One of the most popular shows on TV is Revenge. It’s the fictional story of Amanda Clarke (using the alias “Emily Thorne”) who seeks to enact revenge on the wealthy and prominent Grayson family, who framed her father for a crime he didn’t commit and had him murdered in prison. In Amanda’s unrelenting quest for vengeance, people unrelated to her tragedy are harmed and killed.
It seems many of us are drawn to dark stories of sin and intrigue. I wonder: are we equally drawn to stories of rescue and heroism?
That’s a crucial question because the Bible is the story of the greatest rescue of all time. In my last column I detailed the problem of sin: how it has made humans and the world we inhabit broken and crooked. Because of sin, we decay and die. Because of sin, we hurt ourselves and others. Because of sin, we displease God.
However, all is not lost. As we approach Thanksgiving and Advent we are reminded that the Bible proclaims the good news of the story of Jesus Christ: he became a human being; he grew into an adult; he healed sickness and raised people from the dead; he suffered; he died on the cross; he rose to new life; and he ascended into heaven where he now sits at the right hand of God the Father.
Jesus is our hero because he has rescued us from the power and bondage of sin! The Apostle Peter says “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep gone astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:24-25, NIV).
The Bible describes how this great rescue was Planned AND Powerful. First, it was God’s plan: the Apostle Peter states “He was chosen before the creation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20, NIV). The Apostle Paul told his protégé Timothy “It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life. He did this not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan long before the world began—to show his love and kindness to us through Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:9, NLT).
Second, this great rescue was Powerful. The author of Hebrews declares “…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:10,14).
Furthermore, the Apostle Paul asserts that Jesus’ death has completely overpowered the effects of sin: “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!…where sin increased, grace increased all the more…”(Romans 5:15, 20). Where sin and death abounded, grace has super abounded.
What does this mean for you? It means that even in the face of decay, death, discouragement, sin and suffering, those who place their trust in Jesus Christ have hope. I am talking about a strong hope, not a flimsy hope. Flimsy hope is “I hope the weather is nice tomorrow” or “I hope my favorite team wins.” Biblical hope is a confident assurance that God’s goodness will prevail regardless of your current circumstances.
Every day, I observe this kind of courage displayed in my church family. Whether it’s the person facing a debilitating disease, or the spouse watching their loved one slowly fading away due to Alzheimer’s, or the parent watching their child wrestle with an addiction, or a family struggling to pay their bills, they press forward, never quitting, never giving up, never losing faith.
Why? Because they know Jesus Christ has rescued them. They know that they suffer, but Jesus too suffered. They know that they will die, but Jesus too died AND rose from the dead. They know that while earth is their current home, heaven is their final home. They believe Jesus’ words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me…” (John 14:1—3, NIV).
Do you have this kind of trust in Jesus’ great rescue?