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Spiritual lessons from a dramatic rescue

| by Bob Russell

People all over the world were captivated by the plight of a dozen boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in a cave in Thailand for 18 days. I’m a little claustrophobic, and frankly, that would petrify me. 

However, as I followed the news reports of their dramatic rescue recently, I couldn’t help but think about the spiritual parallels to Christianity. Pastors, I think these lessons are worth meditating on and preaching to your congregation. 

Lessons from the cave

  • They were hopelessly trapped. Once the cave was partially flooded, they couldn’t get out. They would have to swim for hundreds of meters under water, and most couldn’t swim. Escaping on their own was impossible. The Bible teaches us that we are hopelessly trapped in sin. We can’t get out on our own. We can’t overcome our own addictions and habits.
  • They were destined to die. If no one came to their rescue, they were doomed; it was just a matter of time. In Ephesians 2:1, Paul reminded the church they were “dead in your transgressions and sins.” They were destined for hell “without hope and without God in the world” (v. 12).
  • Someone with superior resources came to rescue them. Thailand’s Navy SEALs, equipped with oxygen tanks and scuba-diving gear, endangered their own lives to rescue the boys and their coach. Jesus, the Son of God, came from the protected environment of heaven into this hostile world to rescue us and lead us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
  • There was only one way out. The Thai Navy SEALs proved by their very presence there was a way to escape. But that was the only way. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
  • Their rescue required trust. Those young athletes had to put their faith in someone who obviously knew more than they. They had to trust in a person and follow him for as long as three or four hours, through a narrow, treacherous labyrinth of caves. That’s faith. On numerous occasions Jesus said, “Follow me.” In John 11:25, He said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live.”
  • Everyone rejoiced with their rescue. A friend told me he was riveted to the television and wept for joy when all 12 boys were saved. Luke 15:7 says, “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who don’t need to repent.”
  • Once rescued, the boys had to be cared for and nurtured. They were taken immediately to a hospital where they were given food, liquids, and medical attention. A new Christian needs to be nurtured and discipled in order to survive in a hostile world.
  • Their salvation cost the life of one Navy Seal. There was one rescuer who paid the supreme sacrifice. The soccer team’s salvation was not without a high cost. Ours isn’t either: “You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from our forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The only way

The soccer coach was the last one out. After the Thai Navy SEALs risked their lives and each member of his team had escaped safely proving it was possible, can you imagine that coach telling the SEALs, “No thanks. I’m going to look for another way out”?  Of course not! He realized this was his only hope of survival and he jumped at the chance.

Only Jesus proved He was God by performing undeniable miracles. Only Jesus died an atoning death for our sins on the cross. Only Jesus conquered the grave and arose to live forever. Only Jesus can legitimately say, “Because I live, you also will live.” That’s why the Bible asks, “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).

How indeed.

Photo source: istock


Bob Russell

At just twenty-two years of age, Bob became the pastor of Southeast Christian Church. That small congregation of 120 members became one of the largest churches in America, with 18,000 people attending the four worship services every weekend in 2006 when Bob retired. Now through Bob Russell Ministries, Bob continues to preach at churches & conferences throughout the United States, provide guidance for church leadership, mentor other ministers and author Bible study videos for use in small groups.



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This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
Isaiah 48:17 (NLT)
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