I don’t think about redemption much and I would guess you don’t either. Sometimes you’ll hear of a sports team or some other competitor playing for redemption of a previous loss or error. And we might be given a coupon to redeem at a store, usually in the hope we’ll do more than purchase just the item from the coupon.
The dictionary says the word redeem “implies releasing from bondage or penalties by giving what is demanded or necessary.” This can describe what Jesus did when he gave his life for us, to redeem our lives from the slavery of sin and death. It doesn’t stop there, though many people think it does. Redemption is ongoing and the state in which we live. We are redeemed, every day, now and forever.
We also live in the state of already and not yet. We are still awaiting our final redemption, when we can trade in these old, tired bodies for new ones (Romans 8:23, NIV; it’s interesting to read this verse in different translations). I’m looking forward to attaining some superpower abilities.
Living a redeemed life is being aware that we are not our own, we are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV). Our bodies may be falling apart but they are gifts from God and he calls us his temple. We are meant to honor him with these bodies, all the while looking forward to the time our redemption will be total and complete.
When we think of restoring something, it’s usually a painting, a house or maybe an ancient artifact – all things that have seen better days. It takes an expert to accomplish the restoration of an item to its former glory, especially if it’s something of value or very old and rare. But some things can’t be restored, not in this life anyway. Many things have been ruined, lost, destroyed, mangled beyond repair, including the lives of countless people.
A classic story of restoration in the Bible is Job’s happy ending. After losing everything he had, including his sons and daughters, all was restored to him. He got back his flocks and then some and had seven more sons and three more daughters. Job 42:12 tells us God blessed him in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. Wouldn’t it be great if all of our trials had such good outcomes?
We will probably never experience restoration like Job, but then we will no doubt never go through the same kind of trial he had to endure. But just as Jesus cleans up for us and refreshes us both now and in the future, he also makes restoration to us. He won’t necessarily restore lost wealth and belongings and I wouldn’t want to be having more children at my age, but we can count on other kinds of restoration now – relationship with him which restores to us peace, hope, grace, mercy, assurance of his love, strength to endure, and probably things I can’t even think of. But never doubt what we’ve all lost will be restored and then some. We can’t even imagine what he has for us when the fullness of the Kingdom is here – that’s how much he loves us.
You know how certain bath products promise not only cleanliness but also that you’ll feel refreshed? Jesus does and will do a lot more than clean up after humanity. He’s also in the business of refreshing, not just in the future, but now as well.
In Acts 4:19 (NIV), Peter told his fellow Israelites to repent and turn to God, so their sins would be wiped out and times of refreshing would come from the Lord. And David of course, knew all about being rejuvenated by God. Psalm 23 tells us David found rest near quiet waters and his soul was refreshed in green meadows. Does anything sound more relaxing and refreshing than that?
A life refreshed in Jesus is one we can all enjoy, even those of us who don’t like mornings or Mondays; even when we’re exhausted and at the end of our rope. I’m not saying we won’t still feel tired and stressed, but when we turn our thoughts to Jesus, he will transport us in the Spirit to a resting place in his luxurious love and an oasis of peace near the quiet brook of bliss (Psalm 23, TPT).
In case you’re interested, I’m still cleaning up messes, but I’m looking forward to when all the messes are gone and we won’t have to deal with them anymore. In the meantime, I’ll be scrubbing on the outside but near the brook of bliss on the inside.
It seems there’s always something to clean up. It also seems I’m usually the one who has to do it. Cleaning the house, washing the dishes, taking care of spills and accidents – it’s all part of life. I won’t even mention all the messes involved with babies and children. Cleaning up after them also fell to me. Sometimes I like to think I’m in good company though, as I share this chore with the greatest mess cleaner in the universe.
Humans made a mess right out of the starting gate of the paradise God created for us and we’ve continued to mess up everything since then. Over the centuries, many have tried to set things right, coming up with this solution and that, sometimes making small improvements and sometimes making it worse. We keep trying but we’ll never solve the world’s problems on our own. Only one person can do that.
Jesus will perform the ultimate cleanup of all our messes. He will make everything right – absolutely everything. “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4, NIV).
For all of us who get tired of cleaning up, we can look forward to the time when there will be no more messes of any kind because Jesus will have done it once and for all. In the meantime, I’ll just have to continue cleaning up, perhaps with a new perspective.
Thinking about Steve McVey’s statement of how God relates to us from a posture of forgiveness made me wonder about Hebrews 7:25 which says Jesus lives to intercede for us. This might be another one of those verses we read through and believe we understand what it means. But as our old friend Inigo Montoya reminds us, I do not think it means what you think it means. Some, or even many, probably think of Jesus standing before God the Judge, begging and pleading on our behalf that the angry God won’t yell “Off with their heads!”
If we start at the beginning of what we know about God, we must remember he is love, which means everything he does emanates from love. And then when we remind ourselves that Jesus’ work was finished on the cross, it makes no sense that he would need to constantly plead for our forgiveness.
Two online commentaries and present this perspective: “Jesus’ intercession on our behalf is not a matter of placating an angry Father who wants to destroy us. It is not a matter of continually chanting prayers on behalf of His people. It means that He continually represents us before the Father so that we can draw near through Him, and that He defends us against Satan’s accusations and attacks” (enduringword.com). He intercedes “now in heaven; not by vocal prayer and supplication, at least not as in the days of his flesh; or as if he was supplicating an angry Judge; nor as controverting, or litigating, a point [in] the court of heaven; but by the appearance of his person for them; by the presentation of his sacrifice, blood, and righteousness” (biblestudytools.com) [emphasis mine].
Even though these commentaries try to put the intercession of Jesus in terms we can understand, it is still a mystery. It’s also a huge subject and I make no claims to be an expert, but for me, reading Jesus’ prayer for the disciples and for us in John 17 helps me understand in words how it might go within the Trinitarian discourse. It’s a beautiful prayer for unity, joy, holiness and protection. The Passion Translation puts it beautifully and I recommend you read it with the perspective of our living Savior always interceding (NIV), sticking up for us (MSG) and continually praying for our triumph (TPT).