Note: This series of Holy Week devotions is taken from Dr. Albert Reyes’ upcoming book, The Jesus Agenda: Becoming an Agent of Redemption. All devotionals are posted here.
Thursday, April 2: Redeemed and Released
E. F. Harrison said, “No word in Christian vocabulary deserves to be held more precious than Redeemer, for even more than Savior it reminds the child of God that his salvation has been purchased at a great and personal cost, for the Lord has given himself for our sins in order to deliver us from them.”
As a child I understood Jesus as my savior but as an adult I have come to understand him more deeply as my redeemer. I have lived long enough to experience Jesus as both savior and redeemer of my life.
Theologian Otto Webber, said God’s self-disclosure is both reconciliation and redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The concept of redemption is found throughout the New Testament.
The New Testament was written in the first century in the Mediterranean world during the Greco-Roman civilization. As such, the common language was Koine Greek. In order to fully understand the concept of redemption in the New Testament, I will use a number of Greek words and give their meaning in English.
The two Greek words that are used most often for redemption in the New Testament are exagorazo and lutrosis. Exagorazo, meaning to buy or buy out, especially when purchasing a slave with a view to his freedom, is used in Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Revelation. Lutrosis, meaning to release on receipt of ransom, by paying a ransom, is used in Luke, Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Corinthians, Titus, 1 Peter and Hebrews.
The root word for exagorazo is agora, meaning “market, to buy.” This was used in the New Testament to indicate commercial life. The word for redemption was also tied to a financial transaction. In the New Testament, exagorazo is used for the redeeming and liberating act of Christ. This word also means an intensive buying which exhausts the possibilities available.
The New Testament use of this word for the work of Christ on the cross denotes a divine transaction that exhausts all means possible to gain our freedom through the sacrifice of Jesus for us. The root word for lutrosis is luo, meaning “to loose” and is used for the freeing of slaves. The noun form of this word translates as “ransom” and also carries the meaning of “money paid to ransom prisoners of war.”
Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 both say Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for all. The understanding is that Jesus’ death on the cross as a ransom for us is a basic element in the Church’s confession that cannot be surrendered. Stories of the redemptive work of Jesus are found throughout the New Testament.
Reflection: On this Maundy Thursday, the day before Jesus would die for our sins and become the ransom paid for us, take a minute to reflect on how deep the Father's love is for you.
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