McMinnville Seventh-day Adventist Church


Rescue or Recovery?

Recently when the Germanwings Flight 9525 Airbus A320 went missing over the French Alps, an immediate alert went out to prepare for a rescue mission. Once the crash site was located, it was immediately clear that this would not be a rescue, but rather a recovery mission. It’s so sad when this happens. Hope fades and turns to disbelief, sadness, and the reality of finality.

Something like this happened about two millennia ago on a hill outside of Jerusalem – a mock trial, a gruesome beating, a cruel crucifixion, and a silent burial in a stranger’s hillside tomb. It was on the third day, with no hope of rescue, as a few sad and mournful women walked to the hillside tomb to embalm the body of their Friend (Luke 24:1). On arrival, they saw an open and empty tomb. What did they think? Their first thoughts were of recovery. What had happened to His remains? When the two angels at the empty tomb were questioned, they said, “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen.” (Matthew 28:6 NLT). He had told them before, but it did not register. Mary asks the “gardener,” “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” (John 20:15 NKJV) This was RECOVERY. Mary had given up hope of RESCUE. She was thinking of a dead body. Only when He mentioned her name, “Mary,” did she recognize His voice, fall at His feet and embrace Him. Rescue replaced recovery.

What lessons can I learn from this encounter?

1. That my search may be limited by what I’m accustomed to. My focus too, may be to look for a dead body, instead of a living Being. How can this be? Most heathen or non-Christian religions are fatalistic. They accept what is as what will be, sadness and sorrow, laughter and joy, all alternate cyclically like winter and summer, like day and night. Is it possible that I too may be caught up in the subtle cycle of this world to the extent that I lose my vision and hope of the promised change, we often refer to as the second coming? If Jesus is alive, then so are His promises (John 14:3).

2. That my search may be limited by my belief in science. Science tells us what is possible and what is impossible, and we are conditioned to believe it. What was the disciples’ response when they heard about the empty tomb from the women? The women’s message “seemed like pure nonsense to them, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11 NET). The realm of the supernatural cannot be investigated or verified by the scientific method. It, however, becomes our default when we assess life’s experiences. We forget that God is the God of science and that His science is bigger than our puny little discoveries that only scratch the surface of His creation.

3. That my search may be limited by my belief in my own ability. I can handle this. I have done it before. I’m not weak. I don’t need help. Prayer is only a last resort, like a magical tool used only in emergencies. This, too, is not always self-evident. It is a very subtle phenomenon. It is Laodicean in nature. I fool myself that I can do it, when deep inside my motive is not to appear weak or helpless. It’s hard to ask for help. What have I learned from this? I have learned that it is okay to depend on others for help, advice, and counsel. And when it comes to God, it’s okay to be in prayerful communication with Him all the time, and that He enjoys my company. He does not think of me as weak or a nuisance. He does not humiliate me. He is happy when I live in constant communion and dependence upon Him. I’m so glad Mary risked to ask the “Gardener” for help, aren’t you?

May this month of remembrance of the cross and the resurrection be a time where your attempts at searching will be rewarded by your own RESCUE, instead of a recovery.

- Pastor Jerry Joubert