A Story of Redemption
We all like a good story of redemption. Everyone, we say, ought to be allowed a chance at “redemption.”
This recent headline caught my attention, Can Mel Gibson Find Redemption with ‘Hacksaw Ridge?’ Over a decade ago, Gibson fell out of favor in Hollywood because of a drunken anti-Semitic rant one night in Malibu. Confessing to Stephen Colbert, Gibson recently said of this “rough patch,” that it was not “his proudest moment.” As a result of his actions, Gibson was mostly shunned by Hollywood for nearly a decade.
This year, however, talk of Gibson’s “redemption” emerged due to the success of his film Hacksaw Ridge. This inspiring movie tells of the bravery of a World War II medic who singlehandedly rescued nearly 75 soldiers in spite of his refusal to carry a weapon into battle because of his pacifist convictions. This film was nominated for best picture and Gibson was nominated for best director. Consequently, headline after headline spoke of Mel Gibson’s “redemption” among Hollywood’s elite.
In the Bible, the word “redemption” is a word closely tied to the cross. But unlike these common everyday stories of redemption, the cross reminds us that the word redemption comes with the idea of a cost. Fleming Rutledge says, “When the theme is applied to the work of Christ, however, all sentimentality falls away as we contemplate the cost.”
The ultimate price for redemption is the crucifixion of Jesus. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:20, “you were bought with a price.” Peter says in 1 Peter 1:18-19 that we were ransomed “not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” And of course, Jesus said of himself in Mark 10:45 that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Rutledge writes that “the human predicament is so dire that it cannot be remedied in any ordinary way.” In other words, redemption does not come by simply turning your life around or by compensating for some “bad” action with something that might be considered “good.” This Rutledge says, does not take into consideration “the great weight of sin.”
True redemption comes with a cost. The price is not cheap. Jesus himself is the price of our redemption. Every true story of redemption passes through the cross of Jesus. Our “turnaround” story starts at the cross. It is here where we are set loose from the bondage of sin. It is here where the ultimate price is paid for our sin.
We all like a good story of redemption. And we do. Everyone, we say, ought to be allowed a chance at “redemption.” And you are. But there is no redemption apart from the cross.
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