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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’”—1 Timothy 1:15 (NLT)
Daring rescues are one of the most common narratives found in film. From Black Hawk Down to Captain Phillips to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the rescue mission is often an exciting and chaotic narrative. The most famous rescue plot in films is probably Saving Private Ryan. The film centers around Captain John Miller, played by Tom Hanks, and his ragtag group of soldiers who go behind enemy lines to rescue Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat.
The rescue mission trope engulfs us in a captivating tale involving a dynamic hero who does whatever it takes to save the victim from a nefarious antagonist. If done right, it can be literary or cinematic gold—literally, as Saving Private Ryan took home five Academy Awards and two Golden Globes.
What is it that draws us to these types of stories? Why do we get so much satisfaction and joy in seeing someone rescued. Maybe it’s the excitement and action, but I think it’s something more. I believe it’s because we are literally living out a rescue story . . . the greatest rescue story in history.
Today’s verse says that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” The word used by Paul here is sōsai, which means “to rescue; to deliver out of danger, to rescue from destruction and bring into divine safety.” You see, according to Romans 5:12 (PHILLIPS), “Sin made its entry into the world through one man, and through sin, death. The entail of sin and death passed on to the whole human race, and no one could break it for no one was himself free from sin.”
We were, as Paul claimed, slaves to sin, which “brings condemnation for everyone” and makes us hostages to death. But, because God loves us so deeply, He sent His Son into the world to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 ESV), “in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live” (Galatians 1:4 NLT).
Our hero and Savior, Jesus Christ, came into the world for this very reason. And because He did this, we who believe in Him and receive Him “will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17 NLT). This is what makes this time of the year so wonderful!
Now, here’s something I don’t want you to miss: Paul says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” . . . but his thought doesn’t end there. He continues, “And I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-20 NLT).
Each time I read this verse, I substitute Paul for myself. So, instead of Christ came to save sinners, of whom Paul is the worst, I read, “And Danny is the worst of them all.” I encourage you to do the same! Why? Because we are all equal in our sinfulness. No one is righteous, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV). And if God saved Paul to use him so others could come to faith, He can use you and me, too!
The Christmas story is our story! It’s the story of how we were rescued by Jesus from the clutches of sin and death, even though we were guilty; of how it has the power to change the lives of all mankind—every person, no matter how far gone they may seem; and of how we should share it with everyone we meet, because we want others to experience it for themselves.
As we close this 21-day journey, I pray you feel inspired and compelled to tell the world the beauty of the Christmas story. I pray we will be used by God this upcoming year to change our homes, neighborhoods, schools, jobs, city, and world!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.