I just happened to sit down for my 15 minute break at work when I glanced at the TV in the lunchroom and saw – live – the first miner emerge from the capsule known as the Phoenix. Pretty amazing timing… but what’s more amazing, of course, is this whole story.
On August 5th, 2010 , 33 miners were trapped when the rock walls caved in all around them. The first response is grim. The Chilean mining minister publicly stated that there chances of being rescued were slim.
After 17 days , a drill bit reaches through to the trapped miners but the Chilean government still says it could be until Christmas before they are rescued.
We now know that all 33 men have been rescued, carried hundreds feet safely to the top by the Phoenix capsule – 68 days after the cave in.
Last Sunday , my Pastor mentioned the news piece he had seen the night before about the miners and the rescue attempt – how the life saving drill had finally reached the miners. With tears in his eyes and voice , he thought of the pain and misery the miners must have experienced. The dark , stinking hole they were trapped in – and then… to see the light break through as the drill cracks the ceiling of their prison.
He said then, that he could not help but think of God , who, in flesh , came down to this earth… this dark , dank place, and broke through with heaven’s light and a rescue plan of His own.
God had come down in the form of a man, Jesus Christ. After 33 years of living, He died as a substitute for us – and He made a way back to where He had come from, - not for Himself…but for us. You could say that a “capsule” to heaven - more importantly to the heart of God - now awaited mankind. A rescue from a dark prison , whatever our own personal prison of sin may look like.
Now thinking of the miners - who of them, being in such a situation for 68 days, would not step into that capsule – that Phoenix? I can only imagine how scary it must have been for the first miner to step in and latch the door – certainly this was a leap of faith in those who engineered the rescue. But who would stay behind? Who would not take this offer of deliverance?
When the first miner reached the surface, he soon embraced the Chilean President, Sebastián Piñera , who said to him – “Welcome to life.”
And that’s what it is for him and the other miners – new life. One of the miners, Mario Sepúlveda, said of being down there “I was with God and I was with the Devil – and God won…”
So many , when speaking of this miraculous rescue, keep using the term “born again” . Maybe that term sounds familiar… it comes from a key passage of the Bible where Jesus is speaking to a man looking for a rescue.
"In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. " "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'" John 3:3-7
And then Jesus explains to him how to be spiritually born again. In the renowned passage of Scripture, John 3:16, we hear His words…
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Jesus then goes on to declare…
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3: 17:21
I don’t think any one of those miners hated the light they saw in the last 48 hours.
But what about us?