Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Redemption.


I'll give you an illustration.

When I was about ten years old my friend and I would occasionally spend a whole Saturday collecting bottles so we could see a movie on Sunday.  The movie cost about $1.25 for kids. Now the popcorn alone is about ten times that amount.  But back in the day we could collect enough bottles to catch a movie and eat popcorn and buy a soda and have some candy.

My friend Larry would go very deep to get those bottles.  He would wade through swamp water to pick up a bottle tossed into some floating green goo next to the road.  He would climb through thick pricker bushes getting brush cuts on his face.  If it was a hot day in the summer he would be thick with sweat and road dirt by the end of the day.  His cut-off jeans would be filthy.  His white tee shirt was now only fit for a rag bag and his Converse lows would squish some toxic, orange, swamp swill out of the breather holes on the side of his sneakers.  His hair would be stuck to the side of his scratched up and mosquito bitten face and his hands were covered with cuts.  Larry went real deep to get those bottles.  He went ugly.

The bottles he would drag out of the depths were nasty too.  They might be bug filled or worm filled. They might be full of stale beer, flies or an occasional salamander.  Mostly, they were filthy and sun faded bottles tossed along train tracks and country roads we grew up walking down.

Most importantly they had a raised text on the neck of the bottle:  Mass. Redemption.  5c.

Massachusetts had a redemption on beer and soda bottles back then.  They were worth a nickel.  To Larry that stamp was gold.  Or, at least, a satisfying Sunday matinee at the movies.

We would haul in our bottles to a liquor store and wait to see if they would accept them.   These bottles had seen some hard times for sure.  The owner would look at Larry, and then the bottles, smile, and count out a few dollars into his grubbed out hands.  Satisfaction would spread across my friends face and his blue eyes would sparkle through the grime.  Every bug bite and swamp splash was worth it.  It was movie time.

Two days from now Christians all over the world celebrate a Savior that died on a cross to redeem humanity.  In the United States that day is oddly called: Good Friday.  Before I came to faith in Christ Jesus I had absolutely no understanding why a man hanging on a cross could be celebrated as something, "Good".

Then I learned about the value God puts on us and what He did to rescue us.  I also discovered how ugly in sin I was in my life.  From God's holy perspective, and not my own, I saw my sin and it crushed me into a heap of regret and sorrow.  And then I discovered I was redeemed.  Not partially but completely.  That price for my soul cost God His precious Son hanging on a cross.  What makes Good Friday, "Good" is that it reveals God's love for this world.  It reveals that God is so loving that He would give us His own Son to redeem us from the sin debt we could never earn away on our own.

Our sin costs us.  It separates us from God eternally.  And there is anguish in that separation that you and I cannot possibly imagine.  God paid that price for us.  We just have to believe He did it and we need it.  And understand this, you are not comparing your goodness/badness with people.  You are comparing your goodness/badness to God's Holy standard, which is, Himself.

You might not see yourself that "bad" and maybe God will cut you some slack.  That somehow there will be a slack people to get out of hell and you will be in that group.  Please, don't think for a second that's true.  It's a lie.  If God cut anyone any slack His Son suffered and died for nothing.

Jesus came to rescue us from every sin-filled, hell hole we would crawl into.  He came to seek and to find the lost and wretched souls alive in the body but dead in spirit.  The tossed away lives living in various swamps that only God can reach into.  Living lives that need redemption.

We all, desperately need redemption.

As it is written:

There is no one righteous, not even one.
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have all turned away;
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good, 
not even one.

Romans Chapter 3.

But He was wounded for our transgressions.
He was bruised for our iniquities. 
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, 
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned, every one, to his own way, 
And the Lord has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah Chapter 53.

To know you need redemption from every road apart from God you have walked on; from every swamp of pleasure or pain you wound up in, is a gift of God's mercy.  That knowing from His mercy crushes us.

In that awareness we remember His Son, Jesus.  We confess we need forgiveness and God picks us up out of the sludge, removes the vile things that we have collected in our hearts, and redeems us.

God searches for us, finds us and redeems us.

We love Him for it and share with others what He has done.

Good Friday He died.  Easter Sunday He is risen.  Risen!

This Easter weekend investigate Jesus Christ.  Risen, is playing at the movies.  When you sit there eating your ten dollar popcorn remember Jesus came to redeem, you.  I haven't seen it but what I've read sounds like it's worth every nickel.



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