In the days before there were kings, when Israel was still being ruled by judges, there was a famine. During this time, a man from Bethlehem which was in Judah left his home to go live in Moab for a while. He took his wife and His two sons with him. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife was Naomi. His sons were Mahlon and Chilion. The family had always lived in Bethlehem but now they were moving to the country of Moab to live there.
But Elimelech died and Naomi was left with her two sons. Each son had married a wife from Moab. One of them was named Orpah, the other was named Ruth. After about ten years, Mahlon and Chilion also died. Naomi was left without her husband or her sons. Then she heard that the Lord came to care for His people in Israel by giving them food. So she began to leave Moab with her daughters-in-law to go back to Bethlehem in Judah.
On the way, Naomi said to Ruth and Orpah, "Go back! Both of you return to you family! May the Lord be kind to you just as you have been kind to me and my husband and sons. May the Lord give you rest and let you find new husbands." With that, Naomi kissed them and they all began to cry.
And Ruth and Orpah said, "No, we will go with you to Israel—to your people!" But Naomi said, "Turn back, my daughters; why would you want to go with me? I have no more sons to give to you as husbands. Turn back! I am too old to have a husband, and even if I did, and I gave birth to two sons tonight, would you wait until they grew up so you could marry them? Would you really want to wait for them instead of remarrying now? I am very sad for you that God has stretched out His hand against me."
Then Ruth and Orpah began to cry again. Orpah kissed Naomi and left, but Ruth held on tight to her. And Naomi said to Ruth: "You see! Orpah went back to her family and to the gods that they worship—go with her!" But Ruth said, "Please do not tell me to leave you or to stop following you. Where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people will be my people, and your God shall be my God. Where you die, I will die and wherever that is, I will be buried. May God make sure I keep this promise: that nothing shall separate us but death!
When Naomi could tell that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing else. So the two of them went on their journey
“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.”
If you are willing
We can look back at this moment of Christ’s anguish and rejoice, not in the physical pain of His suffering, but in that God was not willing for His work to go unfinished. If there could have been any other way to forgive our sin, perhaps God would have spared His Son. If there had been any other way to make us righteous, Jesus would not have had to die. But there was not.
God was willing, in this hour, to crush His Son so that He might secure for us an eternal redemption.
God’s desire, since time began, has been to bring man to Himself. He accomplished this through Jesus Christ. So when all the purpose of God for all eternity was focused on Christ on that night in the garden, God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer was already known.
- Isaiah 53:10; “It was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
- Hebrews 10:5-10; “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”‘ When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will [the will of God] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
God’s will has always been to sanctify us through the offering of Christ’s body. Jesus came to complete that will–to crushed for our iniquities and raised for our justification.
Not my will, but yours, be done
We might, at first glance, think that Jesus didn’t want what God wanted. Detach yourself from human logic for a minute to remember that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. It was the physical pain, the separation from the Father, the tormenting act of bearing an entire world’s sin that brought Jesus into agony that night. He did not resent the result–it was His will, just as it was God’s, to bring all men to Himself even if by means of His death. He knew what He had to go through to make us His, so He endured the cross, despising the shame in light of the joy that was set before Him.
- Luke 13:34; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”
- John 17:24; “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
- John 12:32-33; “‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”
- John 3:14-18; And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'”
Giving of one’s money as a sacrifice for the sake of redemption is futile. No matter how much a person gives, he cannot purchase the salvation of his soul.
- Psalms 49:7-9; “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”‘
Giving of one’s money (especially when in want as this widow was) as worship to the Lord to honor and thank Him for His blessings is joyful and rewarding.
- 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints–and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-11; “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
Our motivation to give is not to approve ourselves before the Father or to get something in return; our motivation is to give back to Him who first gave everything for us.
- 2 Corinthians 8:9; “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
- Philippians 2:6-8; “Though [Christ Jesus] was in the form of God, [He] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
- 1 Peter 1:18-19; “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
The Almighty Lord of Glory set aside His kingly vesture to wear a crown of thorns for us. He who is the owner of cattle on a thousand hills humbled Himself low enough to be born in a manger–a cold, stone feeding trough for livestock. He had no place to lay His head while He walked the earth and no place to lay His body when He died. He became the poorest of the poor for you and me. He left His heavenly throne and the angelic choir who sang, “Holy, holy, holy,” day and night to be spat upon and mocked, beaten and nailed to a cross by the people He created.
All of this to make us rich.
All of this so that by faith in Him we could be made sons of God and heirs with Christ. Heirs of eternal life, recipients of mercy, portraits of grace.
Giving Jesus’ way is giving everything for nothing in return. Although through His sacrifice He did gain something. He gained us.
- Isaiah 53:11; “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”
He gained a kingdom of priests set apart to offer spiritual sacrifices to Him. He gained children made righteous: sinners justified and made to stand in His presence for eternity.
“From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
1 Corinthians 8:6; “There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
He is the author of all things. He is the giver of all things. He is the instigator, initiator, originator, mastermind. All things are from God.
When we were gone astray, it was He who sought as out. When we were at enmity with Him, it was He who wanted reconciliation. He is the source of our salvation. He is the one who initiated a relationship with us. It was His idea, His desire, His plan.
- Ephesians 2:1-9; “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
- Titus 3:3-7; “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Through Him—by means of Himself. Our salvation—our reconciliation with Him—was His own work. We had no righteousness of our own, so He provided it.
- 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'”
- 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:21; “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
- 1 Peter 3:18; “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”
- Isaiah 59:16-17; “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.”
- Isaiah 63:5; “I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me.”
- Psalms 98:1; “Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”‘
Having wrought salvation for us, our calling is to live unto Him. He brought us to Himself through Jesus Christ so that we could live to Him.
- 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; “The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
- Romans 14:7-9 “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
- 1 Peter 4:1-2; “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
You were bought with a price
You belong. You are the property of somebody and as such you are linked with somebody, you are classified as a part of something, you are accepted by somebody. If you were owned be a man, this would be a terrible thing. Where men are owned by other men there is oppression and abuse.
But we are owned by God. We were purchased by Him with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God without spot or blemish.
- 1 Peter 1:18-19 “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
- Acts 20:28 “The church of God, [He] obtained with his own blood.”
You are valuable
If in God’s sight Jesus is more precious than any other thing, if Jesus Christ’s blood was of surpassing value to the Father (and it was), then we can know that we are that precious to Him. He did not withhold even His only son to make us His own. To say we are valuable to Him is a dramatic understatement. We are priceless to Him.
You are His
Let this truth sink deep into your heart. Let it comfort you. After it has comforted you, let it instruct you. The verse before us, and the context of this verse, teach us how we should live in light of the fact that God purchased us.
You belong to the Lord as a sheep to his shepherd. You are His people, His own cherished possession.
- Psalms 100:3 “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
- Psalms 79:13 “But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”
- Psalms 95:7 “For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”
- Ezekiel 34:31 “You are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.”
- 1 Peter 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
- John 10:11-14 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”