This is the fifth of eight posts dealing with Romans 3:21-26, a passage that Martin Luther called the most important paragraph in the Bible. Romans 3:24 says that sinners are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We are concerned here with the last words of the verse.
“Through the redemption” conjures up images from the slave market, where a price was paid to redeem something–or someone. The work of Jesus on the cross accomplished redemption, a “buying back,” if you will, from the power of sin. Thus, this is a redemption that “came by Christ Jesus,” accomplished and effected through what He did on the cross.
Thinkers in church history have speculated as to who received the payment. Some wonder: was the debt of sin paid to the devil? Scripture never teaches such a thing, not in any chapter or verse. If one must have an answer (though a recipient of payment is not inherent in the Greek verb that means “redeem”), the recipient would be God Himself. Think of it: our sin has caused the breach in fellowship with a holy and just God. Rather than abandoning mankind forever in sin, God sends His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross and purchase a people for Himself. God sends His Son as a sacrifice to Himself! Ephesians 5:2 says, “Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Jesus purchased redemption on the cross. He cancelled the debt of sin through his atoning work. The Father received the Son’s sacrifice with pleasure and satisfaction. Satisfaction…now that’s an interesting word in this context…but more on that in the next installment. Praise be to our Redeeming God.