Wednesday, December 7, 2011

“Advent Rescue” (2 Timothy 4:18)

S-1283 2MIA/3B 12/11/11 Hymns: All from LSB (O) #353; S# Under the Tree Tune 817; #358; (C) #364

Text: Psalm 31:1-4; Genesis 14:13-20; Daniel 6:14-25; Luke 23:36-43

Theme: “Advent Rescue” (2 Timothy 4:18)

Question: “Have you been rescued?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 2nd Midweek in Advent is from 2 Timothy: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:18)

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Saints in Christ, here we are already into the second week of Advent marching towards the Festival of the Nativity of the Rescuer of the world—Jesus the heaven-sent Savior.

Tonight’s sermon brings many memories to me, because it affects me personally—since I have witnessed the power of rescue first hand-in the life of my youngest brother. One day, we saw a young black man walk by, and I told my youngest brother Adnan (about 6 years old) to say “Cuhsi” (Hebrew for a black man) a derogatory term to be sure. When Adnan spoke the word “Cushi”, the black man who appeared to me a giant, grabbed my brother by the neck and lifted him up until I saw his eyes bulging. I thought my brother was going to die and couldn’t stop him. My oldest sisters took their hard soul slippers and began to beat him to no avail. I ran to my father, who came to the rescue. He spoke kindly to the black man and explained that my brother didn’t understand the term. He released my brother and my father invited him over for a cup of tea. All was well.

And thus, the topic of rescue is engaging and affects each and every one of us. In 2 Timothy the context for Paul is poignant. He writes from a prison in Rome. (2 Tim. 1:16-17) He knows he is about to be put to death, by beheading. Paul knows the heartaches first-hand. He has already been deserted by everyone; yet, with the Lord’s help, so successfully defended him that he “was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” (2 Tim. 4:16-17)

Now he is alone again, except for one individual. Luke, the beloved physician is with him. Before Paul is put to death he hopes to see “his beloved child in the faith” Timothy one more time. But Paul must reconcile himself with the reality that Timothy may not make it there before Paul, loses his life.

So Paul writes this letter, just in case. He writes this letter as a last will and testament. In this letter he bids Timothy to fight the good fight of faith. Guard the gospel and be guarded by it. No matter what, keep telling people about God’s love and rescue story. Keep telling people how Jesus Christ came into the world to rescue sinners. (1Timothy 1:15) Keep telling people we are rescued by grace alone. Keep telling people how Jesus came into this world, this world of enemy occupied territory, to be born for us, to die for us, and conquer death for us. The whole life of the Savior from front to finish was one rescue mission.

Even looking death in the face eyeball to eyeball, Paul is confident that the rescue mission of our Lord Jesus will end up short of nothing but eternal life in heaven. Hear his confession The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for His heavenly Kingdom.

Christmas time is a time when we pause to consider all that Jesus Christ went through to deliver us, save us, rescue us and set us free. The story goes back thousands of years even before Jesus was born. In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve chose to put themselves and their posterity in horrible slavery.

Intoxicated with power, seduced by a lie, they bit into a false promise and ushered into the world death, war, pain, poverty, rape, murder, greed, laziness, false witness, and every evil that now marks this fallen world and entrapped it forever and destined it to hell.

There decision to rebel was beyond dreadful. To rescue them from themselves as well as rescue their offspring, Jesus already comes to them in the Garden. He promises to rescue them by crushing the head of the one who seduced them into sin. That first gospel promise contained with it that the rescue mission would be costly. Jesus Himself would be stricken, smitten, and afflicted by the old evil foe for their sin. The rescue mission was to be cosmic, to the death, and so costly that to this day the angels in heaven cannot grasp it and neither can we.

Throughout the Bible there are so many love and rescue stories. Jesus’ pardoning love comes into the heart of His followers again and again forming them not only into loving creatures but courageous people who rescue others. Take Abraham as an example. He was not the most courageous of men when Jesus called him out of darkness to be His dear child. We see that in how he tried to pawn off his wife Sarah to save his own hide.

Yet over time the promises of God, the love of Christ, and the goodness of God began to slowly shape the character of Abraham. He knew first-hand the power of rescue. He was about to offer his son Isaac with the knife, when the Angel of the Lord rescued Isaac and offered a Ram instead for a sacrifice. Later on, Abraham comes to the rescue of His kidnapped nephew Lot with his 318 men. To rescue Lot Abraham must go up against far superior forces in terms of numbers. Yet the love of Christ that rescued him moved him in turn to rescue his nephew.

Again, we see it in the case of Gideon. Jesus as the Angel of the Lord came to Gideon giving him powerful promises. Through the Word of God Gideon was clothed with the Spirit (Judges 6:33) and took 300 soldiers against thousands of enemy soldiers in order to rescue God’s people from slavery, oppression, and unfathomable cruelties.

Other Old Testament believers in Jesus were continually raised up to rescue God’s people. There was a pattern throughout the Old Testament. God would rescue and restore repeatedly but the majority of His people would riot and rebel preferring slavery over freedom, lust over love, greed over godliness.

God sought to rescue His children above all through the teachings of the prophets which were designed to set people free and reveal God’s pardoning love. But like a dog going back to eat its vomit, the children of Israel so often went back to living lives that took them and their posterity into living like the cutthroat people around them. These people would murder their children, eat their own flesh, engage in drug trafficking, and torture minorities in most wicked of fashions.

Ultimately God’s rescue mission would need to go well beyond the lives of frail, fallible kings and broken hearted prophets. They tried their best to rescue Israel and anyone open to the truth, but the hearts of people were turned inward, too intent on making man the measure of things, rather than finding freedom in submitting to God’s royal rule of love.

So God did the unthinkable. Like my father rescued my son from death, He sent His only Son to rescues all of His sons and daughters. The Angel of the Lord took on human flesh and entered the world as a baby in order to rescue mankind. In order to rescue mankind He would have to accomplish monumental feats. For one, He would need to fulfill perfectly the law—never once sinning in thought, word, and deed. He would need to drink a cup of suffering infinitely greater than anyone else had ever drunk in order to pay for the sins of the world. He would need to suffer more pain, endure more shame, and ultimately die the most wretched and horrific death in history in order to rescue mankind. This wretched, horrifying, incomprehensible death would include suffering hell for all mankind. The rescue mission meant going to hell and back for us.

Even, while the Rescuer of the world was experiencing hell from the cross, His arms of love and mercy where not short to help those who cry out to Him. 6 feet away from Him, from another cross, a son of Adam cried out, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” And He did and He does even you beloved ones.

In the details of this rescue mission the gospel writers make every effort to tell us valuable details as to the incredible love of Christ displayed for us to rescue us. It is not only what Jesus did but how He did it that is so impressive. To think that God Himself would descend in love for us into such depths of shame, such heights of pain and such infinite lengths of rejection for our acceptance leaves us blessedly baffled.

This rescue mission was planned before the foundation of the universe, kicked into high gear with Jesus conception, birth, death and resurrection, and will reveal its full fruits when Jesus reappears again. Until then Jesus gives us sturdy lifelines of love to deliver us from every evil—Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, His love through the saints and His promises. In these we have all we need; BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN RESCUED! AMEN.

Now the peace of God...


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