We Need a Savior
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. . . The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14).
Most parents know the gut knotting fear that gradually blooms to a full-grown panic when their child gets lost, nowhere to be seen.
Ordinarily, the panic is short-lived in most of those moments. We shout their name and look around, or scream their name and run around, only to discover after a few minutes that they had been innocently misplaced. We calm down and our minds let go of imagined stories of kidnapping or worse.
Imagine, however, the panic of realizing a child is lost – and then finding them in a place where they cannot be reached. You know exactly where the child is, but there’s nothing you can do. The child doesn’t simply need to be found. What is needed is a rescue.
That’s what happened in Midland, Texas in October of 1987. Jessica McClure, 18 months old, was playing in her aunt’s back yard when she stepped into an open well – basically a large pipe in the ground. Her little body slipped down the pipe, 22 feet beneath the surface of the ground, until she was wedged there with one leg above her head.
For the next 58 hours the entire nation was fixated on ‘baby Jessica’ and the drama playing out in Midland, Texas. How would this little girl be extricated from that pipe? There’s one plan that was never attempted, and another plan that was the only one that would work.
The plan that was never attempted was any plan that asked baby Jessica to participate in her own rescue. Not once did anyone seem to try lowering a rope into the pipe while urging her to grab it and pull. Jessica didn’t need encouragement. She didn’t need someone to coach her or instruct her as to how to get free. She didn’t need someone to help her. She needed someone to come down and get her.
And that’s the plan that unfolded. The only plan that would work. Engineers drew up a plan to drill a parallel hole into the earth next to the pipe where Jessica was stuck. They went deep enough to then drill into the well pipe just beneath the baby. Someone went down that hole, took that little girl into their arms, and brought her out. Had that not happened, Jessica would have died in that pipe.
More than a Role Model
Was Jesus a teacher? No doubt. Did Jesus model a life of perfect obedience to God? Absolutely. Did he with word and deed show us an ethic of love for God and neighbor? Yes to both. And if we stop there, we’ve got a problem. We’ve got a problem because the reality of our life demands something more than good teaching and an exemplary life. We need a savior.
At the Red Sea God’s people realized they were in a situation that went beyond their capacity to manage. They saw an Egyptian force that they could not fight, trapped at the edge of a body of water that they could not move. They did what most of us do in moments like that. They complained and they blamed and they dreamed of the good ol’ days.
In the midst of their panic Moses spoke: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. . . The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Deliverance comes from the Lord. We stand still and watch what God does. Yes – at some point we respond to God’s saving work, answering his grace as we take the next step in faith. But we don’t do so in order to be rescued. We do so because we’ve been rescued.
Great effort and expense went into the rescue of baby Jessica. All those people, all that time, all that work for one little girl. God has likewise gone to great lengths to rescue his children, to rescue you. God came to us in Jesus and went to the cross. Nothing short of that would do.
If you’ve not answered that act of grace, maybe now is the time. “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
We give you thanks, O God, for your saving work in our lives. Thank you for rescuing us when we could not rescue ourselves. Help us to answer your grace every day by responding to you in steps of faith and obedience, we ask in the name of your son Jesus. Amen.
Mark H. Crumpler
Grace Church Bethlehem