I remember, years ago, going on a summer adventure trip with my youth group. I had just graduated from high school, and this was my last hoorah trip. It was a weeklong camp in the mountains just outside Colorado Springs, and it was awesome. Each day brought a different adventure: rappelling and mountain climbing, high ropes courses, white water rafting, and a 14,000-foot peak climb.
On one of the first days, a group of friends and I decided to go do some hiking up one of the nearby trails that wove its way up to a scenic view. We hung out on top for several minutes as we took in the view and refueled with snacks and water. Eventually we decided to make our way back down the mountain as a group, laughing the whole way.
It happened so fast, that none of us had time to react. My friend Richard, who was walking on the edge of the trail, took a wrong step and his foot slipped off the trail. Before he knew it, he was sliding and rolling down the mountainside. He fell about 50 yards before coming to a complete stop on a small ledge. If he had rolled one more foot, he would have dropped about 500 feet straight down. We were all in shock. Richard barely moved because he was so afraid, but could talk to us and told us he was okay.
From that point, everything was kind of a blur. A couple of us ran down the trail as fast as we could—this was before anyone had cell phones—and we called 9-1-1. Mountain rescue paramedics made their way up the trail, tied up their ropes, and rappelled down to Richard, and eventually were able to pull him up to safety. We were elated that he was okay, but at the same time dazed by what had happened. I watched as my friend fell down a mountain and was rescued from the fall. I was powerless to save him, and he was powerless to save himself.
I think that’s what God saw when he looked at us. He saw his people, whom he loved more than anything else in this world, fall, and they were powerless to save themselves. But unlike me watching my friend in danger, God wasn’t powerless to save us. That’s why he sent Jesus, God’s plan from the beginning—his rescue plan.
When Jesus entered the world on his rescue mission, Satan, the great enemy, the liar who helped us to stumble in the first place, knew that Jesus was the Hero. So Satan tried early on to thwart God’s rescue plan. And he used the same tactics he’s used since the beginning: lies and temptations.
After Jesus’ baptism and fasting for 40 days—the start of his earthly ministry—Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. But instead of the fruit he tempted Adam and Eve to eat, he tempted Jesus with bread, fame, and power. In the second of these temptations, the temptation of fame, Satan does something interesting. He quotes Psalm 91. He takes Jesus to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem and tells him to leap off, saying, “God will come to your rescue. ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
He was essentially saying, “Jesus, if you do this, everyone will see how amazing you are. The angels will save you when you call for them, and the people will see this and revere you. They will love you and worship you. You’ll be famous. All you have to do is forget the rescue plan and follow me.”
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” I love this. Jesus essentially says, “Satan, you know the Bible? That’s awesome. So do I, but I know it in its entirety. I don’t take things out of context. And I know my role in my Father’s plan.”
Jesus was not the one who needed rescue; he was the Rescuer. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. The God of the universe carried out the most daring rescue mission ever seen, infiltrated the stronghold of the enemy, and won us back. He rescued us from the power of Satan, but he also rescued us from ourselves—from our selfish ambition and pride. Ever since we slipped and fell in the first place, we’ve been trying to save ourselves. Yet all we’ve accomplished is to slide farther down the mountainside. Thankfully, the true Rescuer has come to save us once and for all.
Now here’s our challenge: Jesus didn’t just come to rescue you, or me for that matter. He came to rescue humanity. And we are asked to join in that rescue mission every single day—in our homes, in our schools, at our jobs. The Hero who rescued us wants us to fight alongside him. Will you answer his call?
Do your students need to hear more about God’s rescue mission for humanity? Try the Rescue Root of LeaderTreks’ Deep Discipleship curriculum. It’s 100 percent downloadable, and it comes with five Bible-based lessons with experiential activities, training videos, four bonus sermons, a comprehensive media and graphics pack, and a parent guide to connect families with what their students are learning.
About the Author
Dan Colwin is director of trips at LeaderTreks. He and his wife, Clare, live in West Chicago with their sons, Everett and Oliver, and little puggle, Roxy. They love their church family at Life Church in Wheaton, where they volunteer together in the youth group. He enjoys spending time outdoors, taking walks, having fires, reading, building Legos, working in the garden, and… Read More