Redemption is a wonderfully miraculous thing. It is about being saved. Through redemption debt’s are clear. We regain something that is lost. I want to share with you a story. My story. I grew up in Columbia City. When I was in the fourth grade my Dad took a job in Huntington. School had already started but he moved the family there. Several months later we would find ourselves back in Columbia City living at Park Terrace without Dad. Dad made some errors in judgement. I spent the majority of my childhood trying to find my place that made sense. Over time the confusion of a young man turned to anger. It would take nineteen years to work through the hurt and pain. During that period of time there were extended periods of estrangement. Time and the Holy Spirit would open the door to the beginning stages of healing.
Acts 8:1-3 And on that day a great persecution [a]began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. 3 But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.
Saul would spend a great deal of time persecuting the Christians. He would have listened to follower after follower timidly approach the judges. I imagine he would have noted how the strength in voices changed as they began to expound on the teachings of Christ. They couldn’t all be stoned. The Romans wouldn’t allow it. They would have to be flogged in the square. This was something worse than death for Jewish men. The shame alone would have been enough to kill them. I image that Saul would have looked at them curiously as these followers of Christ appeared almost happy to be horse whipped for standing up for Christ.
Acts 9:1-19 Now [a]Saul, still breathing [b]threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” 7 The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the [c]voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he [d]could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, 12 and he has seen [e]in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your [f]saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen [g]instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened.
Here we have a man who was quite literally searching house by house in hopes of jailing Christians. Jails were not meant to be permanent solutions. Most likely those being held were awaiting a trial. Due process was not something actively practiced at this time. If Christians were held in here they were most likely awaiting a trial followed by an execution. Although it was meant to be temporary jails were still not pleasant places to be. They didn’t have places to go to the bathroom. There wasn’t clean running water. I would not have expected humane treatment of prisoners. Saul was responsible for sending people to a horrible end.
I love this scripture. I have referenced it before. Saul has his “road to Damascus” moment. It is redemption at its best. You have the poster child for someone who should not be worthy, yet he is. His sins were not so great that he was unredeemable.
Luke 15:11-32 11 And He said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his [d]wealth between them. 13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 So he went and [e]hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the [f]pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17 But when he came to [g]his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and [h]in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20 So he got up and came to [i]his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and [j]embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never [k]neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your [l]wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you [m]have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”
Jesus gives us another example of what true redemption is like. He is telegraphing what will be the greatest single act of redemption. The son was worthy of redemption. The father welcomed him home with open arms.
I have experienced redemption, I have extended grace and forgiveness to allow others experience redemption. The angry young man that I spoke about is gone. Even this weekend, I witnessed years of hurt and frustration be washed away by the simple acknowledgement that God is bigger than all our petty problems, God is bigger than our hurt, he’s bigger than our pain. If we will allow Him, He can make something new out of us.
Redemption is a wonderfully miraculous thing. It is about being saved. Through redemption debts are cleared. We regain something that is lost.