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Sunday 4 September 2022

Kinsman Redeemer: Debt Forgiveness is Instrinsic to the Humanity of Jesus

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Without debt forgiveness, Jesus would not have been born. Let me explain. 

Jesus is God the Son, the second member of the trinity. He existed before the foundation of the world. His eternal nature is clear in Scripture (John 1, Colossians 1, Daniel 7, Hebrews 1 among other passages). He took on human flesh to save humanity from our debt of sin, in what is now called the First Century AD. 

Though his eternal nature existed before the foundation of the world, he is truly of the line of Mary and Joseph, according to the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. He is not of Joseph's seed, but he is accounted as Joseph's son, and he is in the lineage of David (Rom. 1:3). 

But he is only in the lineage of David because Ruth, a Moabite, married Boaz. Or more accurately, because Boaz purchased his kinsmen's inheritance, redeeming it from bondage. This inheritance included Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi.  

We read in Ruth 2, that Ruth met Boaz while seeking fields to glean: 

"17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. 19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man's name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” 21 And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” 23 So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law" (Ruth 2:17-23). 

Boaz was a good man, who honoured the young woman, Ruth. He was also one of Naomi's kinsmen redeemers, meaning he had the right to buy her deceased husband's property and family out of debt. We read at the start of Ruth that Naomi's husband, Elimelech had led his family to Moab in hard times. His land and belongings would have fallen into the hands of another while he was gone. Which meant Naomi and Ruth would have been in danger of becoming debt slaves.

Boaz saves them from this: 

"Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” 11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman" (Ruth 4:7-12). 

Boaz's purchase of his kinsman's land, saved Naomi and Ruth from a life of bondage and hardship. And without this redemption, the Messiah would not have been born, because Jesus is descended from Boaz, through Ruth, 

"18 Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, 19 Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21 Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David" (Ruth 4:18-22). 

You may respond, "Yea, but God could have brought the Messiah through another woman, or another line." But he did not. He chose just such a man as Boaz who would fulfil his duty of redemption and just such a woman as Ruth that needed redeeming. 

You see Jesus's humanity is real and he truly is a man of his line, with all the best characteristics and none of the worst. Forgiving debts, the debt of sin, is not just central to the cross, it is central to the humanity of Christ. He is a man like Boaz, a kinsman redeemer. Jesus redemption goes further of course, but he is essentially a man of his lineage, redemption is a family trait. 

Debt forgiveness is intrinsic to the gospel in so many ways. And Christians are poorer in their understanding of the Bible for having forgotten this. 

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