What do these movies have in common? Argo, Armageddon, Die Hard, Toy Story, Black Hawk Down, Escape from New York, Aliens, Eight Below, True Lies, Taken, and Rescue 21? The title of the last film gives the answer away… these are all rescue movies. Some rescue family members, some soldiers, some friends, others rescue creatures, some rescue "innocents", some whole planets, and some rescue toys!
Some rescue stories employ the literary device, "deus ex machina" (Latin: "god from the machine"), where there is a sudden introduction of a character that rescues or resolves a story that would, otherwise, end tragically. The phrase comes from ancient Greek dramas where a machine is used to bring actors playing gods onto the stage. The machine could be either a crane used to lower actors from above or a riser that brought actors up through a trapdoor. The Greek poet/playwright, Horace, admonished fellow creators they should never resort to a "god from the machine" to resolve their plots "unless a difficulty worthy of a god's unraveling should happen."
Jesus IS the ultimate "deus ex machina" because the world faces a tragic "difficulty worthy of God's unraveling." Paul, in Romans, declares that all people have sinned against God. Gentiles have sinned by dishonoring the Creator and choosing idolatry. The Jew has sinned by dishonoring God, His Law, and their purpose as His people. He tells the story of a world captive to sin and careening towards a self-driven destruction that is inevitable given the trajectory of the story. But this story takes an unexpected turn when Paul announces, "But now… " (Romans 3.21). This story has a Redemptive Intruder who doesn't need a machine to lower Him or a crane to raise Him. Hallelujah! This is the Gospel and we are among the "characters" Jesus came to save!