If you hand a full-price coupon on soap to the cashier in your grocery store they take the coupon as a substitution for cash for the amount due. When you do this you are redeeming the soap with the coupon. The coupon is the substitution for the full amount required for you to get the soap; the store, as the owner of the soap, accepts the substitutionary transfer of ownership, and the soap is the “redeemed” as its ownership has been transferred from the store to you.
Now, let’s apply this to John 3:16 (NIV): For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
- For God so loved the world – God is the purchaser.
- that he gave his one and only Son – Jesus, God’s Son is the coupon. This is the substitutionary work Christ did on the cross. There is an excellent study on Substitution here: https://www.ligonier.org/blog/jesus-our-substitute/
- that whoever believes in him – The believer is the soap that “asks to be purchased” – think VeggieTales 😉
- shall not perish but have eternal life – The transfer of ownership is complete. The soap (redeemed) now belong to God.
The redemption of people is the driving message of the Bible. God’s love of humanity is beyond anyone’s ability to understand but we should all be thankful for it.