Christmas - Heaven's Rescue Mission!December 5, 2023
Christmas is about an incredible mission effort from Heaven to bring liberation to a sinning people and suffering planet. Christmas was the occasion of God the Father sending God the Son to the Middle East on a deadly rescue mission.
Jesus said in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;”
In John 4:34, we read, “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’”
Again, we read in John 6:38: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
In Galatians 4:4, Paul writes: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law.”
Finally, in 1 John 4:14, we read: “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.”
Rescue missions in the Middle East usually fail. One such case in point was the Iranian hostage crisis (November 4, 1979 – January 20, 1981). This was a tense diplomatic standoff between the governments of the United States and Iran in which Iranian militants held 52 American citizens hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran for 444 days. President Carter, exasperated by the failed negotiations, authorized a military rescue mission. This attempted rescue involved the US Navy. However, the mission failed and caused the death of eight service members. The need for stealth meant that the helicopters were unable to communicate with weather services or each other, and in losing this ability, they were unable to foresee the local sandstorms that were blowing through Iran. Due to the inclement weather, two aircraft collided and killed eight soldiers, and many more helicopters had to be abandoned.
In June of 1980 there was another dramatic, three-day, televised rescue attempt, this time in Italy that captured the attention of the world. Six-year-old Alfredo Rampi - a frail lad suffering from a congenital heart defect, had fallen into a well. He was wedged into a narrow crevice 113 feet down in the 260 foot deep well. As the rescue attempt got under way, the President of Italy put aside all governmental duties and came to the well site to stand by Alfredo’s mother. Those attempting to rescue him drilled a tunnel to the boy’s level and began drilling toward him. They had almost reached the boy when Alfredo, too weak to keep his grip on the muddy ledge he was clinging to slipped another 100 feet. When this happened, the entire nation was moved to tears.
A series of brave but desperate bids to lower first a very small man and then several cave explorers down the narrow well from the rescue shaft followed.
Shortly after midnight, one experienced cave explorer managed seven times in the space of one hour to reach the boy and grab his hands. But each time the muddy slime made him lose his grip.
The dramatic effort to save the boy brought thousands of calls from around the world offering advice on how to save the tiny lad.
The final effort to rescue the boy was performed by the best cave explorer in the nation. Lowered into the shaft headfirst, with ropes and pulleys attached to his ankles, Caruso managed twice to put a handcuff on Alfredo’s wrist. Both times it slipped off.
Thousands of Italians at their TV sets saw Alfredo’s mother crumple in tears as Caruso came back up, muddy, exhausted and ALONE!
A microphone lowered into the well brought Alfredo’s last words to the nation. Like a ghostly wail, the lad cried “Mamma, Mamma, until his voiced turned to an unintelligible whimper and trailed away into the silence of death. Write over this rescue mission effort - Failure.
May I suggest to you, dear reader, that these two true life stories are but a parable of the ultimate in human tragedy. For you see all mankind had fallen into the horrible, slimy pit of sin. Self-attempts at rescue were hopeless. For several thousand years many rescue attempts had been mounted but all to no avail. Was there no way out of this well of sorrow and woe; of bondage and suffering; of death and damnation?
Then on a cold winter night in a little village in Bethlehem, God answered that question with a resounding YES! On that star-filled night God sent His Son out from heaven on a designated, deadly rescue, ransom, and release mission. This rescue mission required King Jesus to lay aside the outward appearance of His God-head, the taking of the nature of man, the form of a servant, and the likeness of a sinful people.
Paul said in 1 Timothy 3:16, "great is the mystery of godliness: God was revealed in the flesh!"
The Word became flesh! God became human while never ceasing to be God! He was just as much God as if He were not man and just as much man as if He were not God! He who breathed the breath of life into the first man is now himself a man breathing his first breath. The invisible God became visible! The untouchable became touchable! God most high became God most nigh! The unlimited became limited! The infinite became finite! The omnipresent spirit, whose being fills the galaxies, confined to the womb of a peasant girl. Spirit became matter! Eternity entered time! The independent became dependent! The almighty became weak! Glory was subjected to shame! Fame turned into obscurity! The Word became flesh! Amazing, astounding, and unbelievable - except by Divine revelation and illumination!
This Divine Rescue Mission required that the sent One – Jesus the Messiah - be born of a woman, be born under the law, live a sinless life in obedience to the law’s precepts and then die a vicarious death in upholding the sentence of the law of God. He must endure the displeasure of God against sin. He must become obedient even to the point of the death on a cruel cross. He must become accursed. He must die the death of a guilty felon - deserted by His friends, derided by His enemies, forsaken of His God. He must meet and defeat legally the devil, death, sin and the grave. He must be able to bear up under the waves and billows of God’s wrath, sin’s weight, and hell’s wickedness. King Jesus must meet and defeat that ultimate victor - DEATH. The question was, could He? Would His mission be successful?
For 33 ½ years His Kingly mission met and defeated every enemy encountered. But the final phase of the rescue mission was the ultimate test. Having born in His bosom the sword of infinite justice, having experienced the full fury of God’s wrath against sin, He dismissed His spirit and entered into the dark cavernous jaws of death. The enemy that had kept all its prisoners of war. Could He come back from the prison house of skulls and skeletons? Could He overpower that evil monster that had the authority of death - the devil? Could He wrest the keys of death and hell from his hands, throw that evil jailor aside, swing back the gates of the grave, re-enter the sepulcher, see His body lying there, re-enter that body, reanimate it, resurrect it, glorify it so that death would never touch it again. Could He after three days in the tomb come out victorious, never to die again, ascend above all spiritual powers to the place of absolute preeminence at the place of absolute authority in glory? If He could do that, then He was none other than the Lord of glory that he claimed to be! Hallelujah, the truth of the Gospel is that this is exactly what He did!
When the Light of the world invaded planet earth on that first Christmas Day, through the womb of the Virgin Mary, it took 33 ½ years for the light of his glory to break through the tomb of sin and death on the first day of the first Easter week, demonstrating that liberation had come to the entire cosmos and the reversal of the curse and the release of sin and Satan’s captives was fully and victoriously under way!
And I bring you good news of great joy that God’s Sent One was successful in His rescue efforts. God’s wrath has been satisfied and His law magnified. Sin has been nullified, Heaven glorified, the devil horrified and all who put their faith in Jesus are justified, and the number of the justified are being multiplied by the millions!
So, write over King Jesus’ assignment - Mission Accomplished!
Now, we rescued sinners can now truly and joyfully sing: "Hail the Heaven born Prince of Peace, hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by; born that man no more may die; born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark the herald angels sing. Glory to the newborn King."
We can join the chorus of the “voices of ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands saying, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive glory, and power, and riches and wisdom and strength, and honor and glory and blessing!"
Truly, He is King of Kings, Forever and ever, and Lord of Lords, and He shall reign forever and ever! Hallelujah!
"O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”