Vignette of Redemption

“That’s enough, I’ve had it! It is time for a change, and I am putting my foot down,” he said, as he stepped out of the door and planted his foot into the middle of an adventure.

George Herbert’s Redemption opens with a tenant, a figure similar to Christ’s parable of the leased vineyard. As a tenant, a renter, this fellow felt he had very poor terms, and was getting the raw end of the deal. He was not thriving. So he put on his cap, walked up to heaven and could not find his master anywhere. Apparently off on earth in a land dearly bought. So the tenant worked his way down to earth and started looking, beginning in the most prestigious locations and working down to spots he felt more at home in himself. But the master was nowhere to be found! Until, that is, the man looked where there was a rough and raucous riot and there the master was on a cross.

At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth
    Of thieves and murderers; there I him espied,
    Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, and died.

And the man is left sputtering. We all are, and it is a clever view of God’s redemption story.

Looking further into the poem, there is some timey wimey, wubbly wobbly stuff going on with the phrase used to report the master’s whereabouts. They say he “had dearly bought” some land, even before the master died. Because time is a dimension that does not limit God, it could show how Christ’s sacrifice had already taken effect. Or perhaps God paid dearly in another way for the earth. He allowed free will, and from there, sin. And ever since then, God worked to redeem His creation. Either way, it is amazing to think that God limited Himself as Jesus into the same time-constraints as us.

It is also interesting how the tenant searches high and low…literally. He begins with places he will feel uncomfortable and intimidated, and ends with places where he feels superior. But the master was found there, in the middle of thieves and murderers. Are the thieves and murderers only the men who hung on either side of Jesus’ cross?

The master gets the last word. The tenant does not even get a chance to recite his prepared petition. The ending is abrupt, and leaves the reader sputtering. God has long since been working for us in love, preparing, planning, directing the course of the world. And we recognize that we need care and love, but we are surprised we do not have to fight for it.

God, thank You for redeeming time, social statues, the way of life that is burdensome and stifling to one that is startling and new. Because You did grant the suit, and the way You did it should shock everyone who hears. God, please help that shock to not wear off,the price of my redemption, and for me to serve well in this new covenant. Please teach me to love You with everything, and seek Your will. Thank You for granting the suit. Amen.


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