The 911 Gospel

Whenever we have an emergency in our culture that requires assistance, we send police, and/or firefighters, or paramedics to the scene. But they don’t sneak up on us; they come with great attention drawn to their coming. Colored flashing lights and loud sirens communicate that a rescue of some sort is being staged. Someone is in distress and needs emergency help.

 But what if the whole world needed rescuing? Who would we call? Who could handle the job?  We have learned that our world, even trying to unite in a United Nations, cannot solve worldwide problems, in fact, they can rarely solve even local problems.

In our favorite stories, there is always some kind of hero that comes to the rescue. Today, superheroes are all the rage. There is Iron Man, Spider Man, Super Man, the Green Lantern, Thor, and others. In one way or another, they come to rescue the world, or a city from imminent and terrible danger. In fact, recently there was a new movie out, called The Avengers. In this story, the enemy and the danger is so great that no one of these heroes alone could save the world despite their great powers, it took all of them working together, and then the world just barely escapes. The idea is that without these heroes, without their intervention, our world would be lost.

In the New Testament, we read the story of a world that was in need of saving, and so God sent His Son, Jesus, on a divine search and rescue mission. Today, we have been trained to call 911 if there is a real emergency. The Gospel of Luke will point out that an emergency had arisen that threatened the whole world, and that we needed rescuing. As the story begins we have bright lights, angels appearing miraculously, and our super hero rescuer suddenly and dramatically appearing in the mighty form of a …baby!

 It seems strangely anticlimactic. He seems almost the anti-hero. He has supernatural powers—but never uses them to force anyone to do anything, never uses them to keep Himself from being belittled or attacked. He uses His power only to heal and help others, never to protect Himself against the bad guys. In fact, in His greatest battle with the world’s mortal enemy, Satan, His only weapon is God’s Word, the truth.

 But His mission is not to win by overcoming His enemies; because as we learn, the only way to ultimately win this epic battle is by dying at their hands. He is, we are aghast to find out, on a suicide mission. However, unlike those being practiced today by religious zealots—the only One harmed in the explosion—is Him…and all the forces of Hell.

If He had acted like a typical human hero—he would have vanquished the enemy in a great battle and then faded gloriously into the sunset. But He didn’t, because our great enemy wasn’t some powerful external enemy threatening us, it was something inside of us, infecting us. We were being destroyed from the inside out, and like the alien science fiction movies, an alien substance had contaminated not only our world—but every human being. At first we welcomed this strange infection, thinking it would set us free, only when it was too late did we recognize the danger. It’s called sin. It was so deadly that the presence of it in the Garden of Eden was enough to force an eviction—an eviction we are still experiencing.

 We tried everything against this alien invasion infection down through the years, because we all recognized it. We tried self discipline, religion, asceticism, laws, governments, philosophy, science, psychology, but nothing worked. Sin was here to stay and wherever sin was, humanity deteriorated further. We eventually began to believe there simply was no solution; we would just have to learn to live with this contamination.

 Until one day a strange and compelling star appeared in the East. Wise men followed it to see what it was all about. Then angels suddenly appeared to a group of shepherds, lighting up the dark night sky with light, sound, and spectacular supernatural activity. And a baby was born in a way no baby had ever been born before. It was born without the alien infection. The Holy Spirit conceived a child in the womb of a young Jewish virgin. And our hero had come. The rescue was on.
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