his new boat, Tommy carried his new boat to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string. How smoothly the boat sailed! Tommy sat in the warm sunshine, admiring the little boat that he had built. Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Tommy tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. The little boat raced downstream. Tommy ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could. But his little boat soon slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for the boat. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tommy sadly went home. A few days later, on the way home from school, Tommy spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see -- sure enough -- it was his! Tommy hurried to the store manager: "Sir, that's my boat in your window! I made it!" "Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you'll have to buy it for one dollar." Tommy ran home and counted all his money. Exactly one dollar! When he reached the store, he rushed to the counter. "Here's the money for my boat." As he left the store, Tommy hugged his boat and said, "Now you're twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you." Though it is an earthly analogy and cannot compare to the grandeur of the redemption of mankind, I believe that this story helps us to understand the meaning of redemption. As sinful people, we separated ourselves from the Lord. Our status before God is one of guilt and condemnation.
With no way to justify ourselves, we stand helpless before the Holy One, deserving of a penalty of death. But God, rich in mercy, saw fit to rescue, redeem, and restore His people through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ on the cross. In order to redeem His people, the debt of our sin had to be paid. In humility, Jesus went to the cross and offered His life as a payment of debt for His people.
The substitutionary atonement of Christ was the payment required for the sin guilt that rested on us. Through His death, Jesus cleared the debt for His people! What a picture of love and grace, that Jesus would take our place. The grace and mercy of the Lord should propel us into praise, knowing that we have been redeemed for the glory of God!