Question 19: Who is the Redeemer?

The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, in whom God became man and bore the penalty for sin himself.


I could begin this week’s response to the catechism question with a three paragraph theological explanation. Instead I'll start with a story about a friend of mine in Pharmacy School.
 
I caught Greg doing something unusual every day before lunch. He would open up his door, allowing everyone in the dorm that traveled down his hallway on their way to lunch to see him reclined on his bed reading his bible. Greg practiced this all year despite the ridicule, in hope that someone seeking God would join him. "Why continue doing it?" I asked. Greg explained that when he became interested in Jesus he was intrigued by the question of why it was necessary for Jesus to die on the cross. "God makes up all the rules. Why would He create a system that would cause Him so much pain and lead to His Son's death?" The more he read, the clearer it became. "He could have created us to have robotically loved and adored Him. We would have never sinned." Greg smiled. "But that love wouldn't have meant anything without giving us the choice to love him or not to love Him.” That choice not to love Him lead to sin...and sin led to punishment...and punishment lead to the only option a perfect God had. A perfect God sent a perfect Son to do what only He could do--redeem us. Greg said this act of God stunned him. If God planned this knowing exactly what it would cost Him, then it had to radically change the way he lived. So Greg believed he was placed there in Richmond to bring glory and attention to God, and that getting a Pharmacy education was just a secondary goal.
 
This was very convicting to me. Like many people my plan for my life was to pursue things like a Pharmacy degree, and a girlfriend in Pittsburgh, and invite God into everything I was doing in life. Greg's view of life was the compete reverse. He was pursuing God and enjoying the direction God was leading him every day. In the midst of this he was inviting the events of his life to join him as an afterthought. Completely different mindset. Interestingly, Greg seemed so much more freed up and joyful and content than almost anyone else I knew. I tell you this story because the catechism question is this:
 
Who is the Redeemer?  The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, in whom God became man and bore the penalty for sin himself.
 
This statement either leaves you shaking your head in an academic manner as you check off question #19 and plod on to question #20, or it reminds you of the fierce, relentless love that Jesus our Redeemer has for you, and how this knowledge transforms your life. These truths can stir us, delightfully disturb us, and ultimately shape the way we live, or they can just remain stale one-liner questions that don't mean anything more than a memorized answer we can use just in case someone asks us the question. I must admit I look at life differently because of how I saw Greg live 35 years ago in the halls of my Medical College of Virginia dorm hallways. May we all inspire those around us with such authentic love for Jesus our Redeemer.

Steve Forbes
Elder