The Lamb’s Purchase

You can tell a great deal about a person by what they purchase.  You know what I mean.  We’ve all been standing in the checkout grumbling on the inside (and perhaps on the outside) about the fact that we’ve once again chosen the wrong line (there were three others to pick from!) and let our eyes drift onto the carts of others.  Some are buying Great Value mustard while others are purchasing Grey Poupon (you know it’s fancy when they spell it “Grey” instead of “Gray”!).  Some people buy K-Mart tennis shoes while others got to have K-Swiss.  For some nothing but Pepsi will do but for others, for whom we are praying, it’s got to be Coke.  Some folks will pull out the EBT Card (which is certainly a good help for those in genuine need) for their groceries and then buy their “beverages” for the weekend from the money they “saved” on food.  Indeed, what we purchase can give insights about everything from our financial status to our tastes in food and fashion to the priorities that guide our lives.  Revelation 5:9 declares that Jesus, the Lamb of God, is worthy to be praised for He was willing to be slain (literally “slaughtered) in order to purchase men from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.  The kind of men (and women) that He was willing to purchase tells us much about our Lord and His love.  We will look at some New Testament passages to describe 4 kinds of men Jesus was willing to purchase with His precious blood.

The Wild Man (Mark 5:1-20)…The latter part of Mark chapter 4 records that Jesus and His disciples got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.  The Lord was asleep in the back of the vessel when a violent storm arose.  As water began to steadily fill the bottom of the boat, the faith of the disciples steadily fell from the bottom of their hearts.  In desperation, the men awoke Jesus from His slumber asking Him if He even cared that they were perishing.  Christ got up, spoke to the winds and the waves, and the tempest was stilled.  Why go through such an ordeal?  Perhaps for many reasons, but one primary reason met the Lord as soon as they disembarked on the other side of the Sea.  The “man” that we have come to know as the Gerasene demoniac immediately came running to Jesus.  I use the word “man” loosely because the devilish influences in his life had so taken control of his being that he could hardly be recognized as human.  He lived among the tombs, largely unclothed, screaming like a wild animal, and cutting himself like one gone insane.  Those who lived near him, perhaps because they were friends and neighbors trying to help, perhaps out of trying to protect themselves from one so crazy, tried to chain him down but to no avail.  The demoniac would break every fetter and continue in an ever descending downward spiral.  Jesus didn’t go through a storm to try to chain the wild man down, He came through a storm to set the wild man free!  The Lord casts the Legion of demons out of the man and into the pigs.  The 2,000 swine instantly became mad and thrust themselves over a cliff and into the depths of the sea.  The wild man was immediately delivered from darkness to light, gloriously and miraculously set free from the snares of Satan becoming clothed and in his right mind for the first time in a long time!  Maybe you’ve never lived among the tombs or cut yourself out of torment or walked around unclothed and screaming like an irrational animal, but there’s probably some reading this now who are either wild or praying for someone who is.  Take heart, those who come to Christ will find that He came to purchase the wild man!

The Withered Man (Mark 3:1-6)…Jesus came into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, as was His custom (note: the Lord was in “church” on a regular basis even though the religious leaders would be the ones who would call for His death and the people as a whole would end up rejecting Him).  A man with a withered hand was there.  We aren’t told what caused this condition.  Perhaps he had been handicapped from birth.  Perhaps it had happened from an injury while he was at work on the farm.  Maybe it resulted from a debilitating disease that had eaten away at his strength and mobility over a long period of time.  Whatever the case the man, who despite his malady kept attending church, ended up in the right place at the right time.  The religious leaders saw Jesus coming.  They had already had a dispute with the Lord regarding their man made regulations for the Sabbath Day.  Though they spoke no words Christ read their hardened hearts and knew that they longed to accuse Him for breaking their commandments by healing the man with the withered hand on the “wrong” day.  He confronted them openly asking the assembly if it was right to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to kill on the Sabbath Day.  They answered Him not a word and Scripture records that Jesus was greatly grieved and angered by their devilish disposition.  No matter.  Christ called the man forward and told him to stretch out his hand.  Gloriously and miraculously the muscles extended and the bones were released.  Maybe you don’t have a withered hand, at least physically.  Perhaps you have no devastating disease, at least not one that can be seen by the naked eye.  But, if one were able to pry a little deeper, they would see you have withered emotions, a withered soul, a worn out spirit.  I’m glad to report to you today, those who come to Jesus will find that He came to purchase the withered man!

The Wasteful Man (Luke 15:11-32)…It seems that Jesus wasn’t happy merely confronting the hypocritical religious leaders about their contrived constraints on the Sabbath, He also wanted to dispel their distortions about God’s view of sinners.  The opening verses of Luke 15 finds the Lord telling a parable about a man who lost one sheep out of his hundred.  Rather than cutting his losses and moving on the shepherd dropped everything and went looking after the one who had gone astray.  Upon finding the wayward animal, the shepherd rejoiced and threw a party, inviting his friends to share in his exuberant joy!  The religious leaders listening could easily, though perhaps reluctantly, nod their heads in agreement that livestock were indeed important.  The Lord then goes on to speak of a woman who had lost one out of the ten silver coins she owned.  In the same manner as the shepherd, she was not content to let it go.  She searched high and low, sweeping every corner and leaving no stone unturned until she found the coin that had been lost.  She invited her friends over to share in her joy!  Jesus’ enemies might have found themselves saying an accidental yet hearty amen for they all believed that money was important.  Having captured their attention with talk of sheep and coins, Christ now went in for the knock out punch to their unforgiving-sinner hating-ideology!  The Lord’s third parable told about the youngest of two sons from a Jewish family who did the unthinkable, more than once!  This young upstart went to his dignified father and asked if he could get his inheritance from the old man immediately.  Back then, as now, inheritances were not given out until the testator had died.  This kid was basically telling his dad that he wished he was dead!  The father gave his disrespectful offspring the money he had requested.  No sooner had the check cashed than the young man went off to a Gentile land, a terrible and tainting sin for a Jew.  Not only did he go to a sinful land, but he began engaging in extremely sinful behavior.  I like the King James Version here where it says that he wasted his inheritance on “riotous living.”  Then one day he reaped the great harvest of wild oats that he had sown.  His money all spent, his partying entourage all gone, he finds himself in a pig pen longing to eat their scraps.  We understand this as a low estate but the Jewish audience hearing Jesus’ teaching would have been even more aghast because pigs were viewed by them as such unclean animals.  At this point of the story the religious leaders were probably really into it.  This young punk had bucked every system of respectability and was now getting the just desserts of his wanton and wasteful behavior.  But then came “the rest of the story.”  Jesus went on to tell of the day when the young man came to his senses.  He remembered the days back at his father’s house and pined for the home he had so foolishly despised.  He prepared a speech and garrisoned the strength and courage to return home and request to be made as one of his father’s servants.  Climbing over the last hill before home his nervousness and fear rose to soaring heights.  Yet, before he had time to gather all of his thoughts and give his prepared mea culpa, he found his father running to him and, to use another good King James phrase, “falling on his neck.”  In Jewish culture it was undignified for the patriarch of the family to run, but the father cared more about being truly devoted than viewed as dignified.  Not only did he run to his repentant son, not only did he forgive his returning child, but he restored the one who had been so wasteful by putting a new robe on his back, new shoes on his feet, and a new ring on his finger!  You see, sheep were important, coins were important, but people, even wasteful people were most important!  The outcome of the story left the religious leaders horrified and God glorified!  Maybe you’ve never received an inheritance to waste.  Perhaps you’ve never been known as a party animal.  Maybe you’ve never dined with swine.  But if you look back on your life I can guarantee that there have been many times when you, like me and all of us, have been wasteful of God’s goodness and dismissive of relationships that should be cherished.  Take heart my brothers and sisters.  Those who come in repentance to Christ will find that He came to purchase the wasteful man!

The Wicked Man (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)…Our time together for this newsletter is drawing to a close.  I won’t belabor this last point but I do want to make it.  The city of Corinth was a terribly sinful place.  To put it in modern American vernacular it might have been said that “what happens in Corinth stays in Corinth!”  Yet the Apostle Paul was used by God to start a church in this zenith of darkness.  In the book of 1 Corinthians the Apostle reminds believers that “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”  He told the Corinthians, “do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”  If I stopped citing Scripture there we would surely end on a hopeless note.  All of us can find ourselves somewhere in that description of the wicked.  I’m so glad that Paul goes on to say to those believers of yesteryear and to us believers today that “such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”  Those who come to Christ discover that He came to wash, to sanctify, to justify, and yes, to purchase, the wicked man!