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Communion Meditations (2016)

Kinsman Redeemer

Originally scheduled for March 13

The Old Testament contains many items of history, one of which is the Book of Ruth. It’s a love story, which also introduces to us the idea of the “Kinsman Redeemer.” We are presented with a young lady by the name of Ruth, a stranger in a strange land. She is of the tribe of Moab, which is not one of the tribes of Israel. She was married to an Israelite, and with her mother-in-law Naomi returned to the area of Bethlehem. She is what my mother would’ve called a “shirttail relation.” From the context we can also deduce that she is a somewhat older woman, and of course a widow and an alien — and therefore someone with very little hope.

Boaz, the male lead in this romance, is introduced to us as a man who is rich, a pillar of the community, a kindly man given to generosity and a very devout follower of God. It’s important to note that Boaz himself has no obligation under the Old Testament law to be of any assistance to Ruth. He could just wash his hands of whatever he sees in need and say it’s the other man’s problem. All of these things are detailed quite carefully in the Old Testament law. To exceed this would be somewhat unusual. But it is the nature of Boaz that he does not skimp when he tries to help. So he goes to the man who is first in line and asks him to do what is required under the law. The man cannot afford to do it; he therefore passes the privilege on to Boaz.

Boaz therefore becomes what is known as the “Kinsman Redeemer.” The actual details are rather technical, having to do with sale of land in Israel. But the short of it is that Boaz rescues her from her poverty and marries her at the same time. We are not told, but we must assume that they lived happily ever after.

The story is given to us as a model. We, collectively, are like Ruth. We have no real claim upon the Lord God Almighty; we’re not even in the family. We have no standing on which we can claim his help as a matter of right. But out of God’s great love for us he sent his son, our “kinsman Redeemer,” to rescue us. He was not obligated to do this; he did it out of love. We, like Ruth, are under the wings of God Almighty, seeking refuge.

That refuge was granted to us at the Cross. Christ asked that we remember the sacrifice he made for us. So we find in the bread, which represents his body and the cup which represents his blood a simple picture of the sacrifice he made. Like many things simple, it is also profound: a picture of what he has done for us.

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