For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 3:11-14)
Paul’s letter to Titus speaks of Jesus Christ giving himself for us in order to redeem us. When we think of redeeming things, we think of coupons. Or we may think of the slave trade in the United States two hundred years ago, and the possibility of buying freedom for a slave.
But the people in New Testament times would not have associated redemption with these things. When a first-century Jew heard about redemption, they thought back to the Exodus – that great moment in Jewish history when God delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.
God appeared to Moses and promised deliverance, saying, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.”
Moses went before Pharaoh, King of Egypt, with a message from the Lord, King of the world. God says, “Let my people go!” Pharaoh refused. So God poured out his wrath upon Egypt, destroyed the Egyptian army, and thereby rescued his people from foreign captivity.
Today, we do not find ourselves enslaved to a foreign nation. But the Scriptures teach that we are in bondage. Human beings are enslaved to sinful desires and lusts. We are in captivity to the Evil One, who is a greater Enemy than Pharaoh ever was. We are enslaved to the curse of death, as we watch our loved ones snatched away and realize that our own death awaits us.
But just like God destroyed the power of Pharaoh in order to rescue his people and take them to the Promised Land, God has now acted through the person and work of Jesus Christ to redeem us as well. The grace of God has appeared that we might be freed from our sinfulness. Jesus Christ has come to give himself for us, that we might be redeemed, bought back, no longer in captivity to the Enemy.
As Jesus was dying upon the cross two thousand years ago, the voice of God the Father resounded throughout the universe, sending the clear and unstoppable message to Satan and all the forces of hell – LET MY PEOPLE GO!
God delivers us from our sinfulness. He delivers us from our self-centeredness. He delivers us from slavery to the Evil One. He delivers us from condemnation, nailing the accusations of the Evil One to the cross where Jesus died. He even delivers us from death itself.
The passage we read before says that God is purifying for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. We have left behind our old way of life and are now on our way to God’s Promised Land.
We are delivered from evil for good works.
We are delivered from death for a new life.
We are delivered from sin for righteousness.
Our master is no longer Satan, but Jesus Christ, the King of kings. We now have hope. We now have peace.
And we await the return of Jesus Christ, when on the Last Day, the Day of Resurrection, even the curse of death will be overturned forever.
When the unveiling of Jesus Christ the King takes place, all who are in the graves will hear the voice of the Crucified and Risen Lord, and Death will be dealt its final blow, as Jesus shouts to the graveyards, “LET MY PEOPLE GO!” And those who hear the voice of the Son of God will live.