Rubel Shelly tells a true story about a fellow named Mark who possessed a passion for the guitar. He bought his first one in 1966 for $175, from the money made from a summer job before his Freshman year in High School. It was a red sunburst Gibson J-45. Mark said “(It) was my pride and joy, my most favorite thing in the world.”
Throughout Mark’s high school and college years his Gibson guitar was his “solace and companion.” He said it was better than medicine to calm his anxieties during times of stress. However, in 1978, some thieves broke into his business in Decatur, Alabama. Among the things they stole was his beloved guitar. While the police caught the thieves, the guitar was never recovered.
Fast forward to 2002. One day Mark is browsing through a guitar shop in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. And incredibly there it was! His Gibson J-45 guitar! It was advertised as a “vintage guitar” with an equally incredible price–$2,000!
Fortunately, Mark was able to get it back, “complete with the bumps and dings it had taken” in the ensuing 24 years! Thanks to the generosity of Mark’s mother who bought it for his birthday, he was able to retrieve what he had called his “most favorite thing in the world.”
Mark’s story perfectly illustrates our word of the week–“redemption.”
Redemption mean to purchase. To buy back. To set free. To rescue. Or to recover. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says it means, “to let one go free on receiving the price: a releasing effected by payment of ransom; redemption, deliverance, liberation procured by the payment of a ransom.” It was a word used for the price paid to set free a slave whose freedom had been bought by beneficent benefactor.
Like the slave, we have been captives of sin, serving Satan, and enslaved to basest instincts. Paul put it this way in Ephesians 2. We were “dead in trespasses in sins.” We were “the sons of disobedience.” We “conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Furthermore, we had “no hope” and were “without God in the world.”
Like Mark’s Gibson guitar, Satan, the thief, stole us away from God. By seducing us with sinful pleasures he seized us away from our Creator. He held us captive. He kept us away from our rightful Owner. He separated us from God’s “most favorite thing.”
But then something amazing happened. God’s grace, mercy and love purchased our freedom through Jesus Christ. And returned us to our rightful Owner! The Bible says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).
The writer of Romans was right. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (But we have been) justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24)
You may have been separated from God for 24 years. Or longer! You may have suffered nicks and dings and scars to your soul. But it doesn’t matter! God loves you. He has a passion for you. And Jesus has paid the price for your redemption!
Redeemed–how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman