Redemption Rock

We all know the story of the Pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock in December of 1620, but do you know the story of the other famous rock in New England colonial history?  Here’s the story of that rock — Redemption Rock.

At first, relations between the Native population and the white settlers were, for the most part, good.  Sad to say a minority of the settlers mistreated and exploited the Natives and there seemed to be no end to the new arrivals.  With the might of colonial soldiers behind them, the settlers were driving the Natives further and further away from their homes. 

Finally, warriors of several tribes led by Metacomet, sachem of the Wampanoag tribe, fought back.  The whites called him “King Philip” and the skirmishes in the 1670s were called “King Philip’s War.”  (Ironically, he was the son of Massasoit, who both helped the Pilgrims and shared the first Thanksgiving with them in Plymouth in 1621.)  In terms of percentages of population, losses in this war exceeded that of the Civil War.

On February 11, 1676 (OS) they attacked the frontier post of Lancaster, about 35 miles west of Boston.  Thirteen settlers were killed and two dozen were taken captive including Mary Rowlandson (c. 1635-1711) wife of Joseph Rowlandson, the town’s pastor. Mary and the others were moved from place to place in western New England.  Mary kept her spirits up by praying and reading  from  her  bible.   Although  she was a kind, godly woman, she was one of the settlers, taking the Native’s land.

Wondering if she ever would be rescued, she asked the Natives if they would be willing to sell her back to her husband.  In what is now called Princeton, Massachusetts, about 10 miles west of Lancaster, is a granite ledge which had become a place of contact between the two civilizations.  At this ledge Mary was redeemed — bought back for a payment price — for twenty English pounds raised “by some Boston gentlemen.” The ledge has since that time been called  “Redemption Rock.”

Redemption Rock, Rte 140, Princeton, MA - photo by Janet Knapp


Mary Rowlandson’s account of her ordeal, The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, was first printed in 1682.  It became a  best seller and a classic in Colonial literature.

Another Redemption Rock

Redemption Rock should remind us of a more important rock at which redemption was secured — Calvary — where Jesus paid the price so we could be set free. 

Each member of the human race is in captivity, not to a Native tribe, but to sin, death and Satan (Romans 3:23, 6:23a).  As with Mary Rowlandson, it doesn’t matter whether we are otherwise kind and godly, or else horrible — we still sin and are in captivity.  We cannot free ourselves from this captivity by being good or doing good, important as those things are (Ephesians 2:8-9).  We need redemption, we need to be bought back for a payment price by the only one who can redeem, not “some Boston gentlemen,” but by the Son of God Himself.

On Calvary Jesus shed His most precious blood to pay that price.  Jesus knew this was His mission.  At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, John the Baptist pointed to Him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  Jesus said of himself that He came to “give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  And on Calvary, when He paid the price of redemption He cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30).  Accomplished!

If you’ve never asked Him to be your Lord and Savior, do so today.   Give thanks to God for what Jesus did for you at that first Redemption Rock.  Live for Him and tell others the Good News.  +

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