A life preserver is not a guarantee of smooth sailing. Sometimes it’s forewarning of a long battle overboard. Our final and perfect rescue came to earth in Jesus. Let’s celebrate the amazing grace of Jesus this Christmas: He came to save a ship-wretch like you and me…
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Sometimes God provides the perfectly placed person to illuminate his message. LJ – Levy Junior – was that guy for me last week. If you haven’t read Christmas Mourning Rescue you need to go back and have a read. The rescue of God is like being shipwrecked off the Bayou.
Levy Junior and his lovely wife Reba were placed beside us at the beach where we were relaxing on vacation. They live on the Bayou of Louisiana. LJ is a shrimp fisherman, and he told us the story of fishing in a storm. The storm hit at night, and he and his brother were out in their boats. His brother’s boat was made of wood, while LJ’s was steel. There is a natural parenthetical lesson on building your house on the rock, yet we’ll leave that for another time.
LJ’s brother’s boat was struck by a log or something similar, which punctured its hull. The winds were 100mph and you can imagine the force of currents and the debris in the water. His brother’s boat was going down. LJ brought his boat alongside his brother’s and they were trying time the moment in which his brother could jump across to safety. Great plan. They were career fishermen. They had faced storms and death before. They would get through this based on their strength and experience. That’s how we get through life, right? Based on our strength and experience.
Just as LJ had his boat in position, some debris became caught in his prop. It was rope, and it caused his engine to cut out. Immediately his boat was caught by the wind and current and separated from his brother’s boat. In no time, LJ lost sight of his brother’s boat and drifted into the night. LJ didn’t know what safety equipment his brother had available or could access. He wondered if his brother would be lost forever.
LJ tied a rope around his waist and lowered himself into the water to check his prop. He saw the tangled mess of rope and started cutting it away. The waves battered him against the motor housing. It took what seemed like hours to clear the prop. Once freed, the engine fired right up and he set his course against the current and wind, hoping his brother would be on that path still alive.
Fourteen hours later his spot light ran across three life preservers with LJ’s brother in the middle. He had worked his way back to his cabin from the deck of his sinking fishing boat and as the cabin was filling with ocean water three life preservers floated over and struck him in the chest. Now, we might think they were his saving grace, yet he still had to spend fourteen hours in the stormy ocean.
A life preserver is not a guarantee of smooth sailing. Sometimes it’s forewarning of a long battle overboard.
Israel’s promise was that Messiah would come. Their people were thrown into storms of life, of exile and battle and their own wanderings from God. They were given life preservers in the form of the prophets and also the protection of a remnant no matter the situation. God preserved his people for the day of salvation.
And then the rescue came to earth. Jesus came to bring salvation. Final and perfect. The sacrifice which would end all sacrifices. Our joy at the news of Messiah’s birth should be powered by the overwhelming relief that we are being saved from the sure eternal death which comes from the shipwreck of our sin.
Jesus is not a simple life preserver to cling to as we go through storms. He may provide life preservers for us in those storms, yet the life preservers are not Jesus. Jesus is the one who fought against the storm and was victorious. Jesus is the one who spent 14 hours looking for one lost sheep he loved as a brother. Jesus is the one who guarantees safe return to shore. By the way – it’s a celestial shore…
Imagine that feeling when his brother looked up and saw LJ’s face as he pulled him out of the water. That spirit of joy and relief and thanksgiving would have overwhelmed his whole being… Celebrate Jesus this Christmas as your final and total rescue from yourself and your sin. He came to give all of himself to save a ship-wretch like you and me…