(The following is the sermon given by Rev. J.N.C. Hiebert, Missionary, M.B. Mission field, Nagarkurnool, at the 23rd Andhra Mennonite Brethren Convention held at Hughestown, Hyderabad, in April, 1940. This sermon is translated from Suvarthamani, the Official Telugu Magazine of Andhra Mennonite Brethren Church (May, 1940 issue) by Bro. O. Pavithra Sagar, Archivist, M. B. Historical Library, Archives, Shamshabad, Andhra Pradesh, India, 501218)
"If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you, or to a member of the stranger's family, then after he is sold he may be redeemed; one of his brothers may redeem him, or his uncle, or his cousin may redeem him, or a near kinsman belonging to his family may redeem him; or if he grows rich he may redeem himself. He shall reckon with him who bought him from the year when he sold himself to him until the year if Jubilee, and the price of his release shall be according to the number of years; the time he was with his owner shall be rated as the time of a hired servant." Leviticus 25: 47-50. (RSV)
"And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to the deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or Gold," I Peter 1: 17 & 18. (RSV)
The Old Testament gives explicit resemblance of the work of our Saviour Jesus Christ. And in the Bible we can see Jesus as a redeemer.
A foreigner came to Israel; he lived there and acquired wealth. With him lived a poor Israelite and that poor man fell in debt to that foreigner. To clear his debts he sold away his farms, and cattle, but still he could not clear his debt. So he sold himself to that foreigner. To relieve this poor man from the bondage God made a plan, that is by making a blood relative pay the amount for his release. If this blood relative feels pity on the servant and pays for his release, this servant can go free. In this story the foreigner is Satan and poor man who sold himself to the cruel master is the sinner and the merciful redeemer is Jesus. He came into this world, gave his precious blood as a ransom for the redemption and made us free. In this we can see three truths.
I. The Characteristics of a Redeemer
II. The Ransom for Redemption
III. The Results of Redemption
I. The Characteristics of a Redeemer
God has shown us clearly who can pay the ransom to free this poor servant. In Jesus all the eligibilities of a redeemer are hidden.
1. He has to be a blood relative.
If he is a friend he cannot free the servant, he has to be a close blood relative. Nobody except him can relieve him from this cruel master. To become our redeemer Jesus has became our brother. To become our brother he became a human being of flesh and blood. He never felt ashamed to call us his brethren. Phil. 2: 5-8, He. 2: 9-12.
2. He has to be merciful.
He has to show mercy towards his poor relative who is a suffering servant in the hands of the cruel master. He has to mourn for him, love him and has to be willing to help him. He has to be a merciful and kind blood relative who is willing to pay the price of redemption. Our great brother Jesus has seen us living in sin, he has seen our mourning and saw our slavery. Since he is merciful to us he came to redeem us. His love took him to Calvary for our redemption. Rev. 1: 5-6.
3. He has to be capable of paying the price of redemption.
A poor servant cannot free another servant. This blood relative should have enough money to pay the price for redemption. Only Jesus can make us free. All have sinned and are unable to see the glory of God. All human beings have become servants of Satan. Satan even tried to make Jesus as his servant. But he did not succumbed to temptation. He did not become a slave to sin. He alone had the capacity to pay our price and buy us. That is why he paid our entire price. He paid on the cross the unblemished, innocent blood of the lamb, so nobody needs to live under Satan. This price was paid two thousand years ago.
II. The Cost of Redemption.
We have seen the characteristics of a redeemer. Now we will look into the cost of redemption. We have seen in I Cor. 6: 19 "For you are bought with a price."
1. What is that price?
God fixes that price in the book of Leviticus. We have seen a story about the cost of redemption. If there were one, the cruel master would have asked to pay a price, which was difficult to pay. And it would have been compulsory to pay that price. And he has to calculate the cost from the day he was sold, up top the day of his freedom and that price would be accordingly to the years. And God fixed it as his price for redemption. Hence it became his redemption price. God fixed the blood of the lamb as the price of redemption even before the formation of the earth.
2. The price of redemption is great. /Great is the price of redemption.
Gold and silver was paid to free a servant. It is enough to free him. We were not servants to any man but sold ourselves to Satan. Gold and silver will not free us. The blood of bulls and goats will not make us free. Heb. 9: 11-12. The blood of Jesus, the Son of God is enough to make us free. Remember the troubles He faced at Gethsemane, remember the beatings on His back in the presence of Pilot, the troubles on the cross, and remember His cry "My god, my God why hast thou forsaken me." He went through all these troubles and shed His blood to redeem us. And a great price was paid for us.
3. The price was paid for us.
This is a glorious part in the cost of redemption. It bought your freedom and mine. We cannot free ourselves. We had decided to be the servants of Satan forever, and then came Jesus. He paid our price. Once again let us read Isaiah 53: 56 , Rom. 5: 2-9 and rejoice in the truth that He paid our price.
III. The Results of Redemption.
What are the benefits we are getting out of the redemption? What is the goodness hidden in this act, this is a big question. And we can only give a few answers here.
1. This redemption is making us free.
The poor brother has become free from the day when the blood relative has paid the price. From then onwards he never lived in bondage. He went to his home rejoicing. The cruel bondage ended and the authority of his cruel master is no more on him. He is free. Brother, listen! You are no more a servant to Satan and sin from the day Jesus died for you on the cross. You can be free. You have to believe that your price has already been paid. Satan is deceiving his servants and taking them towards unbelief. They don't believe that a price has been paid for them for their freedom. Whoever believes this is wonderfully getting freedom from bondage. Praise the Lord!
2. Redemption is restoring which is lost.
The person who got freedom is going to his home and living as if he was never in bondage. And everything that he lost was restored to him. He was given freedom to live with his family. He can do anything he likes. This will be the same for every sinner. Whatever we lost forever in Adam we regained it in Jesus. Whatever Adam sold to Satan forever is bought back by Jesus for us. The whole creation is under the dominion of falsehood. The whole creation is groaning and waiting for its liberation. It will be liberated when the Lord manifests himself. Rom. 8 22-23.
3. Redemption is making us His servants and priests.
The poor servant was made free but was left in his poor state. He did not receive any further help. So after a couple of days again he had fallen in debt and had to sell himself once again. But Jesus when he redeemed us, he did not leave us in a poor state. He made us rich so that we cannot fall in debt and sell ourselves. He made us kings and priests. He made us equal inheritors as Christ. This plan of redemption was totally accomplished for us. Rom. 8: 17, Rev. 5: 9-10.
Email dated 19th September 2002.
To: Mrs. & Mr. Phylis & Elmer Martens,
Fresno, California, USA.
Dear Brother and sister in Christ,
Greetings to you in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
I hope you remember me. I am working as an Archivist at the Archives in Shamshabad.
I have looked in to various sources and found one of the sermons given by Late Rev. J.N.C. Hiebert. As I promised you I am sending the translation of the original English sermon given by late Rev. J.N.C. Hiebert, worked as a Missionary in the Nagarkurnool, Mission field. This sermon is published in Telugu in the May 1940 issue of Suvarthamani (the Official Magazine of the Andhra Mennonite Brethren Church.) It is in Telugu language. This translation is word to word, done personally by me; I tried my best to keep the original flavour.
I am thankful to you for giving me this opportunity.
May God bless you.
Yours in His service,
O. Pavithra Sagar, Archivist,
M. B. Historical Library & Archives,
M. B. Mission Compound, Shamshabad, A.P., India