The Rescue story: Boy meets girl. Fall in love. Girl captured by evil monster. Boy kills monster, gets girl. Live happily ever after.
Many of our most popular movies and TV shows are rescue stories: Die Hard, 24, The Matrix. A hero does something impossible and saves the day. Often the story ends with him getting the girl, but it might be something more than that, like Oscar Schindler rescuing hundreds of Jews from the gas chamber.
This story connects with us so powerfully because many of us (especially men) indulge a fantasy to do something heroic, and because in some way all of us need rescuing (from addictions, disappointment, mundane jobs, debt, etc.)
This is also a Bible story because Jesus is our great hero who rescues us from our most deadly enemy – Sin and death. Jesus does the impossible in going to the cross, but, just as the closing credits are about to roll, he bursts back into life unconquered and undimmed. The last enemy to be destroyed, as 1 Corinthians says, is death. This is the big one. In films, the last enemy to be destroyed is always the head villain (it wouldn’t be quite the same if Alan Rickman died half way through Die Hard, or if Jack Bauer killed the chief terrorist by 11am). The last enemy is always the most dangerous villain of all, and the reason why the other villains are there. It’s the same in Scripture. Death is the biggest of the enemies and the explanation for the others. If there was no death, there wouldn’t be any war or injustice or fear or sickness. So if you can abolish death, you can totally strip all the other enemies of their power.
And that’s the Gospel of Jesus and resurrection. On Easter Sunday, the biggest of all the villains was totally and completely undone. The tomb was empty, and it still is. And that means that at least one person has conquered the grave, smashed the last enemy, and overturned the curse of death that has afflicted every human since time began. A champion only has to be killed once. Death had a pretty strong track record, until it faced Jesus, to whom it had no answer whatsoever. His resurrection life was simply too powerful. So, as Paul taunted: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O grave, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
[Thanks to Andrew Wilson for the those last two paragraphs]
Telling our stories
Every other type of story there is (tragedy, comedy, parable, myth, legend, biography, fairytale, fable, mystery, whodunit, epic, etc.) will contain at some point these two greater stories of love and rescue.
The way that we get to know people is by listening to their stories. We need to listen to one another’s tales of love and rescue. We need to share together the stories of what God has done for us, and we need to help others see how God’s great story connects to their personal story. We need to help people see that they can actually become part of the story of God – that he is the one who loves them, and can rescue them.
This is the Easter Story.
What a story!
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