There are many words, phrases, and metaphors used to describe Jesus primary purpose. Perhaps the most poignant for me is “redeemer.” All the other words are fantastic and useful and necessary. But this one word seems to encompass the whole of Jesus’ mission and our relationship to it.
So yes, Jesus is the savior. He is the propitiation (he paid for our guilt) of sins. Jesus is the good shepherd searching for us. He is the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one of God. All of those are contained in Redeemer. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—” (Galatians 3:13, NASB95)
Redemption contains a sense of value. The giving of something of value to rescue something of value. But redemption also has an older meaning for those of Jesus’ time. A meaning played out in the story of Ruth. In short, Ruth, the Moabite daughter-in-law of Naomi, after much heartache, followed Naomi back to Israel. Both were destitute being widows and in Ruth’s case a foreigner. Boaz, being a close relative but not the closest one, purchased the right to be their kinsmen-redeemer.
There was no entitlement on Ruth’s part. She couldn’t demand Boaz’s actions. Likewise, no one is entitled to salvation, to redemption, to any grace of God. Our sin separates us from God with an impossible to repay debt of guilt. God didn’t redeem humankind because we earned it or even requested it. All the action is fully on God’s side through Jesus. Paul wrote to the Romans, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NASB95)
Jesus redeemed us through His cruel death on the cross. He took our guilt and shame to the cross for us. For each of us. We deserved God’s wrath, we received His love. We deserved His judgement, we received His mercy. We deserved death, we received life. All through Jesus our redeemer, our savior, our Lord.
That is the simple and unique beauty of the Christian faith. What we could never earn God freely offers. All other religions attempt to appease a higher power through sacrifice and right-doing. Faith in Christ is centered on God making a way for us. This truth was so vital that early Christ followers called themselves something along the lines of People of the Way. It wasn’t until later that Christ followers adopted the name Christian (Acts 11:26).
In a business sense God’s act of redemption through Jesus was a terrible deal. The price of redemption far out weighing the value returned. But perhaps that is because our value of life, love, and each person is too cheap. In God’s economy it was an investment exceedingly worth the risk. Part of following Jesus is revaluing life, love, and each other and joining Jesus continuing mission to redeem others.
Perhaps this message of redemption is new to you. The Good News is that there is nothing to do but receive it. Jesus accepts us as we are right now with our sins, our guilt, our baggage, our wounds, our failures. By God’s grace you are redeemable in Christ. The work is complete. The only question is if you will receive it. Will you exchange your sin, guilt, baggage, wounds, and failures for God’s forgiveness, love, release, healing, and life? All you need to do is ask.