A couple were moving house, and some things just had to be parted with. Going through the loft, the wife came across some old sports trophies belonging to her husband. As he’d told her to exercise her discretion, she chose a few of the classier ones to keep, and sent the rest to the charity shop. When he came home, and heard what she’d done, he checked the ones she’d chosen to keep, picked out the best, a beautiful silver one, and headed off to the charity shop himself. There, he persuaded the staff to let him search through the boxes and boxes of donations until he found the one battered, cheap, but precious trophy he’d searched for. “Please take this one instead,” he requested. “It’s solid silver, and quite rare and valuable.” The staff member was delighted. “The one you want to keep, we were only going to send it to the scrap metal merchant anyway. You’re welcome to it.” He explained that this trophy, worthless as it was to anyone else, held precious memories of his beloved grandfather, who had sacrificed so much to raise him when his parents had died.
That’s redemption. Buying something back. God instructed the Israelites, that once they had come into their land, they were to give to God the first born of their flocks and family. (Exodus 13:11-16) The clean animals were to be sacrificed; the unclean animals which were no use for sacrifice, such as a donkey, had to be redeemed with a lamb. The firstborn male children too, were redeemed, and the parents would make an offering to God before they could truly see the child as their own. He would then go on to serve God in the Temple for all his life.
What we so easily forget, is that as the creator of all things, God has ultimate authority. He can give life, or snuff it out as he pleases. All life belongs to him, and it is pure kindness that he only asks the firstborn male of each family, or the first fruits of a harvest.
In the New Testament, we come to see Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, the perfect firstborn son, offered up to redeem us, so that we might live to serve him. Isn’t it amazing that the God who commands the whole universe set the example of offering up his own firstborn son, his perfect trophy, to redeem the flawed, worthless, and damaged ones like you and me. Because he sees us as precious, wanted. And having been redeemed, let us press on to serve our God, in everything we do; thankful for his love and amazing sacrifice. “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
In the Old Testament it was required: written into the law. How much more should we offer back our lives willingly, unreservedly, since we know what a high price was paid for our redemption.