Jesus - Our Redeemer
March 10, 2010 Length: 39:18
What does it mean to say that we are "bought with a price"? Fr. Tom talks about redemption and how Christ has "purchased us" with his own blood or Life.
As we continue reflecting on the names and the titles of Jesus in the Holy Scripture, we want to think today, and meditate a bit today, on the fact that Jesus Christ, Jesus the Messiah, is our Redeemer, our Ransomer. In the Scripture he is called, not only the Redeemer, but our Redemption.
I guess the text that we would want to hear on that one would be the first Corinthian letter where the apostle is speaking about the Cross of Christ, and the word of the Cross, and that we Christians believe that the Cross of Christ is wisdom and power, the power of God, the wisdom of God. It is written in this way:
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. (1 Cor 27-30)
So Christ is our righteousness, He is our sanctification, and He is our redemption. And certainly, he is our redeemer, the agent of God’s redeeming activity in saving and glorifying the whole of creation.
So we want to think about what that means. What does redeemer mean? And here, we would want to begin by saying that in the Holy Scripture you have a kind of a pattern that is consistent in the Scripture, and that is that every divine act has its origin in the one true God who is the Father of Jesus Christ. So God, the Father, is the source, the cause, the fount—these are all technical terms in theology and in the Scripture. He is the arche, He is the eatia, He is the pegi. He is the source, the fount, the beginning, of all activity.
But it is also the teaching that all the actions of God, the Father, are done by the Son of God, by his Logos, by his Son, by his wisdom, and that is Jesus Christ. It is the one who is born of Mary on earth as the man, Jesus Christ. So, we would say that all acts come from the Father, but they are done by and through the Son, and then they are completed, they are accomplished, they are perfected, by the Holy Spirit. So it is the Spirit of God that accomplishes and fulfills all things, but the agent of all of the divine actions is the demiourgos, is the Son of God, is the Logos, is the Word, and of course, that means, is Jesus Christ, himself.
So, to give examples of what we are saying here, would be this: God almighty creates everything by and through his Son, Jesus Christ, by the perfecting power of the Holy Spirit. So you have even texts in the Scriptures that Christ is the one by whom all things were made, through whom all things were made. That is St. John’s gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God, He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and nothing came to be that came to be, except through him.”
In the letter to the Hebrews it would say, “God spoke in various ways, in various places, through various prophets, but in these latter days He spoke to us through his Son, by whom, or through whom, He also created the ages, He created all the ages, all the worlds, all the times.” So, creation is an act of God, accomplished by the Son of God, and perfected by the Spirit of God, because the Spirit of God is over the waters in Genesis, bringing to be all that would be. And you could just make this as a pattern: God reveals himself through the Son by the Holy Spirit, or in the Holy Spirit, that God sanctifies the world and the Son is the sanctification or the sanctifier, and the Holy Spirit is the one who sanctifies, who fulfills or completes the act of divine sanctification. God is the true God and his Son is the truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. God is a wise God, his wisdom is the Son. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom. You have all this Trinitarian character of all the divine activity from the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.
And then you could even speak that the reverse is also true. When we cooperate with God, it is because the Holy Spirit is in us, and then the Holy Spirit perfects our activity, and so through Christ, the Son of God, we then have communion with the Father. So you could say, it is from the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit, and then in the Holy Spirit we respond through the Son, back toward God, back to God. So we have communion with God through Christ, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And God has communion with us through Christ by the Spirit also dwelling within us. This is a pattern that you find through the Scripture and through all of Orthodox Christian theology.
Now, this is certainly the case with redeemer and redemption. The very, very clear teaching of the Holy Scripture is that God is the redeemer. God will redeem all things. God is the one who saves and redeems all things. For example, in Job you have that famous line, sung in Handel’s Messiah, I believe, “I know that my redeemer liveth,” and my redeemer is Yahweh, my redeemer is the Lord, God, himself. He is the one who will redeem me. And we will see in a minute what that redeeming action means. What does it mean to be redeemed, or to be ransomed?
But let’s just listen again to some of these lines that you have, particularly in Isaiah. If you read the second part of Isaiah, from 40, on through the end, you see how many times that word, redeemer, is used. And the term redeemer, these are Scriptural words that are repeated again and again, if you take the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament, you have these words: Lytron means, a ransom, or a means of release, a means of redeeming. Lytrosis means redemption, or liberation, or release, or setting free. Lytrotis is redeemer, or deliverer, or liberator, the one who actually sets free. lytrome is a verb, to redeem, or to set free, to liberate, to deliver, to release. And then you have antilytron, which means, a ransom, or that which affects the act of redemption, the act of release. It can even be considered to be the payment. And then you have the verbs of payment, or buying, purchasing, setting free. You have all these words in Scripture, and then you have words similar to them like the term hilasmos, which means propitiation, or expiation, in other words, that act, or that reality by which the redemption or the ransom actually occurs.
But if we are looking now at the term, redeemer, I will just read now how these are used in Isaiah, and this part of Isaiah is often called the Old Testament gospel, the pre-evangelium, the proto-evangelium, the part of the Old Testament that most clearly speaks about what will happen when the Christ comes. So you have, for example, the Lord saying, “You, Israel, are My servant, Jacob My chosen, the offspring of Abraham. You are My servant. I have chosen you, I have not cast you off. Fear not, I am with you. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Fear not, I will help you. I am the Lord your God. Fear not, you men of Israel. I will help you,” says the Lord. “Your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” That would be from Isaiah 41.
Then you can just keep on going through Isaiah. I can just flip my pages and practically every page I find this type of expression. For example, the 43rd chapter:
But now, thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, oh Israel. Fear not. I have redeemed you. I have called you by My name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior. I gave Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you. (Isaiah 43)
So then you have sentences where redeemer is used together with savior. “I, I am the Lord. Beside Me, there is no savior. There is no other redeemer. Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. I am He” (Is 43:11).
So you have this again and again—the first and the last: “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, I am the first, I am the last. Beside Me there is no God. Beside Me there is no redeemer, there is no savior” (Is 44:6). And this is all speaking about Yahweh, the Lord, the Lord God. “I am the Lord, there is no other. I am God, there is no other. I am the Lord, a righteous God, and a savior. There is none beside Me. There is no other.”
And then He continues, again and again, until you finally get into those chapters of Isaiah, where you have it saying, “Thus says the Lord, the redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the servant of rulers. A King shall see and arise, princes shall prostrate themselves, because the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, He it is who has chosen you. He is your redeemer. He is your Lord. Then all flesh shall know on that day that I am the Lord, your savior, and your redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob” (Isaiah 49).
Then you have the servant of God, through whom God affects his ransom, who affects his deliverance, his liberation, his release, his redemption, where it speaks of all those who were delivered and saved and the ransom shall return and there shall be everlasting joy, and God, himself will do this, but then he says how it will happen. And here, I will read 52: “Thus says the Lord, you were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money. For thus says the Lord. My people went down at first into Egypt to sojourn there. And therefore, what have I here, says the Lord, seeing that My people are taken away for nothing? The rulers wail, says the Lord, and continually, My name is despised. But, therefore My people shall know my name. Therefore, in that they shall know that it is I who speak, here am I who has redeemed Jerusalem.”
And then when it describes the servant of God, the man of sorrows, the one who makes himself an offering, and of course, in the New Testament there are ten literal quotations of Isaiah 53, and 32 allusions in the New Testament to Jesus offering himself as the ransom, as the redemption of God. That is how God redeems and ransoms his people, through his suffering servant.
You have a beautiful text in 54 where it says this: “For your maker is your husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name, and the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer. The God of the whole earth, He is called. For the Lord has called you, like a wife, forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your Lord. For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid My face, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your redeemer.” So you have this constant affirmation that God is the redeemer, the ransomer, the one who purchases, the one who pays the price, the one who liberates, the one who sets free.
It continues throughout the whole Scripture in this way. I will just read one more last Isaiah line. It is in the Psalms as well. Let’s hear one more line from Isaiah. “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age. You shall suck the milk of nations, you shall suck the breasts of kings, and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your savior, and your redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob.” So the redeemed of the Lord are redeemed by the Lord, and the one who enacts the redemption, according to Isaiah, is the suffering servant. It is through him that God accomplishes his act of redemption.
Now, in the New Testament, of course, you have this all over the place. I mean, it is just there. If you begin in Luke, for example. I am doing this just as examples, because there are so many places where these words are actually used, or where they are implied when they are not actually used. But let’s just hear, for example, the father of John the Baptist, when John the Baptist is born and Zacharias’ silence is broken, and the priest, Zacharias, is filled with the Holy Spirit and he prophesies and this is what he says. “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for He has visited and redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant, David, as He spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father, Abraham, to grant us that we be delivered (redeemed or ransomed) from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our lives.”
Then he goes on to say, “A new child shall be called the prophet of the most high,” and then He refers to his son. Then when Jesus is actually born, Mary and Joseph take him to the temple, to offer him, and to actually redeem him, because this very verb redemption was also used in the law of Moses, to buy back the first-born. According to the law of Moses, all the first-born belonged to God, they were his. So when there was a first-born of an animal, but certainly a first-born human, certainly a first-born son, the parents had to go to the temple or to the priest and, so to speak, buy the son back by offering a sacrifice. If they were wealthy, it was a lamb. If they were poor, it was pigeon, or turtle doves, or something like that. That is what, in fact, you find Mary and Joseph doing, which probably means that they were not very wealthy, and that they did not have the lamb to offer, but they went to the temple, because every male child that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord, and they had to offer a sacrifice, according to what was said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons. So they go to redeem their son. Mary goes to redeem the one who was born of her, and to be purified as a woman who has given birth, and this, of course, was connected to the Old Testament Levitical laws, the so-called redemption of the first-born, but when Jesus is brought there, Simeon and Anna show up, there is a meeting of old Elder Simeon and the old prophetess, Anna, and it says, “And coming up at that very hour, she gave thanks to God and she spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” You have, not only in the first chapter of Luke, John the Baptist’s father claiming that in Jesus, God is visiting and redeeming his people, and you have Anna saying that this is the one who is coming for the redemption of Jerusalem, that He is going to come to enact the redemption, that He is going to make the ransom, He is going to deliver the people.
You have these expressions all the time in the New Testament. I will just give you another example: In the letter to the Romans, you have St. Paul writing in the third chapter, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it. The righteousness of God, though faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe, for there is no distinction (he means between Jew and gentile) since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, though the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation (RSV says expiation, King James version says propitiation, but that word is a technical term, [18:05 s/l elasmos], that He is the redemption, or the ransom, or the expiation),” and then it says, “by his blood, to be received by faith.” The actual redeeming, the actual buying back, the actual redemption and ransom, is done, according to St. Paul, by the blood of Jesus, by his very blood.
You have that in the other letters of St. Paul also. He says in Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are not your own, that you have been purchased by God through the very blood of Jesus, himself, who is the one through whom God redeems you, who is the agent of redemption, the very redemption, itself?”
You have this expression in the 6th chapter of First Corinthians: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you which you have from God? You are not your own. You are bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” And then it also says that we are bought by the precious blood of Christ. And that blood stands for his life. He buys with his blood, He purchases with his blood, ransoms with his blood. And then that is an [19:24 s/l antilitron]. It is the redeeming act by which we are then delivered and saved.
Of course, also in the New Testament, you have a text by Christ Jesus, himself, that is very often quoted. It is in Matthew 20, and it is in Mark 10, when James and John are asking Jesus if they can sit on the thrones with him in his kingdom. In Matthew’s version, actually, it is their mother who asks this. Then Jesus asks them, “Can you drink the cup that I drink? Can you be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” Which means can you die with me, can you suffer with me? And they said, we can, and He said you will, but He says, the reigning is for those for whom it is prepared. And then Jesus kind of rebukes them for thinking this way. “You know that the rulers of the gentiles Lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man has come, not to be served, but to serve,” and then here you have these words, “and to give his life.” Life is a synonym of blood, you have blood used, but here it says life, “and to give his life (or his soul, even) as a ransom for many.” Ransom is [20:55 s/l litron] in Greek, and many means “for everyone.” It is like at the supper when He says that the bread and the wine are given for you and for many, it means the multitude, it means everyone.
So it is very clearly established, you cannot doubt it, as Christian people, that God redeems his people. He ransoms his people, He delivers his people, He releases his people, He liberates his people, He saves his people, and He does so through his suffering servant, who is the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who is the redeemer, and the redemption. Here again, you have a biblical pattern, because Jesus is not only the teacher, but he is the perfect disciple. He is not only the great high priest who offers the perfect sacrifice, but He is the perfect sacrifice. He is not only the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, but He is the sheep, He is the lamb of God who is sacrificed. He is not only the King who rules over all, He is the suffering servant, He is the slave. So you have these antinomies, you have these paradoxes about Jesus, and they certainly apply in the issue of redemption, because He is the redeemer, who does the act of redemption, but He is also the redemption, itself, and He is also the price of redemption. He redeems by his own blood, by his own life. He affects redemption as the redeemer by being that which does the very act of redemption, itself.
What does all this mean? What kind of language is that? Purchase, buy, acquire as ransom, pay the price, bought with a price, redeemed by the blood, ransomed by the blood, delivered by the death of Jesus, and so on – what does all that mean? What it means, very simply, is what it actually says, that in Jesus’ act of self-offering, involuntary sacrifice on the cross, offering up his own body to be broken, his blood to be shed, to God, his father, by a perfect act of love and obedience to God for the sake of redeeming the people, that particular action does affect the redemption. It saves and redeems the people. But then the question would be: Saves and redeems them from what? And of course, for what? When we spoke about Jesus as the savior, and perhaps we might have done better to speak about redeemer when we spoke about savior, because they are almost synonymous, or you can put it this way: He saves by redeeming, that the salvation, itself, is a redemption, it is a buying back. But the question still remains – released from what? Bought back from what? What is holding us?
Here, several things are important to be said. One is that we are not redeemed from God, because it is not God who is holding us. We do not have to be released from God. We do not have to be released from punishment under the law or something like this, because that is not what it is all about. When St. Gregory the Theologian, for example, in his paschal homily, says that we are bought with a price, he asks the question, “To whom is the price paid?” Some people say, well, He offered himself as a price to God. But Gregory the Theologian says, “This is nonsensical, it is not God who is holding us.” Well, then, the explanation emerged, “Well, we are redeemed from the devil,” that it is the devil who is holding us, that by sinning we gave ourselves over to the devil and the devil now owns us because of our sin. Therefore, the devil has to be paid off. So God sends his son and He gives his son to the devil as a payment so that the devil could let us go, that we could be released.
It would be sort of like in an old-fashioned cowboy movie that I used to see when I was a child: The bad guys are holding the beautiful lady, and then the savior figure shows up, the good cowboy with the white hat, and he says to the bad guys, “Let her go, take me in her place.” So there is an exchange taking place, and she is redeemed by his body. Or sometimes it can be even a payment. “I will give you 1000 dollars, I will give you a million dollars if you let her go.” So you pay the price for the victim to be set free.
Then there was the idea, “Well it is the devil who is holding us, and therefore we have to be ransomed from the devil.” Gregory the Theologian, in that same homily, says, in the old English translation, “Fie upon the outrage.” That would be outrageous. He said, “The devil is not holding us justly. He tricked us, he deceived us. He is a deceiver.” Well, maybe God can send his son in the form of a man and be crucified on the cross and deceive the devil, mock the devil, the devil could think that he got him, but he didn’t get him, because as St. John Chrysostom’s paschal homily says, “The devil grasped him, and he met God face to face.” The devil was tricked, as we sing on Great Friday in church. The deceiver is deceived, and by being deceived, we are liberated, we are set free, we are released. But Gregory the Theologian says, we should not think that God redeems us from the devil in the sense that He gives Christ to the devil as a payment for us. The devil has no rights over us. He tricked us, he lied to us, he is a deceiver, he is an accuser, he is a liar from the beginning. God cannot traffic with the devil on that level, that is ridiculous.
But then Gregory the Theologian says, “Well, then how do we understand this language of ransom, redemption, purchase, bought with his blood? What can all that mean?” Basically, he gives the same answer that St. Basil the Great gave, and actually it was an answer that Origen gave, some Protestants don’t like that because Origen has a bad reputation, but in any case, for us Orthodox Christians, wherever it comes from, the answer is very clear. It is in our divine liturgy of St. Basil the Great, which we serve during this Lenten season, we serve it 10 times a year, in the liturgy of St. Basil the Great, it says it very, very clearly. It says that God sent his Son, the suffering servant, to be crucified. And it says, “And He gave himself as a ransom unto death, by which we were held captive, sold under sin.” So the claim is that we are ransomed from death, which is the wages of sin, so that we are ransomed from the effect of our own sinfulness, which makes us mortal and makes us die.
St. Leo the Great, the pope of Rome, in his 28th letter, the famous tome of Leo to the Council of Chalcedon, said that Jesus is our redeemer because He pays the debt to our condition. That is a wonderful expression, I like that very much, because our condition is cursed, sinful and dead. We are under our own curse, we are under the curse of the law because we are sinners, and according to the law we deserve to die, and the ontological law is that, as a matter of fact, we do die. We are under the law of sin and death, as St. Paul would say in the letter to the Romans, that law is inexorable, it works no matter what. Even if we are born into the world and haven’t committed one sin yet ourselves, we are already in a sinful condition, and we already die. In that sense we are in the hands of the devil, because it is a kind of a package plan. There is sin, there is death, and there is the devil, and the devil is the one who is instigating the sin. He is the liar, he is the destroyer, and when we are dead, it is even said that we are held captive by the devil. We have to be released from the devil in a condition by which we, ourselves, are held.
If we wanted to sum this up as simply as we could for now, we could put it this way: Jesus is our redeemer, or more accurately, more biblically, God redeems us through Christ, whom he makes our redeemer and our ransomer, and our very redemption, through his death on the cross, because in that death, we are delivered, we are released, we are liberated, we are set free, from everything that enslaves us. We are liberated from everything that destroys us. We are liberated, released, ransomed, set free, from everything that binds us, that hold us, that enchains us. That is the teaching, that is what it means. We are captive people.
We could even say, if we wanted to make a list, I made a little list here, if we say that we are released and ransomed by the death of Jesus, from everything that holds us, we could say, first of all, we are released from the vain imaginations of our own hearts and minds. That is what the prayer after communion says in church. “Release us from the slavery of our own vain imaginations.” We are enslaved by our own minds. We are enslaved by our own wills. We are enslaved by our own passions, our own emotions. We are enslaved by our generation. We are enslaved by our DNA. We are enslaved by the humanity that we have received from our fathers and mothers, from our forebears. All this is holding us. All this is binding us. All this is enslaving us, against every our wills in some way. But then, again, as the Scriptures and the saints say, we then even add our own will to it. We sin ourselves. We deceive ourselves. We delude ourselves. We make up an old version of ourselves. We are caught by our own egos. We are held by all these things. And therefore we have to be saved from them. We have to be liberated from them. The price has to be paid to get us free from them.
And then, of course, in addition to that, as we already said, the sin of the world holds us. Our own sins hold us. The sins of other people hold us. So we are captivated by the evil, by the lies. We could say, in our time, we even have to be delivered and ransomed from our enslavement to T.V., to [pornea], to sex, alcohol, drugs, food, all these things that bind us, that hold us, and do not let us really live a free life. We are chained by them, we are held. Something has to happen that can set us free, that can release us.
And then, of course, the devil and death. Certainly we are enslaved by death, and our condition is mortality—sinful, cursed, mortality. That is what the condition of human beings is. Jesus, according to St. Paul, becomes sin for us, so He takes our place as the sinner. He is cursed for us. He is even cursed according to Mosaic law, because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs upon the tree of the cross.” He is cursed because He is put to death in mid life by the hands of gentiles. He identifies with us completely. He takes our place, as it were. That is the truth of the substitution theory. He puts himself in our place. He says, “Take me.” But when darkness takes him, as light, then the darkness is destroyed and we are delivered from the darkness. When evil takes him who is perfect righteousness, because we are ransomed by his righteousness, not by his being punished, but by his righteousness. When unrighteousness is trying to grasp righteousness, then it is the unrighteousness that is destroyed. When ugliness encounters beauty, the beauty delivers us from the ugliness, it frees us from the ugliness, it destroys the ugliness. When anything impure is in contact with the pure, then the pure is victorious. So the teaching would be that with Jesus putting himself in our place, when life itself dies, it is death that is destroyed. We are delivered from death by his life, from sin by his righteousness, from our state of being cursed by his blessedness. This is the blessed exchange. This is the teaching in Scripture.
It really is a cost, it is a price, it is the greatest price that can ever be imagined. The blood of the Son of God in human flesh is necessary for this to happen. Why? Because as the psalms say over and again, what can we given in the redemption for our own life? We have nothing to give, we are totally caught. What can we do to save ourselves? We cannot do anything to save ourselves. We need a savior. We need a redeemer. Someone else is going to have to do it, because we are caught completely, by our own madness, our insanity, our disease, our sickness, our death. We are just caught, that is all. We cannot get out of it ourselves. Someone has to come and do it.
But in doing it, it is a sacrifice. It is an offering. It is costly. It requires his suffering. It requires his putting himself in our condition, so that we can be released and liberated by him. He has to become our advocate. We spoke about that already. He has to be the expiation for our sin, the propitiation, the one who makes everything right. And thereby, we can be justly released. We are liberated. That is how we understand Jesus as our redeemer, that He buys us with his blood, He pays the price that is necessary for us to be set free, which is his own life. He puts himself in our enslaved condition, so that by undergoing that enslavement, himself, voluntarily, not being a sinner, we could be liberated by his righteousness. And so, when He dies, and allows himself to be captivated by death, then we are sprung. We are let loose. We are let go. But then, what happens is, that death itself is destroyed. All that enslaves us is destroyed. All the sin is erased, all the handwriting against us.
There was a song in the church service on the Weekend of the Cross, during the Great Lenten season, where it says that God took his Son like a pen and He dipped him in the blood like ink, and then He wrote our release, He wrote our redemption papers, He wrote our ransom in his own blood, so that when He affected that act, all the sins against us were torn up, the handwriting against us, as St. Paul said, was ripped up, and it no longer held, actually, it no longer was in force, because what was necessary to destroy its force was accomplished. Our condition was satisfied, so to speak. Our condition was given what it required for our release, for our redemption. And what it was given was the very life of the Son of God, himself, and that is why He is our redemption, our salvation, our sanctification. That is the teaching of the Holy Scripture.
This is how we understand Jesus as our redeemer, and as Job said a long time ago, we know that our redeemer lives (Job 19:25). Our redeemer who lives is the Christ who was dead, because once “He gave himself as a ransom unto death, by which we were held captive,” as the Liturgy of St. Basil said. He descended into Hades, and in Hades, He released all those who were held there, captivated and enslaved by death and by the power of the devil, and He raised us all up, by doing everything that was necessary to ransom us, to affect our freedom, to pay the debt. This is what He does.
So among all the names and titles of Jesus, we have to add to Savior, to Healer, to Advocate, to Lord, to Life, to all those names: Jesus our Redeemer, and our Redemption. Because it is in and through him that we are delivered from everything that binds us, everything ugly and ungodly and evil that holds us, beginning with our own minds, our own hearts.
The Scripture says that whatever binds us is sin. We are captivated by it. We have to be set free from it. But once we have sold ourselves to sin, and die, we have to have a redeemer. Someone has to come pay the price and ransom us, and that one who has done that, and is himself the ransom price, is our Lord, and God, and Savior, Jesus Christ, Mary’s son, who was the only begotten Son of God, who became man in order to pay the price for our redemption.
"It keeps me tethered to my newfound faith when I am not at church. As a choir member, it keeps my mind on the music of the liturgy."