“You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold, but [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah) like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 (AMP)
Interesting, the paradox of this week. First, Jesus rides into Jerusalem seated on a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 –
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9 (NRSV)
Then just a few short days later, Judas betrays Jesus and offers him up to the high priests for the equivalent of less money than it would take to fill up a Honda Accord.
Jesus freely gave His precious blood, that has value way beyond any material currency here on this earth, to redeem us from the conditions of sin and death that humanity put in motion to begin with.
Somehow, it seems like a rather raw exchange. Something in us wants to say, “Jesus, you got ripped off!”
There is a deep injustice here. Jesus was sinless, yet He had to endure the torture and death on the Cross? Crucifixion wasn’t really done in the neat and easy and clean way that medieval and Renaissance authors usually depict it. The artwork is aesthetically pleasing, but not terribly accurate. It’s a lot more bloody and dirty and nasty than the sanitized painting above. Mel Gibson had the gory details of Roman torture and crucifixion portrayed pretty closely in his movie The Passion of the Christ.
Unfortunately we are more like Judas than we want to admit. How often do we sell Jesus down the river for trivial things that have no eternal value? How often do we overlook or miss an opportunity to be a part of His Kingdom to do something else? How many times do we make decisions without thinking about whether or not our actions are pleasing to God?
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 (NRSV)
This statement Jesus makes is scary. We don’t acknowledge Jesus in everything we do 24/7, 365. Sometimes our behaviors and actions and the words we use betray our faith.
The good news is that (paradoxically) Jesus forgives us when we ask Him. He forgives us just for the asking, no matter how badly we have screwed up. We are not forgiven because we are such great people. Left to our own devices we end up like Judas- selling out Jesus for the most trivial and mundane of things, and sinning over and over and over again in spite of “knowing better.” Our salvation is made possible only by the greatness, love and mercy of Christ.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39 (NRSV)
We can thank God today that Jesus took the punishment that we deserve. We can pray that the Holy Spirit will help us live in response to His priceless gift of salvation.