Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Israel,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they sell the righteous for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals—
those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth
and turn aside the way of the afflicted.” Amos 2:6-7a ESV
You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. I Peter 1:18b-21 ESV
Once there were three young men who found eight bushels of gold coins underneath a tree. They knew that if they tried to take this gold into town during the day, everyone would think they were thieves, so they decided to wait until it was night. They sent the youngest man into town to buy them some food, and while he was gone the other two men decided to kill him when he came back so that they could have more gold for themselves. The youngest man had the same idea. He not only bought food, but also some poison. He put poison into two of the three bottles of wine that he bought, planning to kill his two friends so he could have all the gold for himself. When he returned to his friends, they killed him. Then they drank the two poisoned bottles of wine and died themselves. All three of these young men were ready to sell their friends’ lives for some money.
The prophet Amos talked about the same kind of problem going on with God’s people. The Lord spoke through him and said that his people were selling the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. This meant that if one person wronged another one, when they went to court the judge wouldn’t give a fair judgment, but would always favor the rich person who would give him some money–maybe only enough to buy a pair of sandals! God also said that the poor and needy were being trampled into the dust. God’s laws had all kinds of safeguards for the poor. Do you remember the gleaning laws? Also, do you remember that if a poor person borrowed some money and gave his cloak as a pledge, the other person was supposed to give it back by that evening so he would have something warm to sleep in? Poor people, and especially women without husbands and children without fathers, were supposed to be given extra care and protection. But when God spoke through Amos, his people were ignoring these laws. They were ready to sell people’s lives and needs for money.
Exactly the opposite thing happened between us and God. We were all poor and needy and helpless because of our sins. We couldn’t help ourselves, but God was sorry for us and sent Jesus to save us. Jesus would have given all the money in the world to save us, but that wouldn’t have been enough. Saving us cost Jesus his life. Instead of gold or silver, Jesus bought us with his blood. We have life with Jesus now and forever because he loves us and valued us enough to die for us.
Dear Jesus, thank you for buying us with your blood and giving your life to save us. Amen.
Chaucer, Geoffrey “The Pardoner’s Tale” The Canterbury Tales