If we could gather around the fire with a cup of coffee and talk about this season, I’d ask about your favorite passage related to the birth of our Redeemer.
I’m sure I’d hear of Mary’s wonder, the angels’ proclamation, the irony of a king in a manger, and many more. At times, each of these has been my first choice. But this fall, the women at my church studied the book of Ruth. So the lineage of Jesus is on my mind.
It’s not earth-shattering to speak of Christ’s scandalous genealogy. You could likely recite with me how it includes adultery, incest, murder, prostitution, flagrant kingly disobedience, gentile women, and even cowardly and untruthful actions by the patriarch who was given the original blessing.
My Bible study covered all of that as we looked at God’s grace on Ruth – a gentile woman – as she was brought into the royal line. But as I studied this book, I was captivated by a different story line: the difference a redeemer makes.
From Empty to Full
The book of Ruth opens with famine, death, emptiness, hopelessness, and bitterness, just to name a few. Naomi speaks without hesitation of the hand of the Lord being against her. “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21a)
That’s all in chapter 1. But turn the page and see what chapter 2 holds. Onto this scene enters the one who will eventually become the kinsman-redeemer: Boaz. And by chapter 4, life has followed death; fullness has replaced emptiness, and the future holds hope instead of despair.
And the difference? The redeemer. What a difference a redeemer makes.
On this side of the timeline, we easily skim chapter 1 with an omniscient view since we know how the story ends. But imagine the depth of Naomi’s despair. It was real. Scripture doesn’t give insight into Ruth’s mindset. We only see her resolve to hold on and glean where she can. But we can imagine she might have wondered if life would ever return to a place of comfort and security.
We could discount the desperation of thousands of years ago because we know they get their happy ending. And what’s more: we know it holds more happy than they could ever have imagined.
It’s all about the Redeemer
But what about our own lives?
When the answers don’t come and the loss continues to compound.
When it feels like the Lord’s hand is against us and we’ve been left to figure it out ourselves.
When as far as the timeline can predict, the future is bleak. Our full has become empty.
Dear friends, this may be you or it may be someone you know. All around us, this fallen world batters our souls and bruises our joy. Life is hard.
But the story of Christmas reminds us we are NEVER without hope. When all seemed lost, hope came down wrapped in swaddling clothes. And from that manger, a Redeemer grew. They called him Jesus, for He saved us from our sins. All of us.
The good news for the sinners in Christ’s lineage and the scoundrels that came after (that’s you and me, btw) is that it’s not about us. There is no pedigree we can produce or list of achievements to recite. It’s all about the Redeemer.
The Redeemer makes The difference.
Even if you can’t see how right now, you can hold onto the promises and cling to the promise-giver. The One who didn’t spare His own Son is the One who holds your future. And the One who counted you worth leaving the comforts of heaven to walk the dusty roads of earth toward a splintered cross is the One we call Emmanuel. God with us. Our Redeemer.
And that, my friends, makes all the difference.
Encouraging You and You Inspire Others,