Gratitude is a great and noble virtue. Its opposite – ingratitude- hurts. There are several ways by which people can be ungrateful. Some show ingratitude by being simply indifferent. Others express their ingratitude by actually hating you for standing up to great values. Still, others show ingratitude simply because they are either forgetful or ignorant of your good work. At first it might seem surprising to think that people can be “guilty” of ingratitude as a result of their ignorance. But we should not be surprised, after all, you cannot be grateful for what you do not know. And one can be ungrateful precisely for lack of knowledge.
If there is one person who deserves all our gratitude, love and worship, it is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. This becomes especially important if we come to think of how much it cost him to save us. If we are going to be grateful and worship the Lord with the love and reverence he deserves, we cannot but be eternally mindful of the price that was paid to secure our freedom. Again, we have to consider where we were before Christ. By the Devil’s temptation and our disobedience we had fallen under the curse. And as the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31). By our stubbornness we had fallen into the hands of the living God. We were under his wrath, bound to sin and death. Someone had to pay the price for our ransom and freedom.
The reality is that we were all helpless and powerless. If the whole of humanity from past generations to the present were to put their strength together, it would not be enough to free us from the enslaving power of sin and death. If we were to put all our wealth together, it would not suffice to redeem us. The power of sin is beyond any human power. Here are the words of the Psalmist: “Truly no man can ransom himself, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of his life is costly, and can never suffice, that he should continue to live on for ever, and never see the Pit” (Ps 49:7-9). We faced the real possibility of perishing and remaining under the terrible anger of God. Slavery to sin is the worst form of slavery the human mind can possibly imagine. Sin cripples. Sin kills! (The wages of sin is death. Cf. Rom 6:23). Sin is a question to which we have no answer. There is no human power (in the past, the present or the future) that can rescue us from the prison of sin and darkness. This is the reality.
But blessed be the name of God! There is another reality. And it is this. We have found One who is worthy and able to pay our ransom and set us free: Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Son of David. He is the Son of Mary and the Sovereign Son of God. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (cf. Jn 1:29). He alone was found worthy to deliver us from the bondage of sin and the oppression of the Devil. Isaiah writes,
But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity. If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; And he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses. (Is 53:10-12)
And he himself, openly confirmed the words of the prophet Isaiah when he said to his disciples, “For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus Christ has become our redemption because he offered himself for our sin by shedding his Precious Blood. His Blood is the price of our freedom. His blood has taken away the anger of God. His Blood has taken away the curse. His Blood has taken away our guilt and shame. His Blood has opened for us the door of Paradise. By his Blood we have access to the very life of God. Amazing love! No more fear. Our slavery is ended. Our freedom has begun. We are free people. That is the reality of our redemption. It took the Precious Blood of Jesus to set us free. And to this what shall we say? We can only join the angels to sing the unending hymn of praise:
Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth. . . . Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! . . To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever! (Rev 5:9-10, 12, 10)
Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude – is what Jesus deserves. We show our gratitude in our total surrender to his Lordship. Let us not be indifferent to what Christ has accomplished for us. Let us also not forget or be ignorant to the price that has been paid to ransom us. As the First Letter of Peter tells us, the price of our ransom is more precious than silver or gold. Let us enjoy our new found freedom, but let us remember to give thanks and worship the Blood that has redeemed us. To be held captive to the power of sin is to be deprived of joy. The joy of having been set free should make us sing with joy. Let us sing! Let us sing! And let us sing with Charles Wesley (1738):
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee
Henceforth, you know whom to turn to when sin seems to hold you captive again. You know where to turn when the tide of temptation rises. You know whom to turn to when the feeling of guilt seems to crush you. You know who is responsible for your freedom and glory. You have a Redeemer to turn to. Let not sin keep you bound. Let not despair be your portion. Approach the Blood. Appeal to the Blood. “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:14-16).
Dear friends, what shall we say? Let us turn to this Man for salvation. Let us worship him. Let all that is within us cry: Worthy! Worthy! Worthy is the Lamb that was slain. Worthy is the Lamb who takes away our sins! Amen and Amen!
Invitation to prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. Forgive me. I believe that you are the Lamb of God who takes away my sins and that of the world. You are worthy to receive all worship and glory. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may always sing your praises. Thank you, Precious Lamb of God. Amen.