This blog post is different from any I have written before. It is fiction, an allegory, a story I saw take place in my mind as I did a Bible study and looked up the word “redemption” in the original Greek language. It means, “to be purchased from the slave market of sin, totally free, never to be sold again.” Enjoy.
The day was dark and gloomy as Jesus wandered the city streets. His heart was set on a mission but He wasn’t quite sure yet of the outcome. He was fully God but also fully man, so some things were still hidden to Him. But this He knew: the Holy Spirit was propelling Him to find something. Or someone.
He headed to the market area, and as He drew nearer, He could begin to hear the shouts. It was a place of market, a place of trade, where one exchanged one’s valuables for another person’s goods. It was a place where food, blankets, and fine linens were sold, but as Jesus drew nearer, He saw that the market was also darker and more sinister at one end. It was also a market for people. Slaves. Men and women of flesh and bone, sold into servitude for their debts and crimes.
It was then that he saw her. He could see that at one time she was young and lovely, but today she was grimy and disheveled. She was bound by the wrists and feet by heavy rope that had no hope of being untied. She probably had once struggled against her bonds, but as he looked at her, he saw that hope had long fled her heart and despair had settled in. She sat there in defeat, and all around her were shouts of condemnation.
“You dirty sinner, you deserve the punishment you’re gonna get.”
“You filthy, nasty woman! You are a reproach upon humanity.”
“You outcast! You should be left to die.”
The market was crowded, but Jesus was able to push his way through the mass of humanity to her. She was surrounded by other men and women on the slave cart, people equally as decrepit as her. He caught her eye, and when she saw the compassion in his eyes, she gave him a tremulous smile. No one had looked at her like a real person in a long time.
“Woman,” he said, “Why are you here on this slave cart, ready to be sold at the slave market? Why are you not at home, with your husband and children?”
She looked down at the ground in shame, and said in defeat, “Sin, sir. My sin. It has ensnared me, and I can’t escape from it. It has captured me, broken my will, and stolen all of my hope.” She looked at Him, face full of guilt, and continued, “I’m a sinner, sir. It’s what I am. It’s what I’ve always been. It’s what I will always be. And as a sinner, I deserve punishment. I deserve to pay for my sin for the rest of my life.”
Jesus contemplated her situation for a few moments. He wanted to flee this place of desperation and angst, but the Holy Spirit told him to stay, to look past the stench and shame of this sinful woman,and to search for what lay beneath her gritty exterior. As Jesus looked into her eyes, He could see that there was once a joy there. There once was creativity and love and a desire to care for others. In fact, what He saw inside of her drew his admiration and He felt proud of who she had once been.
As he continued to gaze at her, his view of her changed. Her torn clothing, matted hair, and feral smell began to fade away. As he continued to behold the beauty of her face, He began to see her future. He saw her in a new dress, fresh and colorful. He began to see her matted hair and broken body washed clean from the filth of sin. He was able to smell her, and she smelled of purity. Not only did he see her as clean and pure, but He saw her doing good works. He saw her future potential.
“Woman,” he said boldly. He felt a sudden urgency to do something, something crazy and that made no sense. But He felt compelled by the vision of this woman’s future, the clean woman she could be once more if only given a second chance. “Woman”, he said again, commanding her eyes to rise to meet his. As she looked into his eyes, longing for his help, He said the very words her battered, weary soul hoped to hear.
“I will take your place.”
She longed for His help, but resisted Him. “No, sir, no. You cannot. You must not. You are honored in this city. You are a teacher. You have not created a mess of your life like I have. No, sir, absolutely not. I have made my bed and I must lie in it. I am the one who has sinned and I must suffer the consequences of my bad choices. I alone must pay.”
Even as she tried to reason with Him, He reached up and began to undo her bonds. They were tight and had chafed against her wrists, but he gingerly loosed them. As He did so, the weight of what He was doing began to settle on Him. The magnitude of His decision hit him, but He did not stop. After he loosed her bonds, He reached up for her, picked her up by the waist, and lowered her from the cart.
“Woman,” he said as he looked deep into her eyes. “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more. You are free, now, so go. And don’t look back.”
Tears streamed down her face as she realized what was happening. There, in the slave market, the place of her bondage, shame, and despair, she was being set free. This man was taking her place and paying for her sins, thus buying her freedom. This man was redeeming her from sin.
She clung to the man, words of utter gratitude flowing from her heart. “Thank you sir. I didn’t think I would ever escape from the slavery of sin, but I am now free. I will always remember what you have done for me, sir.”
He removed her hands from him, and told her once again to go. She turned to go, moving slowly at first, but as she began to walk from the market, she felt a confidence rising within her. She felt her purpose for living slowly begin to return. She had hope. Did she even feel joy? Even though she was still dirty on the outside, she felt clean on the inside. She felt restored – her dirty past was replaced by her promising future.
As she left behind the clamor and darkness of the slave market, she turned back to look at the place of her redemption one last time.
And there sat Jesus in her place.
“In Christ, we have redemption through His blood…”
If you have never allowed Jesus to take your place and to pay for your sin, I would love to talk with you and explain how this could happen for you. Email me at Lisa@CelebratingWeakness.com