The world was captivated by the rescue of the Chilean miners. There hasn’t been such a risky and yet encouraging story in the news media for a long time. Here in Mongolia we were equally riveted to the tube, watching the rescue all night until the last man was brought out of the hole. The audience of our station, Eagle TV, made calls, and wrote letters thanking us for our coverage of the rescue. Mining is to Mongolia what oil is the Arabian peninsula. So as you can imagine, Mongolians were very interested in the fate of the Chilean miners.
While we were all riveted to the TV to watch the rescue something else grabbed my attention. I saw the Gospel in the rescue of the miners. Consider what natural parallels there were to the Christian life.
First, just as the Chilean miners were trapped, so too we are trapped in our sins. Unless they could be dug out the miners had no hope of escape. So too we need someone to dig us out of our sin. We are trapped without a rescuer.
Second, we are unable to rescue ourselves. The 33 chilean miners could not hope to dig their way out of their 400-meter pit. Perhaps they could have started, but how would they have climbed? To what could they have braced themselves to the walls and hope to make their way out of the hardened rock? No, there was no way out of the pit by their own efforts. So too, we cannot rescue ourselves and make our way into Heaven or God’s good graces on our own effort. Without a rescuer we are trapped.
Third, the rescue of the Chilean miners was a cooperative effort. Ingenuity, technology, and cooperation between NASA, the Chilean Navy, and Japanese experts, and others combined to make the rescue of the miners possible. Just like us, our salvation is a cooperative effort. The Father planned and commanded our salvation to be carried out. Jesus went on the rescue mission. And the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus for the work of effecting our salvation. Not only that, but it took someone—a normal human being—to tell us about Jesus, led by the Spirit. Jesus did not effect our rescue alone.
Fourth, rescuers had to go down the hole to help the men they were rescuing before a single miner came up the hole. So too, Jesus’ traveled down to our level to meet us, to make our rescue possible. Had not God become a man in Christ there could have been no rescue from our sin.
Fifth, when the miners finally came up the hole they were immediately greeting by Chilean president Sebastian Pinera. President Pinera was right there to welcome the miners to their new freedom. So too, it is the King of Heaven, Jesus Christ, that meets us when we abandon our sin and let him save us by his power.
Sixth, as the miners stepped out of the rescue vehicle into their new freedom the crowds cheered and the TV audience rejoiced. An impossible work was done to rescue those men! So too, when we are rescued from our sin an impossible work is accomplished by Christ in us and the angels of Heaven cheer at the work accomplished by the Savior.
Seven, the miners’ rescue is permanent. They may one day go back into the mine and continue their work, but their salvation from that dark prison will never hold them again. Likewise, our salvation is permanent. Jesus said that nothing can remove us from the Father’s hands once he has taken hold of us. Our salvation is permanent.
Missiologist Don Richardson wrote in his book, Eternity In Their Hearts, that every person has an Old Testament in their lives. By this he means that all of us have experiences we can look to in our lives that are parallels to what the Old Testament is to the Jews, and us. The OT is there to guide us to an understanding of the Christ to come. It is, as Paul said, a “tutor” to lead us to faith in Jesus. So too, there are experiences we have, even before coming to know Christ, that can help us see our need for a Savior.
The experience of the Chilean miners is an Old Testament experience that for the person looking with open eyes and an open heart, can see the salvation of God.
Tom Terry is President of Eagle Broadcasting Company in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Learn more about Tom and his ministry at www.thomasterry.com.