In the last four months we have been treated to the stories of two good men who came through in a tough situation and saved lives. The first was Captain Chesley Sullenberger on the US Air flight back in January. This week we had another story. This time on the high seas with Captain Richard Phillips of the the cargo ship Maersk Alabama giving himself to pirates as a hostage in exchange for the lives of his crewmen. What a story.
For five days he was held hostage until Navy Seal sharpshooters took out the pirates and freed Captain Phillips. Tomorrow he is due back in the United States for a reunion with his family. Like the airline crash in the Hudson River in January, this one has a happy ending.
It is a good story for this time of year. Christians have just remembered the death of Jesus for the sins of all. The sacrifice of the Son of God is told in the Gospels. A righteous man who gave His life that all who would believe on Him might have eternal life. It is the central message of this holy season.
I Timothy 3:2 foretold that in the last days “men will be lovers of themselves…”. We don’t have to look far to find many such examples among the famous, the not-so-famous and those who are “famous” in their own mind. A Wall Street financier steals billions of dollars from investors in an elaborate scheme that goes on for years. Political corruption forces governors, congressmen and prime ministers to step down when their sins of greed and selfishness are exposed. You probably could name examples in your community of every day people who get caught up in a moment of temptation and opt to look out only for their own welfare.
That is why stories like Captain Phillips are a welcome respite from the tawdry tales of life. A captain of a ship is charged with the welfare of the men in his or her command. It is a solemn responsibility, not to be taken lightly. When danger threatens a leader is faced with a choice between looking out for his life and that of the people he serves. A true and faithful captain will be willing to sacrifice himself to save those he leads.
Jesus Christ is called “the captain of our salvation” in Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×. I read once that in the military the captain is the rank that still has direct command over all the lower rank of troops. All other officers above the rank of captain command other officers. This explains why Christ is called a captain and not a general. He knows the needs of all and yet leads us forward under His careful and loving command. Through His life in the flesh he learned of suffering and sacrifice and thoroughly understands the human mind and emotions.
Romans 5:6-8 Romans 5:6-8 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
American King James Version×says, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
In a moment of extreme trial off the coast of Somalia Captain Phillips put forth his life to save his crew. In the end a group of brave Navy Seals rescued his life. A happy ending and a good story for this holy season.