March 13th, 2019
Last week on Ash Wednesday we looked at the cross as atonement. The cross is evidence of our sinfulness. We are responsible for the death of Christ. It is also evidence of how far God will go to bring us back to Him. God provides a way back to Him through the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ.
This sacrifice of Christ is an atonement for our sins. Just like the priests in the Old Testament, Christ is a sacrifice for our sins. We are forgiven because of God’s sacrifice of Christ. We are justified through sacrifice of Christ. God sees us not as sinners, but as saint as He sees us through the sacrifice of Christ.
That bring us to this second week of Lent. This week we continue the theme of examining the cross. We will shift the focus from atonement to redemption. When you focus on atonement you address the question of whatis paid; when you focus on redemption you address the question of whodoes the act of redemption. Job addresses the question in his suffering, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God – Job 19:25-26. The focus becomes God and his nature.
Prayer of preparation: “Great Redeemer, we know that we are indebted to you for all we have. We thank you for not handing us over to the power of death, but for buying us back in love, through the blood of your Son Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.”
Leviticus 25:14-25 reveals some of the nature of God. This passage focuses in on finances and using this prism to present who God is. Two things become clear. First, that our finances are under the reign of God. The way we treat one another re: our finances reveals our faith in God. Look at Matthew 25:40,” Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these brothers, you did it to me.” Second, finances reveal who is really the “god” in your life. Are you ruled by idolatry or by God?
There is a concept in Jewish life that reflects and represent this paying of a debt by God: the Kinsman Redeemer (seen in the best way in the book of Ruth). The Kinsman Redeemer’s job is to redeem a relative through the paying of their debt. God does what Kinsman Redeemer does: pays a debt that is fundamentally not His. This debt is paid with the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
This sacrifice of God is not limited to Christ. There is a history of God’s sacrifice for us. This is seen most poignantly in the story of Abraham. Abraham is told by God that he is to sacrifice is one and only son, Isaac. In faith, Abraham goes to do exactly this. You can imagine the nervousness and pain that went into the death of Isaac, the fulfilled of God’s promise to Abraham. We know the story. God, because of Abraham’s faith, redeemed Isaac though providing a ram for sacrifice.
As we wrap up this reflection we are reminded of 1 Corinthians 6:20, “. . . you were bought with a price.” In spite of our circumstance we know that our Kinsman Redeemer redeems us and this redeeming act continues on a day to day basis as we daily die to our life and allow Christ to live through us (as we live out our baptism). We confess the words of Job, “I know that my redeemer lives.”