2003-04-03 - Rescue
Matt 18:12-14 "What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 13 "And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 "Thus it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. (NAS)
With all of the harsh reality of the war that has been playing out in the media across the world, there was a small bright flash of good news. An American Prisoner of War was rescued and returned to the relative safety of friendly forces. Brief statements from her family credit God with protecting the young lady and her family. The rescue was called a miracle by one man. While I'm sure the young Private was holding out hope, the situation she was in mentally was fairly grim. The thought of rescue or escape had to be constant in her mind. But realistically the odds of escape were very narrow at best. The soldier's freedom was bought with a price of intelligence, planning and courage on the part of the rescue party.
There are similarities to our spiritual situation that are unfolding here. Before we came to know Jesus, even though in many cases we were not aware of it, our situation was desperate. We were a heartbeat from being separated from the love of God for all time and eternity. We were trapped in our sins, in some cases literally addicted to drugs, alcohol or other bit of fare the world has to offer. In the Old Testament, Joseph was dropped into a hollowed out hole by his brothers. There was no way for him to climb out without help. This is a picture of our situation without Christ.
Enter the price of our redemption from this pit known as sin: Jesus' death and resurrection. His suffering, bleeding and painful but willing death on the cross in our place rescued us. We were powerless to escape on our own. Was there planning involved? From before the beginning of time God knew that Adam and Eve would sin and fall, and the Trinity already had the plan to redeem mankind in hand. Was there courage required? The suffering of Jesus on the cross certainly had a physical facet: nails through His hands and feet, a crown of thorns jammed into his scalp, dehydration and 39 lashes that routinely killed the recipient. And there was physical death to taste. The greater portion of the suffering occured when the Father turned His back on His Son as Jesus took upon Himself the sin of the world, past, present and future. That was the cup He asked the Father to allow to pass by if it were possible. But the cup was the only way. And so Jesus drank it to the bitter dregs. This is the only recorded moment in time when the Father and the Son have been separated in all of eternity past and future. Courage was involved.
While we can take a moment to rejoice in the freedom that has been given to us, I would ask that we look beyond ourselves today. Soldiers and civilians on both sides of this conflict want only to return home safe and well. Children want their fathers back. Parents want their sons and daughters home safely. There is already suffering and destruction that will last for years that has played out of this conflict. Let's pray for a swift end to the war. For healing and reconstruction, and the understanding and wisdom to avoid in the future if at all possible. Pray for the Iraqi people as well as our soldiers.
Jesus warned His gathered disciples that there would be wars and rumours of wars until He returns. We have not been disappointed over the last 20 centuries. Rather than war weary nations, we see a stream of refugees and suffering that seems endless.
Come quickly Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus - we rejoice in the return of this one to safety. Just as the good shepherd left the 99 to find the one lost sheep, you found us. We ask Your will be accomplished in the end of this war, that people are set free from oppression and are open to the gospel. Bring the men, women and children on both sides home safely touched by Your mercy and grace. Amen.
Grace & Peace,