“For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”
– Colossians 1.13
I read this verse over and over again in preparation for living this day.
I read them slowly and out loud, I read them silently and with emphasis on different words, I read them until they gained their own rhythm, a cadence tapping against the inside of my heart and on the palms of my hands.
And over and over each time, I found myself landing in the same places, stuck on the same words: rescued. purchased. forgave.
Scripture is funny that way, the breathing thing that it is. The words move and shift shape and sink into different corners of your mind every time.
Jesus rescued. Jesus purchased. Jesus forgave.
I am rescued. I am purchased. I am forgiven.
It matters too, I think, the simple order of these words in this Spirit-penned letter, the order of events that creates a traceable path from darkness to light. The funny thing is, the first two words are powerful, full of action and drama – Jesus, desperate Lover of the Church diving in after His Bride to rescue us from our own crumpling selves, to purchase our freedom at an impossible price. How exciting; how romantic.
But then that third word kept chiming in, refusing to be left out.
Jesus forgave. Jesus forgives. Jesus will forgive.
I was forgiven. I am forgiven. I will be forgiven.
It struck me at first because it lacked that panache. It seemed a step back from the grand and sweeping gestures. It was in the wrong place, I thought; we swell upward, heavenward, bigger and bolder, we don’t kill the buzz.
But it continued to ring in my heart and echo in my ear, to grow roots and gain weight. Jesus rescued me from the kingdom of darkness when He came to our world, walked our world. And Jesus certainly purchased my freedom when He left our world bled bone-dry, transaction complete.
But – oh, my – the forgiveness of my sins…that verb is still in action, for today, already, and for tomorrow, and for always and for every single moment that needs it.
Jesus didn’t just come to redeem us that one time so many ages ago. His redeeming work continues even now, even as I swear at bad drivers and yell at my kids and skip church and wake up early to sit and steep in Scripture and instead lose three straight games of Trivia Crack.
I’m pretty decent at thinking less of this miraculous forgiveness of my sins, cheerfully forgetting how Jesus’ whole rescue mission hung on my ability to turn from Him with such eagerness and consistency. I am genuinely unable – completely lacking the mind space – to GET what it means to be divinely pardoned. So I tack on that forgiveness thing as an afterthought. I am rescued! I’ve been purchased! Oh, right, and forgiven too and junk.
Maybe I shouldn’t look so closely at this general blanket sinfulness of mankind I willingly and rightfully claim, the embedded nature from which we honestly can’t get away, even as the forgiven and found. Maybe, when I think of Jesus’ forgiveness, I should look at the sins that find me now, right where I am now, the frustration, the impatience, the pettiness, the distrust and distance and reckless words and selfish acts. These sins that forget the redemptive work of Christ, the smallness that takes for granted the cost of such freedom.
How quietly He challenges me. How unassuming these whispered conversations humming in my gut, all wrapped neat and tight around three simple words.
Rescued. Purchased. Forgiven.
Beloved, you have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness, swiftly stolen from the greedy clutches of the things that would destroy you.
Your freedom has been purchased by the smitten Christ, the cost never bartered or second-guessed but paid.in.full.
Your sins have been forgiven, are being forgiven, will forever and always and altogether be forgiven, and maybe that’s the most powerful thing of all.