The news said there were 33 Chilean miners in that mine a half mile underground. Some of the miners said there were 34. God was there.
Even seasoned reporters knew it. It was virtually impossible to report on the amazing condition of the miners and the saving of every life without using the word "miracle."
I had just gotten back to my room after speaking at my cousin's funeral. I turned on the TV in time to see rescuer Manuel Gonzalez enter that tubelike cage to go down for the first rescue. With Cousin Bob's funeral service still very much in my heart, I watched that emotional moment when the capsule touched down in what could have been the miners' tomb. I was speechless.
As the rescuer emerged, I saw something others may not have seen. In my heart, I saw Jesus. Coming "down the shaft" from His heaven to rescue me from a pit where I would have died without Him. And I remembered the testimony they had played only an hour before at my cousin's funeral.
The pastor said, "We know Bob is in heaven tonight. How do we know that? Let's hear it from Bob himself." And suddenly there was my cousin's voice, recorded last August during a church testimony time. "I was rotten to the core - but Jesus died to save me. I'll never forget that night years ago when I trusted Him to be my personal Savior." For my cousin...for me...for countless millions trapped in sin's deep spiritual hole, that rescuer coming from above was Jesus Himself.
Because the Rescuer came from heaven...because Bob had totally trusted Him to save him, we had more than a steel casket and a hole in the ground. We had hope. We knew Bob was a rescued man. Rescued from the deadly penalty of his sin. And I knew that because of Jesus the Rescuer ("Jesus" literally means "God rescues!"), I would see Bob again in heaven. Along with my dad, my mom and other dear ones we've buried. Each of them had trusted Jesus as their Rescuer from their sin.
King David described his rescue this way: "The Lord...lifted me out of the slimy pit...He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand" (Psalm 40:2). That's what happens when Jesus arrives in our lives - through our total trust in Him. The common misconception is that we can somehow dig ourselves out by being good or religious. No more than 33 trapped miners could have dug their way out of their underground tomb! "He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy" (Titus 3:5).
The rescue of those miners wasn't cheap - it reportedly cost some 15 million dollars. My rescue from the death penalty for my sin cost me nothing, but it cost Jesus everything. Just like rescue worker Manuel Gonzalez, Jesus had to trade places with the one He was saving. He stayed in sin's dark hole and gave His life there, absorbing the full weight of my sin and my hell. He "loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood" (Revelation 1:5).
One reporter said as the rescue capsule touched down in the miner's darkness, "What a relief to see the rescuer coming where they are." I know the feeling. That kind of relief, the joy of one saved from an unthinkable fate, awaits every one of us who welcomes Jesus as our Rescuer from above. Because He's come to where you are. To do what only He can do.