Just taking in a few new articles before we run out to church, I thought I would do a quick search on the news page for stories on redemption. It was an interesting search.
There were a couple of novels noted where redemption pays a key part in the story (at least the characters seeking redemption – noted in Steven Heighton’s latest novel, “Every Lost Country” http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Seeking+redemption+high/3177699/story.html; and in Jennifer Egan’s new book, “A Visit from the Goon Squad,’’ where the main character Sasha
According to the book review’s author, Jessica Treadway, “During and between sessions with her therapist, (Egan’s main character Sasha) resolves to change: ‘Redemption, transformation — God how she wanted those things. Every day, every minute. Didn’t everyone?’ According to Treadway, “Egan makes palpable Sasha’s desperation, her shame, and her desire to change her destructive actions, and she does a masterful job of piquing our sympathy and our curiosity about whether this character will achieve her goal.” (As noted in the review – http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2010/06/20/a_fresh_take_on_style_but_dealing_with_timeless_concerns/). People do seem to “want to make things right.” However, we need someone to restore us to our rightful place on this “road to redemption,” and direct us on the way. I wish I could change myself, and I think like Sasha a lot of people want the same. But we cannot change ourselves. Apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and Paul the Apostle says in 1 Corinthians, we remain dead in our sins and all hope is lost. But Christ is risen, and redemption is available, for you and for me.
More news – now I find the seemingly requisite sports stories where some one is seeking redemption. The sports world seems particularly inclined to offers its heroes the chance at redemption. Over the past few months we have heard of redemption mentioned for the tarnished image of golfing great Tiger Woods (there was a story on Tiger’s redemption on the golf course only yesterday – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100621/jsp/sports/story_12588288.jsp) ; also the continually rebuilding Philadelphia Flyers on their way to the Stanley Cup finals (specifically their goaltender – http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/news_details/article/117/2010/june/09/leighton-again-looks-for-redemption-1.html).
Here is a positive sports story with redemption as a lead heading. http://www.thenews-messenger.com/article/20100619/HSSPORTS/6190317/Redemption-complete. In this story a troubled young man found that a focus on excelling in sports would help him stay out of trouble in other things. Perhaps it was not the sports but the demonstration of compassion by a coach who paid attention to this frustrated and disgruntled young man and sought to accentuate the young man’s talents by pouring himself into him.
There are two complementary themes to redemption in the New Testament: the release from enslavement and the payment of a price for that release (Palma, 1993). In the New Testament there are three Greek words from two root words used to represent redemption (MacArthur, 2005).
The first Greek words come from the same root word – “agorazo” and its compound form – “exagorazo.” Both those words are translated “redemption” in the New Testament. In usage – “But false teachers also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought (agorazo) them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Pet. 2:1). The Greek word, “agorazo” means to buy, to purchase, or to acquire ownership by payment of a price. This is a common word in the Greek, yet it is also one of the great words in Scripture used to describe a believer’s redemption by Jesus Christ.
There was also redemption in the mind of one writer when covering the Duke men’s lacrosse team (http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/02/511338/devils-find-redemption-in-title.html). The men’s lacrosse team was mired in controversy back in 2006 when three members of the team were accused of rape (the charges were later dropped). The men’s lacrosse team season was canceled that year.
The other Greek word used in the New Testament for redemption is “lutroo/apolutrosis.” In usage – “In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7). The Greek word translated “redemption” here in Ephesians 1:7 (apolutrosis) is an intensified form of lutroo, which refers to paying a price to free someone from bondage. The Duke men’s lacrosse team certainly paid a price for these false charges. Although a good human interest story, and a tale of right overcoming wrong treatment, in one sense the team itself took upon themselves the guilt borne by the three men and struggled to not only fight back after the debilitating charges were made, but prove their emotional and mental toughness by sticking together, not transferring to other schools but working hard and finally achieving their goal. Duke this year won the national championship in men’s lacrosse.
The news about redemption is great. Where bondage is removed and the individual is restored into their position of freedom, joy is embraced in the arms of the Redeemer. It’s a beautiful thing.