[B19] The Price of Our Redemption

The prophets of old were preachers of righteousness, especially in times of indifference. They held up the demands of God’s Law. They denounced sin. They pictured in fiery eloquence God’s wrath against it, and pressed home in telling terms the consequences of sin unrepented of, and unpardoned. And then they came with God’s offer of forgiveness for all the truly penitent. They told of His desire for reconciliation, of the loving favor with which He would receive every one who came with penitence, confession, and faith. Turn ye, turn ye, from your wicked way, why will ye die? As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. This was the burden of the old prophets’ message.

Table of Contents

19. The Price Of Our Redemption

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. — [Phil.] 2:5—8.

The Spirit of the Lord [God] is upon me; because the [Lord] hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the [Lord], and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the [Lord], that he might be glorified. — [Isa. 61:1—3.]

We have been considering truths of the Second Article of the creed for a number of Sundays. To the present time, with the exception of the last one which, in a general way, looked forward to what is now to follow, all of our subjects dealt with the person of Christ. Some assert, and more act on the principle, that there is little profit in the study of such truths. Doctrine with many is in disfavor. They regard it as speculation. It may be abused in this way. But no one who knows God’s Word, and thinks but a little, can fail to see the importance of knowing who Jesus Christ is. If it was not important to know these truths God would not have gone to the trouble of revealing them to us. “All Scripture is profitable.” And no Scripture is more profitable than that which tells us what the nature is of our Lord and Savior. That part of the truth concerning the person of Jesus which tells us that He is the Son of the living God, as you will remember, He makes to be the very bedrock of the foundation on which stands the imperishable Church of God. To consider the work of Christ, whether it be the work which makes a Church possible, or His work in the building of the Church itself, without considering first His qualifications for this work, would be to hang a structure in the air, without a supporting foundation.

Our subject last Sunday dealt with the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In a general way only, we showed how He, the God-man, became our Lord, — by redeeming us. This brings us to the second general division of the second article, the office or work of Christ. Remembering that He was both God and man in one indivisible person, we are prepared to appreciate what He has done for us. We will consider, then, today

The Price of Our Redemption

I. Our Lord’s Life of Humility and Service

The Price of Our Redemption was, in part, the life of Humility and lowly Service of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God is full of direct statements concerning Christ’s humiliation, and of references to it; but nowhere is it more clearly, or emphatically, set forth than in the words of our text. It tells us how He, who was in the form of God, and on whose part it was no presumption to claim equality with God, made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant.

There are men who have princely office. And not a few of them strut and plume themselves because of it; forgetting that kings are to be servants to their brethren. Jesus Christ, when He became a man, though He was the branch of the royal line of noble David, assumed none of the ordinary airs of royalty. He humbled Himself. He bared His shoulders to be a burden-bearer, the world’s burden-bearer. He was obedient to the call of every needed form of service, even to that of death upon the cross.

The humiliation of Christ was not in the act of becoming man. That would be equivalent to saying that it was His Divine nature which was humiliated, which is not possible; for eternal God changeth not. That the eternal Son of God consented to unite Himself to a human nature was, indeed, a gracious act of loving condescension. But the humiliation consisted in this that as the God-man Jesus Christ did not, ordinarily, use the divine power and glory which was His. Because of the perfect union of the Divine and human natures in the oneness of His person Jesus Christ was entitled to use the attributes and prerogatives of Divinity also according to His human nature. But ordinarily He refrained from doing so during the days of His earthly ministry. This constituted His humiliation.

Remember, brethren, that the child born of the Virgin, and cradled in the manger, was the Son of God; remember that the child carried in the arms of a mother in flight from a jealous, cruel provincial king was the Son of God; remember that the youth reared in that humble Nazareth home, and by the bench of the village carpenter, was the Son of God; remember that the young man who walked the hills and dales of old Palestine, teaching in the Synagogues, pleading with publicans and sinners, mocked and persecuted by the leaders of the people, was the Son of God; remember that the scene on the mount of transfiguration, where the transcendent brightness of the person of Jesus, a brightness exceeding the brightness of even an eastern sun, was but the natural shining forth of that which belonged to Him also according to His human nature; remember the scene at the entrance of Gethsemane, where the steady, piercing gaze of Jesus’ eye, and the simple, but penetrating, words of His lips, struck to the ground His most conscienceless enemies; remember these things, and you have a conception of what the Bible means when it speaks of Christ’s humiliation.

Jesus did not cease to be God during the days of His earthly ministry. Being in the form of God, even during His earthly sojourn, it would have been no robbery to have shown forth His Godhead. But ordinarily He hid His Divine power and glory. Modestly, we might almost say by stealth, He used, as occasion demanded, the Divine attributes which were His constantly, and might have been used constantly.

You have read of kings who were really interested in finding out the true condition of their subjects. To accomplish this they doffed their royal raiment, put on peasant’s dress, and lived for a while among their people, sharing their humble fare. They were none the less kings while doing this than when they sat upon the throne. Indeed, when their motives were unselfish, they were never quite so kingly as when thus humbly but lovingly engaged. The King of kings is the One who left the Throne of thrones, and put on, not only the peasants’ dress, but the peasants’ very nature of flesh and blood, and shared all man’s experiences, sin alone excepted. And its curse He felt to the full extent.

What a conquest Jesus could have made had He allowed but a centesm of His power and glory to have shown forth in His earthly life. How gloriously He could have reigned. The powers of earth would have fawned at His feet. The wealth and honor of earth would have been at His disposal. No opposition could have stood in His way for a moment. The nations would have flocked to His standard. But so doing He would not have made the conquest He wanted to make, came into the world to make. The world would then have been unredeemed. He would then have had adulation, but not the homage of blood bought, blood washed, believing souls. He could have had an army here on earth, but He would never have brought an army of saints into heaven.

This latter was the very purpose for which He came down from heaven. It was to open the way back to heaven for all who would walk that way with Him, the thorny but heaven-kissed way of faith and loving service. So He hid the glory away in His own great spotless soul, and girded Himself to minister to the needs of mankind.

Let us think of what it must have meant for Jesus to live among men as He did. It was not the work He did considered merely as a work that was the burden. There is a dignity, a source of inspiration, an endless joy which big-souled people find in any kind of work, especially the kind which bears fruitage for good in the lives of others. Christ’s burden came from His own personal experience of the spiritual deadness, the narrow, parched, selfish, seared lives of those among whom He lived, and for whom He worked. We can imagine something of the feelings of overpowering disgust which would flood, like a spring freshet, the whole being of a person of culture and refined sensibilities, whose whole life had been spent amid healthful, congenial surroundings, if they were forced, for a season, to live in the filth and coarseness which exists in some of the human sties which abound. But no extremes of human life can be compared to the contrast between Christ’s life as it was in its own nature, and what He had to experience when He became our substitute, and the frailties and sins of the whole human family became His own daily personal experience.

And every step that Jesus took in His earthly Divine-human experience was part of the price He was paying for our redemption. From the very beginning He was the Lamb of God on whom was laid the sins of the world. Man’s cause was thoroughly, personally His own. Their needs, their utmost distress, was His own. Early in Jesus’ ministry, when He cast out the evil spirits, and healed the sick, the evangelist, to whom had been given the inner secrets of the Master’s life, declared that it was in fulfillment of the prophetic word:

“Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sickness” (St. Matt. 8:17).

Before Jesus ever came to Calvary He was the bearer of the cross. Before ever the nails were driven through His hands He was being crucified.

What reflections these thoughts ought to awake in us. What gratitude, what thankfulness they ought to call forth. What applications to our lives they suggest. All this sacrifice Jesus our Lord, the Son of God, made for us. What sacrifices are we willing to make for Him? Yea, what sacrifices are we willing to make that Christ’s work may be done in us? What have we really given up for Christ’s sake? how much of pride? of our own wills? How many burdens have we helped to carry, on how many errands have we gone, just for His dear sake? We can never repay the least of the price Jesus paid for us; but it ought to awake some gratitude, it ought to prompt to some thanksgiving, it ought to lead to some effort on our part to pass the blessings on to others.

II. Christ’s Active Ministry

A Distinctive Part of the Price of Our Redemption Was Further, Christ’s Active Ministry as Prophet, or Teacher of the Way of Salvation.

Christ’s work as the world’s distinctive prophet is embraced in what we have said of His life of lowly, loving service; but it deserves a special emphasis.

Early in Israel’s history it was made known to them that the promised Messiah was to be a prophet, raised up from among His brethren, who was to speak to them all which God commanded Him to speak. And in the words of our text, the prophet, who speaks for the Messiah, sets forth in glowing, comforting words the character and blessed result of Christ’s teaching office.

When Jesus entered on His active ministry He was soon recognized as the long promised prophet. You remember how early in His ministry when cautious Nicodemus came to Him by night, he did not hesitate to say,

“Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2).

After many of Christ’s miraculous manifestations of power and wisdom, the people either exclaimed, “Of a truth this is the prophet,” or questioned whether He might not be the promised prophet. And on that first Easter night, downhearted, discouraged, hopeless as were the disciples in view of what had befallen Christ, they still stoutly affirmed, He “was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19).

Who and what were the prophets of old? They were humble, earnest, active men. They were the watchmen whom God placed on the towers of His embattled fortress. They were God’s messengers, endued with His enlightening Spirit, sent forth to proclaim such message as God gave to them. They had to await God’s pleasure as to speech and action. And it is questionable whether they themselves always understood the full import of the messages they were given to deliver. How different was Christ as a prophet. He was the center of all that the mere human prophets had spoken. They told of a light, He was that Light. They were glimmering candles, He was the noon-day sun. The prophets before Jesus often spoke with warm and convincing power. Of Jesus it was said, never man spoke before as He spake.

The prophets of old were preachers of righteousness, especially in times of indifference. They held up the demands of God’s Law. They denounced sin. They pictured in fiery eloquence God’s wrath against it, and pressed home in telling terms the consequences of sin unrepented of, and unpardoned. And then they came with God’s offer of forgiveness for all the truly penitent. They told of His desire for reconciliation, of the loving favor with which He would receive every one who came with penitence, confession, and faith. Turn ye, turn ye, from your wicked way, why will ye die? As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. This was the burden of the old prophets’ message.

How superlatively great was Jesus Christ as a prophet in this sense. How He did preach righteousness, by precept and example. How transcendently beautiful and attractive He makes it appear. In contrast with His words and His life, how black, how devilish sin appears. Though personified love, Jesus depicted in withering, scorching terms the wrath of God against sin, and the absolute impossibility of any human being, by any devices of his own, escaping it. But all of this is but the surgeon’s knife, wounding because it is the only way to restore to health.

It is as the prophet of love, of mercy, of forgiveness, of blessedness that Jesus stands preeminent. The prophets of Israel mostly revealed a decided strain of severity. Their message was often predominately denunciatory. They at times impress us as if they spoke rather reluctantly any message of love, pardon, and peace. Occasionally a man like the great Gospel prophet, Isaiah, caught the vision, and breathed more of the Spirit of Divine love. And it was all because he had clearer vision of the nature and mission of Jesus Christ.

How dear to the heart of a sorrowing world is the picture of the teaching, preaching, ministering Christ. He was sent to preach good tidings, and what is life without it? He came to bind up the broken hearted, and how intolerable would be our misery without His alleviation? He came to give hope to the hopeless; to open the eyes of the spiritually blind; to speak the words which will stay the storms which rage and tear through our poor souls, and give in their place the spring-tide calm and reviving life.

What a prophet was Jesus! How eager to impart His message! And what was the heart of that message? The message of redemption, the fact that He was the world’s Redeemer, that He had come to reconcile all the world unto God by the sacrifice of Himself on the cross. This was the lowest rung of the ladder to which the Son of God descended in stooping to save mankind. In another sense, it was the highest reach of self-sacrificing love. Without it all else would have been in vain.

On Christ’s office as prophet and teacher rests the office of the Gospel ministry. Indeed, in the highest sense, the Gospel ministry is but a continuation of Christ’s prophetic office. He does His work, proclaims His truth, through the messengers who are faithful to Him. Jesus said to his immediate successors,

“As my Father hath sent me, so send I you.”
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
“And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

And the great Apostle Paul, including all his co-laborers in the blessed work of preaching the Gospel, declares:

“We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” In reality, then, our blessed Savior is still working among us as a prophet. Of every true preacher of the Gospel He says, “He that heareth you heareth me.”

Oh thou prophet of all prophets, touch our stammering tongues that we may all speak for Thee, and of Thee, as we should. And wherever the message of Divine truth is proclaimed, do Thou accompany it, and make the deaf to hear.

By God's grace, each week LutheranLibrary.org will present a new message on the basics of the Evangelical Christian Faith. Our guide is the Small Catechism, as expounded by Traditional Pastor Robert Golladay. May this series bless and inspire you.

Luther’s Small Catechism: Series B – The Apostles’ Creed

Publication Information

  • Author: “Golladay, Robert Emory”
  • Title: “The Apostles’ Creed”
  • Originally Published: 1917 by Lutheran Book Concern, Columbus, Ohio.
  • Lutheran Library Edition: 2020
  • Copyright: CC BY 4.0