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  • Writer's pictureSteven Marsh

Jesus Christ Rescues Us, But Not in the Way Expected: a Reflection on Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revela

It has been called the greatest rescue mission of World War II.

Late in that war, American bombers were sent on dangerous missions over southern Europe to cripple the Nazis’ oil supplies…Many American pilots were forced to bail from…their planes. The…airmen drifted by parachute into occupied Yugoslavia…

…on the ground remarkable rescue teams were…in place. Serbian peasants tracked the path of the floating flight crews. Their sole mission was to grab the flyboys and bring them to safety…

To travel to the evacuation site, the airmen had to spend weeks following the Serbian freedom fighters, who alone knew the path to the evacuation site…

…Operation Halyard sheds light on an important spiritual reality: to be rescued from something sets us on the path toward something.

For the airmen it was a journey of survival. For us it’s a journey of faith. Christ rescues us then he points us to the path of following him.[1]

It’s all about Jesus. Whatever despair, discouragement, and doubt you bring to church this day, a new way of living is available to you. On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, Jesus says in the Gospel of John, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”[2] The Psalmist boldly declares, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”[3]

God’s goodness and mercy for and toward creation will never cease.

“The Lord is my shepherd.” The word “lord” can be an impersonal term meaning master or owner. But for Christians, it is very personal. The Hebrew word translated “Lord” is Yahweh, the personal name of God. Yahweh is our shepherd, not some distant or nameless deity.

God, our shepherd, is good and merciful. And, we benefit from God’s goodness and mercy even in our undeserving condition. God “follows us” actively, like a shepherd pursues a lost sheep; not passively like a shadow. We will not lack anything that the shepherd determines we need.

In the reading from Acts, we learn that it was God, in goodness and mercy, who raised Tabitha from the dead. We understand the tension described in Revelation that Christians worship the good and merciful shepherd, yet are tempted to worship power, position, and privilege.

In the Upper Room for the Passover meal, Jesus set the stage for his death on the cross to make the way possible for the consequences of original sin to be “passed over.” By participating with Jesus, through faith, we understand and experience how his death was a substitution for your death, my death, all of humanity’s death. As we partake of the Lord’s Supper, be reminded that you have been and continue to be rescued by God in goodness and mercy.

The Lord is our shepherd. You will be rescued from immobilizing despair, discouragement, and doubt. Be a follower of Jesus. You will experience the goodness and mercy of God today, tomorrow, and all the days of your life.

[1]Adapted from Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition (Crossway, 2010), 63-64.

[2]John 10:27-28

[3]Psalm 23:6

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