Who doesn’t enjoy a good action movie, especially the ones involving top-secret rescue missions? Some of my favorite scenes in these movies are the sequences showing the commandos preparing for battle: putting on their camouflage, greasing their faces with paint, and strapping on weapon after weapon! Then, under cover of darkness, they set off stealthily into the jungle to rescue prisoners of war from their evil captors.
Four thousand years ago, our heavenly Father quietly began preparations for a rescue operation of his own. Starting with the “yes” of one faithful man, Abraham, he planted a family tree that would soon blossom into an entire nation: the people of Israel. By the time of David, about a thousand years after Abraham, Israel had become a powerful kingdom in its own right. Finally, after preparing the Israelites for another thousand years, God sent his Son into the midst of his chosen people. Like a commando from heaven, Jesus plunged bravely into this jungle of ours, on a mission to save us from sin and death.
We are like the prisoners in the rescue movies, held captive by bad guys in the middle of the jungle. Our prisons are small mud huts, with only the hard ground to sleep on. Our faces are emaciated with hunger, our clothes in tatters, and our bodies stained by mud and bruises. Suddenly one day there is great commotion in the camp, and before we even have time to realize what is going on, the doors of our prisons are flung open and blinding daylight is spilling in!
As our eyes adjust to the daylight, we see that it is Jesus, all decked out in battle gear and sweaty from fierce combat! Our hearts leap with joy as he cries out, “I have come to rescue you! I know you are weak, but I will support you. I know that you are hungry, but I will feed you. I know that you are broken, but I will heal your wounds. Come with me! I have defeated your enemies! Come with me! I will lead you to safety and freedom!”
Jesus has destroyed sin and death, breaking down the walls of our prison. Without his commando-like victory at Calvary, none of us could ever be saved. He is there, standing in the doorway, reaching down to pull us into the daylight. But sometimes, rather than grasping his hand, we decide we kind of like our mud huts. We like our lives the way they are, dirt and rags and all, so instead of following Jesus out of the hut we turn away from him and hold on even tighter to our cell walls.
This Christmas, as we celebrate this rescue mission thousand of years in the making, perhaps we can ask ourselves, “What is keeping me from following Jesus more fully?” Maybe there is a family member or friend whom you refuse to forgive and reconcile with. Maybe you struggle with sinful weaknesses that are hurting your relationship with God or others. Maybe there are things in your life that are not bad in themselves, like career or hobby or sport, yet have become idols causing you to neglect your walk with Christ. What things are you clinging onto, while the Lord is standing at the door, beckoning you to freedom?Christmas, Jesus, Salvation History