As a child growing up in Oregon, I occasionally picked up discarded aluminum soda cans from the street, not at all because I wanted to recycle and save the planet, but simply because they offered a 5-cent redemption value. So if I scavenged enough of them, I could turn them in for a few dollars to save up for the next Lego set I wanted. My only understanding of redemption at that time was that I got a nickel for every can I redeemed. Redemption was not costly–in fact it was rather lucrative.
I’ve been studying Ephesians lately, with my family and in my community group, and Ephesians 1:7 speaks of redemption also: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…” Redemption in this Biblical understanding is very, very costly.
The Greek word translated “redemption” is a word that means “a releasing effected by payment of ransom.” In fact, “ransom” is the root word from which “redemption” originates. And “ransom” is a costly word. To ransom is to pay whatever is demanded in order to get back something (or someone) very valuable. A large sum of money is given by a desperate father to ransom his kidnapped child. The kidnapper knows that the child is so valuable to her father that he will hand over an exorbitant amount of money just to get her back safely.
The ransom that Ephesians 1:7 speaks of was the highest ransom ever paid. We as God’s beloved children were held captive in the slave market of sin, and the price demanded for our return was nothing less than the life-blood of the only begotten Son of God. The riches of God’s grace are beyond measure, and it was out of that great storehouse of grace that Jesus’ blood was shed to satisfy the price demanded in order to effect redemption for the sons and daughters of God. The fact that such an unthinkably high cost was paid in order to effect our release shows the immense value that God places on us as His beloved children.
My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace!