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Redemption at the Cross

Redemption means “to purchase or buy back.” In Hebrew, this word designates a process by which something alienated may be recovered for its original owner by paying a sum of money. In New Testament times, this typically referred to slaves being bought back.

Spiritually speaking, redemption carries great significance. Although God was our original owner, rebellion alienated humanity from Him. Every person is born as a slave to sin and needs to be purchased for freedom. The word redemption indicates how the debt was paid and the account settled.

  • What has the power to redeem us (1 Peter 1:18-19)? 
  • Why might this concept have been an unusual one for the early church to grasp, given how the word redemption was typically used?


1. The Historical Background

The entire Bible can be summed up as a story of God’s redeeming love.

  • After Adam and Eve sinned, they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves (Gen. 3:7). But God did not want humans to redeem themselves through their own efforts. What kind of clothing did He provide
    (Gen. 3:21)?


Note that in order to supply this covering, God had to kill an animal. Biblical scholars consider this the first blood sacrifice.

Another important sacrifice took place at the first Passover, just before God miraculously delivered His people out of bondage to the Egyptians.

  • What did the Israelites have to do to protect their first-born sons from being slain by the angel of death (Ex. 12:7, 13)?


After the Israelites were delivered through the Red Sea, God gave Moses the rituals of worship described in the book of Leviticus. Animals offered as payment for sin needed to be without blemish—this perfection represented holiness. Almost every sacrifice included the sprinkling or smearing of blood, teaching that redemption involves life for life.

  • Read Leviticus 4:22-26. This passage describes how a leader who had sinned unintentionally could be forgiven. Briefly describe requirements for this particular ritual. 

2. Paying Our Sin Debt

The Old Testament foretold and illustrated redemption in a figurative way, but the New Testament boldly tells of the One who purchased our redemption.


The blood of goats and sheep merely covered sin; the blood of Jesus removed it completely.

  • When Christ said, “It is finished!” from the cross (John 19:30), He used the same term that means “paid in full”—the word stamped across bills to indicate that payment had been made. Explain how this statement relates to our redemption. 
  • According to Hebrews 7:24-28, what are some ways that Christ differs from human high priests?


Why was a ransom necessary? Throughout church history, several views have been held. One is that Christ’s death was payment to the Devil since it redeemed those held captive by Satan. But God owes the Evil One nothing. The necessity for redemption came from the Father Himself, by virtue of His just nature. His holiness not only required the ransom, but paid it as well.

Another view is that the cross was an exhibition of divine love and its effect was only a moral one. Its purpose merely served to woo sinners. However, if God wanted simply to impress us with the cross, He surely would have devised a way that would not have involved the agonizing crucifixion of His Son.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:20-21.

  • Because Christ became sin for us, what do we now have (v. 21)? 
  • Now that we have been forgiven, how should we view ourselves in relation to those who don’t know the Lord (v. 20)?


3. Application

Sometimes after a team wins, fans will say, “Our team redeemed themselves today.” In other words, the team had been performing poorly, and they balanced the score card by doing better.

Spiritually speaking, it doesn’t work the same way. No matter how much good we do, we still fall short. Apart from Christ, every one of us owes a sin debt that we can’t repay on our own.

  • If redemption is not something we can earn, how do we receive it (Eph. 2:8-9)? 
  • The children of Israel were told to celebrate their redemption (Ex. 12:47Ps. 107:2). In what ways are you grateful for your salvation? How can you celebrate that today?


Closing: When looking at redemption as a gift of God, we can only be humbled at the price of such a gift. Free to all? Yes, free for the taking. But the cost was immeasurable. Christ paid for our redemption at the cross, and our works have nothing to do with it.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the gift of redemption. I am so grateful that Your Son took the punishment I deserved for my sin. Enable me to walk in the light of Your forgiveness and become all that You desire me to be. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Adapted from “Charles F. Stanley’s Handbook for Christian Living” (2008).

(Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.)