What images do the words “Mission Impossible” bring to mind? Do you immediately start hearing the thumps of a theme song? Maybe you older ones remember Peter Graves as Mr. Phelps, while the younger crowd thinks of Tom Cruise. No doubt you remember a perfectly manicured hand striking a match and lighting a fuse that ignites a path burning its way through upcoming scenes. No matter which version you recall, they all began with a tape recorder emitting the words, “Good morning, Mr. Phelps.” A nearby envelope contained pictures of those in trouble. Then an explanation of a seemingly impossible mission always began with, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save So and So.” Without fail, the message ended with, “Should you or any member of your IM force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds. Good luck, Jim.”
In many ways this reminds me of Luke 4. Jesus had just come out of a confrontation with Satan in the wilderness to begin His ministry in a Galilean synagogue. There he was handed a scroll “envelope” containing the words from the prophet Isaiah. As He opened it I wonder if He saw pictures of those He was sent to save. Do you think He saw you and me that day? As He read, He knew the instructions were meant for Him; “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Thankfully, this is a mission Jesus chose to accept. His showdown with Satan had given Him a clear reminder of the lengths Satan would travel as he searches for those to devour. Satan could and would turn pleasure, pride, and power into gods for many. However, unlike Jim Phelps, Jesus knew the outcome of his mission ahead of time; He knew He would be caught and killed – but victory would still be His. God would never disavow Him or members who remained on His team – members like you.
Now imagine Jesus leaving a package at your doorstep. You cut the string and carefully lift the lid. This time there are two envelopes. Puzzled, you slowly open the first and slide out a single picture of you engaged in some kind of sin. It only took one to separate you from God. With head hung low, you open the second. Out slips a picture of Jesus hanging from the cross holding tightly to that paper image of you in your sin. You realize it was your sin He wanted to cover. You realize how many more of your sinful pictures He could have held onto and suddenly you fall to your knees. He’s forgiven you of so much, and now because of your acceptance of His loving grace, you rise and stand before God totally guilt free. Not only has He covered you in mercy, but He’s given you sight and released you from Satan’s grasp. His grace placed a new song of praise in your mouth. That’s when you spot the tape recorder. Dare you push ‘play’ and risk losing this inexpressible feeling of thankfulness? Of course you do, and this is what you hear,
“Good morning, Child! You are forgiven. Make yourself at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done- kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love. This is your mission, should you choose to accept it, Love each other as I have loved you. (John 10, The Message) You will succeed because you have the indestructible power of the Holy Spirit at work within you. And best of all, nothing with God is impossible! There’s no luck needed. Blessings, my Child.”
Cue the music. Strike the match! Thump, thump … thump, thump, thump, thump.