Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Redemption

1 Corinthians 6:19-20Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.”


I read another article by Pastor Burk Parsons where he writes of the back-story symbolism of Victor Hugo’s classic work Les Miserables. I’ve not seen the Broadway production … yet, but have seen one of the older motion picture on DVD on the tale of criminal Jean Valjean released from prison and finds refuge at a bishop’s home, but instead of returning the bishop’s kindness, Valjean steals his silver, strikes him, and flees in the night. After Valjean is caught by the arresting officer, who represents “The Law” of the Bible, he brings Valjean before the bruised bishop to press charges. The bishop, representing “God”, affirms not only that he knows Valjean but alleges he gave Valjean the silver and asks Valjean why he didn’t take the candlestick as well. Though Valjean is clearly guilty, the authorities release him upon hearing the bishops trusted declaration. The bishop then utters the unforgettable words: “Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy from you; I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, I give it to God.” Valjean was a new man whose life had been purchased at the cost of another.  
John 8:11b “Go and sin no more.”

Though Hugo metaphoric parable is not without theological and sociopolitical problems, Pastor Parsons points out that this scene beautifully depicts the gospel message of a guilty man who was declared just and thereupon set free to a life of mercy for all the miserable ones whose path he crossed. Valjean’s soul was redeemed and given to God for a future life of selfless serve. The gracious act of redemption paves the way for a life of good works. Though sin leaves us all overwhelmingly deficient, Scripture takes us to an entirely different level as God reveals that all who trust Christ are already redeemed while awaiting the resurrection yet to come. In Jesus Christ, Immanuel – “God with us”, He came to us as God incarnate (God in the flesh – God with skin on), dwelling among us to live for us and die for us that we might live in Him and die to self unto life abundant and eternal. This is what Christmas is all about and celebrated. IF we trust the One who was bruised of us and our inequities, then we have already died in Him, and we are already redeemed for eternity, which is not yet reality to us in the real space and time this side of heaven, but is nonetheless a reality to God. For those He declared just He has also glorified.

Romans 8:28-31 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknow he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among the brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He justified, He also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Jesus paid a debt that He did not owe, because we owed a debt that we could not pay, so live for Christ. God has justified us in Jesus Christ that we might glorify and enjoy Him forever, living before the face of God. He sees the end from the beginning, and in His immutable decree, our future is certain. Praise be to God and our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas, Brian

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