Posted on 11-Dec-2014
Published December 13th, 2014
Compassion. Mercy. Grace. Forgiveness. Redemption. All words with similar uses, yet different meanings. Together, these ordinary words carry a meaning so beautiful and costly it is hard to understand how it could exist.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them... (Matthew 9:36a NIV)
The word compassion is a interesting one. More accurately, it is one that doesn't exist in the Classical Greek language. Or any language spoken before Jesus' time. Many times it is said that He showed compassion on them. When the disciples saw Jesus grief for the people, they could not find any word capable of expressing this feeling. As a result, they coined a new one.
Forgiveness, also known as a pardon, is the cancelling of a debt, the wiping of a slate. We always say “forgive and forget”, but the truth is that forgetting is, in a way, forgiveness. When we forgive someone, we are basically saying “you did something wrong to me, but I am not going to hold a grudge against you”.
Mercy and grace are the two words extremely similar. Mercy is refraining from doing something deserved. Grace is doing something that is actually undeserved. When God chooses not to kill us the minute we sin, that is mercy. When He forgives us and invites us to befriend Him, that is grace.
Redemption is basically what holds all the above together. When God redeemed us, he didn't just show compassion. He didn't just exercise mercy and grace. He didn't just forgive us. He literally redeemed us. There was a price to pay - and He paid it.
A incredibly accurate illustration would be that written by CS Lewis. Some may have read it in his book - “The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe”. In it, the main characters brother, Edmund sides with the witch, but is eventually rescued from the harsh treatment, and brought back to his siblings, staying with an army gathered by Aslan. The witch comes soon after, however, insisting that Edmund should die for treason. Aslan, the creator of that world, talks to the witch in private, and manages to persuade her to renounce her claim.
Yet that night, Aslan leaves the camp where the siblings sleep in secret. Soon, he meets with the witch and her army. The witch promptly ties him up and after a while, executes him instead if Edmund.
God's willingness to redeem us is greater than we can ever comprehend. However, a pardon is completely useless unless we accept it. When we declare that we have been redeemed, we also declare that we have sinned, or there would be no need for redemption.
And indeed, we all have sinned, and are worthy of things worst than death. Yet God has done so much for us, to the extent of sacrificing His own life for us in the form of Jesus' death on the cross. As a song put it: “There is no greater gift that can ever be given - to be willing to die so another might live.”
Page Created: 12th December 2014