Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:17-19).
Redemption is a word that means “to buy back in order to set free.” It’s very essential to Christian understanding. Sometimes I’m told it’s one of those Christian “long words,” but … I think most people have a sense of redemption’s meaning, just as most people have “redeemed” a coupon, or just as most people have a sense of what “slavery” or “racism” means. Redemption is of great value to all who have pained or attacked, insulted or wrongly indicted, hurt or harmed others in their lives. We ourselves have naturally wandered into prison of conscience and condemnation by our own sin. So redemption is essential to anyone who made mistakes, misdeeds, or simply been a sinner.
However, redemption came to us not by silver or gold. Those are precious here, but not there. The world’s most expensive gemstone is rumored to be $71.2 million, 59.6 carat pink star diamond. It is so called because it is pink and it is a diamond. But it’s only precious here, not there. Earthly currency? Precious here, not there. Athletics and sports? Precious here, not there. Followers and fans online? Precious here, not there. Academic titles and degrees? Precious here, not there. Human enemies and natural disasters? All are only precious or of value and importance here, not there.
Expensive things there, at home with God, are imperishable things. Those are things that never die out, things that always last. Our faith in Jesus Christ alone is precious there. Our love for the lost and for one another is precious there. Our hope that remains steady even in the winds and waves of the world is precious there. Peter says that all these imperishable things are built on Jesus’ blood.
Jesus’ blood? Whut.
Yes, the precious blood of Christ is of high-value currency for us strangers. It’s not that we wear a vial of his blood around our neck, but the literal spilling of his blood on the ground for us. The true man who was also true God spiked and splintered to the cross bled for us on the cross. The God of the cross is not the god of success or importance in this world. He is the Lamb of God, the Lamb of Passover qualities. He is the worthy one to satisfy the Law of God as well as the threats of his enemies. So precious there, even if we ever devalued it here. So precious for strangers here, yet not for those who are at home here.
Why? Because this world is as saturated with sin and sin’s effects as ever. We can’t be at home here, not if we are convinced of what we believe. We will always have a longing and a hope for what is to come. But if the blood of Jesus is physically a secure historical fact, our hope is sure and our longing is without any doubt. Our patience is increased and God gives us the strength to overcome our challenges and hardships in this life.
My favorite description of redemption doesn’t even seem to use the word in context:
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Tom Taylor was a man who lived over a hundred years ago and knew that redemption without a doubt. As he died of consumption at age 28, Tom coughed up his own blood. Still, in his dying illness at such a young age, he wrote a hymn which expressed his faith in the blood of Jesus.
“I’m but a stranger here; heav’n is my home. Earth is a desert drear; heav’n is my home.
Danger and sorrow stand round me on every hand. Heav’n is my fatherland, heav’n is my home.” (CW 417)
Tom Taylor sure knew God found him precious. Despite his disease and the brevity of his life, he knew Jesus found sinners precious — that he would pour out his precious blood for them, pour out his precious baptismal waters for them, pour out his precious Word like consequential rainwater on them. In fact, that pouring out of Jesus set Tom Taylor free to live and die, to truly rest in peace. All believers can have that confidence perfectly, powerfully, preciously, by faith in Jesus alone.
Be a stranger here. Be at home with God there.
Have faith here. Have hope for a future there.
Fight sin here. Find rest in Jesus there.
Thanks for reading!
– Pastor Seth Bode