Redeeming the Years
by Glenn Washburn
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“Inside our heads its pure Alice in Wonderland and the neuro-explorers now venturing down the brains rabbit holes are discovering all sorts of magic mushrooms. Current brain research may lead to cures for disorders ranging from diabetes and schizophrenia to the chronic inability to remember one’s Social Security number. They’re also bumping into electro-chemical Cheshire Cats. Indeed, we’re turning out to be more enchanted and complicated creatures than we ever knew.” Unknown
Research into this small four-pound organ is a complicated science. A National Science Foundation spokesman has said, “The brain is the most complex and functionally dense mass of matter known in the universe.” It has been compared to an iceberg; the tip or what is seen above the water is the conscious mind and the greater part or what lies submerged below the waves is the subconscious. God has entrusted us with the conscious or the will; where we choose, decide and determine actions. The subconscious is the dwelling of feelings and emotions, of forgotten dreams and vague memories, and infrequently read files of long-forgotten experiences and information. This is hidden territory. Many have attempted to journey there; but it is largely uncharted and journeys there have met with limited success and a library of erroneous descriptions of the landscape.
However, the subconscious affects the conscious; so as frightening and confusing a landscape as it may be; we need to journey there. However, not without a guide or we may become as confused as previous travelers to these “foreign” lands. Thankfully, this terrain is well-traveled by the Holy Spirit. If we will follow His directions we will be able to navigate this somewhat confusing landscape and become more familiar with this “hidden” and unpredictable land. For it is within this landscape, or more accurately “inner-scape”, that the seeds of redemption and forgiveness are first planted; this place of wishes yet to be fulfilled, of plans yet to be realized, of dreams, and of visions. And yes, it is also the place of remembered failures and forgotten hopes; of well-documented embarrassments and rejections; a complete and accurate catalogue of our “wasted years.” However, it is here were we discover that the transforming work of Jesus’ redemption has no limits and there is no part of our life it will not touch; empowering our present, securing our future and redeeming our past. It is here in the subconscious, the place that is spiritually referred to as “the heart”, the very core of our being; where new beginnings are manifested and “new creations” are forged.
But what exactly does it mean to be redeemed? The first and most common use of the word redeem is in the original Greek: agorazo (ag-or-ad-zo) from agora or market; to go to market, to purchase; specifically to redeem, buy.
"When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we BUY bread that these may eat?" (John 6:5)
"Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and BUY themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat." (Mark 6:36)
However, it is this most common and well-understood word for redeem that Jesus uses to explain redemption in Matthew 13; as does Paul in 1Corinthians 6 and 7:
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and BUYETH that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and BOUGHT it." (Matthew 13:44-46)
"For ye are BOUGHT with a (great) price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1Corinthians 6:20)
"Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are BOUGHT with a (great) price; be not ye the servants of men." (1Corinthians 7:20-23)
These latter verses would be readily understood in the ancient world; since there was a slave market operating somewhere every day. That Christ would walk into the slave market and purchase or redeem a slave from its “sin master” would be completely relatable to this audience.
However, it is not simply a matter of trading one master for another (albeit a much more loving One); something much more profound happens when Jesus purchases us. We can see the incredible beauty of this in the derivative of agorazo…exagorazo (ex-ag-or-ad-zo); to buy up or buy back, that is, to ransom; to rescue from loss; redeem. Paul expounds on his redemption teaching with this word in Galatians 4 and reveals the surprise destination for Christ’s slaves:
"But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to REDEEM them that were under the law, that we might receive the ADOPTION OF SONS."
And this is the true beauty of this word; we are not simply redeemed/bought in the market, we are bought out of the market! We have not been purchased for resale somewhere down the line; we have been removed from the market, never to be sold again. For example: a famous dealer in rare books and art frequently purchases an item in London for re-sale in the United States. However, when something is purchased for a museum, it is most often taken out of circulation permanently. The Shakespeare Folio, for instance, was bought and resold several times until it came to rest in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. Under the terms of the trust, it is to remain there permanently and never to be put into the market again.
When Jesus stepped into the slave market and paid our ransom; He did it once for all. It will never be repeated. The Lord bought us that we might be taken out of the market. This makes it possible to say with Paul:
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
But how is this possible? Here we are bedraggled, unwashed slaves, beaten, bruised and filthy with the sin of our master; and now we are to be adopted into a royal family? What exactly would warrant such an unlikely adoption; what possible value could we have? The answer to this question is revealed in another word: preiousios (per-ee-oo-see-os); being beyond usual; special; peculiar.
"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:14)
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light..." (1Peter 2:9)
The Latin root for this word, pecus, reflects a special-ness as well; however, not in the way that you might think. Pecus actually means: cattle or cows. When something had a great value it was said to be worth a lot of pecus…cattle. So we see that an article that was rare or valuable was peculiar…worth a great price.
However, our value is not intrinsic; it does not dwell within us. What makes us peculiar is not what we may be worth on the open market or in anybody’s estimation, but rather our worth has been determined by the great price that was paid to redeem us and buy us out of the marketplace. Our redemption cost nothing less than the death of Jesus Himself. And willingly did He meet that demand and pay that price. His resurrection was proof that the terms of His sacrifice were acceptable and the transaction was consummated.
The most beautiful analogy of this transaction can be found in Hosea’s story. Hosea is instructed by the Lord to marry a prostitute. This marriage will stand as an example of God’s relationship to an unfaithful Israel. However, this is not merely a marriage of convenience whose sole purpose is to instruct a wayward nation. It is said that John 3:16 is the most beautiful verse. However, I believe that Hosea 3:1 mounts an impressive challenge:
Once again the LORD spoke to me. And this time he said, "Hosea, fall in love with an unfaithful woman who has a lover. Do this to show that I love the people of Israel, even though they worship idols and enjoy the offering cakes made with fruit." (Hosea 3:1)
Hosea is instructed to not merely marry, but fall in love with a prostitute and not merely a prostitute, but a prostitute who currently has another lover. If there is another place in scripture that illustrates Jesus’ relationship to us in a more beautiful way, I haven’t read it. Read Hosea 3:1-3a:
Once again the LORD spoke to me. And this time he said, "Hosea, fall in love with an unfaithful woman who has a lover. Do this to show that I love the people of Israel, even though they worship idols and enjoy the offering cakes made with fruit." So I paid fifteen pieces of silver and about ten bushels of grain for such a woman. Then I said, "Now you are mine!" (Hosea 3:1-3a)
Jesus loves us and decides to enter into a relationship with us. He does this not in response to our love for Him (because there is none) but out of His love for us. He goes to the marketplace where we are standing naked before all the world and purchases us at a great price and we are His! The terms of the purchase are terms of love. He does not purchase us for our beauty or for pleasure. We are purchased to be saved out of the marketplace and be loved. Our job is to be faithful.
Then I said, "Now you are mine! You will have to remain faithful to me, no longer will you be a prostitute or lay with another man and I will be faithful to you." (Hosea 3:3)
Though we are unable to immediately appropriate the full intimacy that this marriage offers; it is promised and it will come. It is, indeed, the ultimate hope and goal of the covenant.
"Someday it will be impossible to count the people of Israel, because there will be as many of them as there are grains of sand along the seashore. They are now called Not My People, but in the future they will be called Children of the Living God." (Hosea 1:10)
Surely there is no greater love than this. The Lord has redeemed us and we are His purchased possession. However, His “ownership” is the love of a husband for his wife, the price was Himself and the purpose was that He might dwell in us and be revealed in and through us; so that He may be glorified and praised for His love, grace and mercy.
Our Lord went into the slave market where we were exposed naked to the gaze of the universe as slaves of sin and the lusts of the flesh and bought us with the price of His own life in order to take us out of the marketplace forever. He did this so that we might be a praise to the glory of His grace, exhibits of His eternal love, and delivered from sin. Our heavenly Father longs for us to see that our past can be restored. If you will allow Him, He will take what you considered “wasted years” and what Satan may perceive as a trophy of his work in the world and redeem and transform it so that it may be used to offer hope to those trapped in the same struggle, to give you an identity and a purpose, and to serve as a accurate measurement of His grace, faithfulness, and love. The soft clay of a sinful and damaged past in the hands of the Master Potter can be turned into a priceless chalice that the wine of the New Covenant can be poured into and out of…a vessel of restoration.
Go ahead, accept the invitation to "...be ye transformed…” and suddenly you may find that the strange and frightening world of your subconscious has been transformed into a paradise fit for a King.
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