Imagine a death row inmate who is just about to be executed. He has just eaten his last meal. The electric chair is warmed up and ready. Suddenly someone knocks on the door. It’s a pardon from the governor. This man—as good as dead a few moments ago—has now been released. He’s been given his life back. This sort of story has often been used to illustrate our salvation. But when it comes to what Jesus did for us on the cross, it goes so much deeper. When we were rescued from eternal death, the Governor did not merely send a pardon. He entered the execution chamber, sat in the electric chair Himself, and took the execution we deserved as prisoners on eternal death row. Paul’s point is that Jesus exchanged His life for ours. Are you living your life for Him? Love begets love and His sacrifice should kindle a desire to sacrifice in us. Paul continues with the same thought in the next verse…
He died for all that, those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (v. 15, NKJV)
As Leonard Ravenhill asked: “Are the things you’re living for worth Christ dying for?” Do you evaluate your life and your priorities in light of the price Jesus paid for you? The natural response might be, “Well, it’s my life. I can live how I want to live.” No, my friend, it’s not your life. You have been bought with a price and your life is not your own, “therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20).
I love to tell this story when I preach the gospel in Africa. It’s the true account of an old Baptist pastor from the 1800s, preparing his Sunday sermon on Saturday afternoon. After several hours of study, he got tired and went for a walk to stretch his legs. As he walked through town, he saw a boy carrying a birdcage in one hand and a stick in the other. Inside the cage were a dozen little field birds, and the boy was jabbing the birds through the bars with the stick. The birds were shrieking, feathers were flying, and the boy was laughing. The pastor approached the boy. “Son,” he said, “why are you tormenting those birds?”
The boy said, “Sir, I love to hear them shriek. I love to see their feathers fly. It is so much fun.”
“What will you do when you are finished having your fun?” the pastor asked.
The boy smiled broadly. “Oh sir, that’s the best part. I will bring them home, take them out of the cage one by one, pluck their feathers, and feed them to my cat.”
The pastor’s heart was broken. “Son, let me have those birds,” he said.
“No, these are my birds. I caught them myself. You can get your own birds. You can catch some in the field.”
“But I want those birds.”
“Why? They don’t even sing. They aren’t canaries, you know. They are just ordinary field birds.”
“Please, son. I’ll buy them from you. How much do you want?”
The pastor took out his wallet and opened it up. Suddenly the boy saw a business opportunity. “How much money do you have, sir?” The pastor counted two dollars, which was a lot of money in those days.
“What a coincidence,” the boy said. “They cost exactly two dollars, cage included.”
The pastor knew the boy was ripping him off, but he took all the money out of his wallet and handed it to the boy. The next day the pastor told this story as he stood before his congregation. He said, “I took that cage out into the field. I opened the door and I backed away. One by one the birds hopped to the open door. One by one they spread their wings, and one by one they began to fly. And as they flew to freedom they began to sing the same song. And this was their song: ‘Redeemed, Redeemed, Redeemed.’”
This is what Jesus has done for us. When God looked down on a world full of helpless souls trapped in the prison of sin—tormented by fears and tears, by addictions and compulsions—His heart was moved with compassion. He knew that we could do nothing to save ourselves and He knew that without His deliverance, we would spend eternity in hell. This does not mean that God made a deal with the devil. I don’t believe any such thing. But it does mean that God truly “redeemed” us from our bondage.
The word “redeemed” in the New Testament means to liberate by the payment of a ransom. But what was the price of our ransom? Peter tells us explicitly: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Pet. 1:18-19, niv).
We have been redeemed. We have been purchased—not with dollars or Euros, not with silver or gold. In fact, the currency God used to purchase your redemption was the most precious substance in the universe—the very blood of Jesus Christ. When God purchased your salvation, Heaven went bankrupt. For even the streets of gold are worthless by comparison to the blood of God’s eternal Son. God could create a whole new universe with a word. But only that precious blood of Jesus Christ could redeem our souls. So Paul says, “Those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again!” The next verse takes it even further. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. (v. 16, NKJV)
This extract is culled from “The Judgment Seat of Christ” by Daniel Kolenda