“The Greatest Love of All” - Ruth 4:13-22 – Pastor Brian
God’s redeeming love is the greatest love of all.
Have you noticed that love is not mentioned in the book of Ruth? Yet it is a beautiful picture of love. Ruth illustrates God’s supreme love using the relationship between Boaz, Naomi, and Ruth. Ruth 4:1-3 is a continuation of Ruth 3. Boaz does the right thing. Boaz knows he is the second in line to redeem Elimelech’s estate. So, he makes contact with the closest kinsmen redeemer to give him opportunity to continue Elimelech’s family name and inheritance. Ruth 4:4-12 Tells us the closest redeemer at first does the right thing and says he will buy the land from Naomi. But after finding out that Ruth the Moabite is a part of the deal, he backs out because he does not want to risk his own estate and legacy. This allows Boaz to buyout Naomi and attain Ruth as his wife.
God’s redeeming love is the greatest love of all, is especially relevant in today’s divided environment. To wear or not wear a mask causes division. Awareness of racial injustice is encouraging but it also causes division. Because of the pandemic there is even division between families and friends on the proper response to COVID 19.
Redeeming love teaches us that no matter how harsh things become or how much we fail in treating each other with love and respect, the greatest love of all, brings hope and healing. How do we know this? What evidence is there to prove this great love? How do we know that God’s redeeming love is the greatest love of all?
I. God’s redeeming love is the greatest because it’s SACRIFICIAL. (vv.6,13) Redemption is to gain or regain possession of something or someone, in exchange for payment. God’s love cost Him dearly. The redeeming love of God is the highest form of love. He exchanged His Son, Jesus in order to possess us as His people. God sacrificed His Son in exchange for our freedom from the debt of sin. Similarly, Boaz paid the price to buy out Naomi and gain Ruth as his wife at the real risk of sacrificing his own inheritance.
We see in these two verses that Boaz risked his own estate to buyout Naomi. In the first chapter of Ruth we saw how Ruth laid down her life for Naomi. Ruth SACRIFICED her homeland, her proximity to family and friends and gave her life to Naomi’s people and God.
Boaz, by redeeming Naomi and Ruth took the great risk of impairing or sacrificing his own inheritance by taking on Ruth the Moabite as his bride. Jesus said in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Ruth and Boaz are a picture of the great sacrifice Jesus made for you and me on the cross. BUT even before the cross Jesus for a moment GAVE UP His equality with God to become a humble servant, as a human. Philippians 2:5-7 “Have this in mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied (sacrificed) Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
The redeeming love of Jesus required His humble life and death that we might live eternally with Father God. This is what is meant that Jesus bought us for a price. The cost was His life for our freedom from sin just as Boaz bought Naomi and Ruth to free them from poverty and shame, Jesus bought us from the poverty and shame of sin.
How often do we think of living for the benefit of others rather than the benefit of ourselves? To think this way is sacrificial. Learning to seek and grant forgiveness is one example of living out God’s redemptive love and why His love is the highest love of all.
II. God’s redeeming love is the greatest because it’s SAVING. (vv.14-17) God’s redeeming love is extra-ordinary because it saves us. The love of God delivers us from the harmful and damaging effects of past hurt and pain. We are restored by the greatest love of all.
The redemptive love of God transformed Naomi from bitterness and disgust (Ruth 1:20 - ESV: “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.”) to sweetness and delight. God’s redeeming love draws out the bitterness of our hearts through the saving love of Jesus. The redeeming love of God saved Naomi from the bitterness and shame she endured and lifter her to a place of honor within her community. God’s love is the greatest love of all because He saves anyone who is drowning in their sins through the sacrifice of His Son and lastly...
III. God’s redeeming love is the greatest because it’s SURPRISING. (vv.18-22) Isn’t it great to be surprised? When you unexpectedly receive a gift you’ve always wanted for a long time, isn’t it exciting? The Redeeming Love of God is surprising because He gives us something even when we don’t deserve it.
We know God’s love is surprising because Naomi had no way of knowing she would be redeemed by Boaz when she first returned to Jerusalem. The redeeming love of God is also surprising as illustrated by Ruth’s place in the ancestry of Jesus the Son of God from vv. 18-22 and in Matthew 1:1 Ruth the Moabite could not imagine that through her commitment and loyalty to the God of Naomi, the King of Israel would be her great grandson, David, and more significantly she would be in the line of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah.
You may have noticed that Ruth was identified as Ruth, the Moabite, many times in this passage. Why would being from Moab be significant? Moabites were considered enemies of Israel. For an Israelite to be associated with a person from Moab was frowned upon. Ruth, the Moabite is lifted up from being invisible to being very visible in the eyes of Israel. It is surprising to read in Matthew, a book written to a Jewish audience, that God in His redeeming love included Ruth and is included along with five other women in the ancestry of Jesus. It’s worth noting that each of these women did not have a good reputation in the eyes of men. It was surprising for Jewish readers to see how God restored these women. He restored them from the depths of shame to a place of honor through faith.
God’s love is surprising because for Naomi to return from Moab to Jerusalem, the hub of Israel’s community, a widow with a Moabite daughter in law was shameful. Women and widows of that time were treated as second class, invisible people. Naomi was not only in that category but she returns to her homeland with a Moabite. The redemptive story of Naomi and Ruth reminds us that God’s Redeeming love is for the outliers, the marginalized, and invisible people. People like you and me who have been tarnished by our sin and the sins of others.
You might think your family is so dysfunctional that there is no way you would be loved and accepted by Jesus. You might even think that your life is doomed to failure or you are un-forgivable because of your past mistakes and lifestyle. That could not be further from the truth. Look at who is included in the family line of Jesus and you’ll begin to see how God’s redeeming love is not limited to anyone or group of people. Because we are in Ruth, I want us to notice the women who were singled out and shamed by their community as Ruth the Moabite was. From Matthew 1:1-16 these are the women who God redeemed: 1). Tamar - seduced her father-in-law Judah to continue the family name; 2). Bathsheba - an adulteress; 3). Rahab - a prostitute, Boaz’s mom; 4). Ruth - the Moabite, enemy of Israel. 5). Mary - was with child before marriage. Each of these women was disgraced in her community but redeemed by God‘s love as ancestors of Jesus.
It doesn’t matter who you are. Your race, sexuality, gender, or status, God’s Redeeming Love is for anyone who recognizes their sins and acknowledges that only by the blood of His Son Jesus can sins be fully paid for or redeemed. This is what is meant by the famous verse you have heard me repeat many times. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
God’s “Redeeming Love” lifts us up from our personal shame to a place of beauty and honor through Jesus. His love lifts us from the ashes of shame we feel when we have let our loved ones down by our insensitive words or hurtful actions. His love restores us from the ashes of disappointment when we discover prejudices in our hearts. His love heals us from the ashes of bitterness when we don’t want to forgive others. The “Redeeming Love” of God lifts us from the ashes of bitterness and shame to the beauty of joy and honor through His Son Jesus. The good news is that God’s “Redeeming Love” is for everyone who trusts in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The book of Ruth is truly amazing because though love is never mentioned, it’s about true love, a love that transforms, the redemptive love of God, “The Greatest Love of All.”
Praise Songs: All Creatures of our God and King, Build My Life, Worthy, Living Hope, Doxology