John 3.16-17 sums up the purpose of Christmas …
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (CEB)
Christmas is God’s rescue mission to save the world!
The language of rescue and salvation is prominent throughout the Christmas story. The angel said to Mary, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus” (Luke 1.31, CEB). To Joseph, the angel added, “you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1.21, CEB). Jesus came to save and rescue!
Mary’s Song is filled with rescue imagery …
With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. … He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed. He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, just as he promised to our ancestors … (Luke 1.46-55, CEB)
After the birth of John the Baptist, his father, Zechariah, regained his voice and spoke a prophetic word, filled with the language of rescue …
Bless the Lord God of Israel because he has come to help and has delivered his people. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in his servant David’s house, just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago. He has brought salvation from our enemies and from the power of all those who hate us. He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and remembered his holy covenant, the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham. He has granted that we would be rescued from the power of our enemies so that we could serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live. You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way. You will tell his people how to be saved through the forgiveness of their sins. Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace. (Luke 1.68-79, CEB)
On the night Jesus was born, angels appeared to shepherds, and said …
I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. (Luke2.10-11, CEB)
Our Savior came to rescue us from our sins. Christmas is God’s rescue mission to save the world!
When Jesus was 8 days old, his parents presented him at the Temple. Simeon was there, and after speaking with Jesus’ family, prayed …
Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word, because my eyes have seen your salvation. You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples. (Luke 2.29-32, CEB)
The prophet Anna, an 84 year-old widow, was also there. Scripture tells us she “approached at that very moment and began to praise God and to speak about Jesus to everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2.38, CEB)
Christmas is about God’s redemption. It’s a story of rescue. Christmas is God’s rescue mission to save the world!
After talking about this in my Christmas Eve sermon, I shared two items on my Christmas wish list: 1) everyone in attendance will be rescued, and 2) everyone will become part of God’s rescue team!
God doesn’t want “anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives” (2 Peter 3.9, CEB). Once rescued, we become part of God’s rescue mission to save the world!
Have you been rescued? Are you serving on God’s rescue team, part of God’s rescue mission to save the world?