Monday, April 13, 2009

Pirates, a Noble Captain, and an Even Greater Savior

In the news over the weekend, a seemingly outdated group of people, pirates, were brought back into the public eye. I thought pirates had been relegated to movies, cartoons, and Halloween costumes. But apparently I was wrong.

Captain Richard Phillips' boat was overtaken by Somalian pirates late last week. There was an extended confrontation, and Phillips essentially exchanged himself for the safety of his crew. He was willing to be taken hostage by the pirates--uncertain of what they would do to him--to ensure that his fellow crew members would be unharmed. A long standoff ended yesterday when a team of Navy Seals killed the pirates who were holding him hostage and rescued Captain Phillips from near certain death.

There are a few heroes in this real-life story. The Navy Seal snipers who took out the pirates come to mind. And perhaps most notably, Captain Phillips. His willingness to surrender himself and potentially his life in order to rescue his shipmates is something that is noble. I think that few would stand up for their peers the way that he did. His example is one that we should praise in conversation with our children. He was selfless. He kept the interest of others above his own. He was willing to suffer so that others could be set free. He was brave, even heroic.

But talking about this news story is just one more opportunity we have to have conversation with our family about about the gospel--more specifically, about how unique Jesus's sacrifice is in the history of the world. You see, even though Captain Phillips acted nobly and heroically, his sacrifice was nothing in comparison to Christ's. Richard Phillips is a human being just like all of us. He is a sinner who deserves to die (Romans 6:23)--just like you. Just like me. Would we say that he deserves to die in a violent way at the hands of pirates? Of course not. But viewed biblically, he deserves a lot worse. He deserves the wrath of God for his sin. So do you. So do I. Jesus, on the other hand, deserved only good things, only blessing, only honor and love from the Father. He was completely innocent of all wrong doing. He had nothing coming to Him. This makes His sacrifice infinitely more meaningful.

And when Jesus gave himself up for others on the cross, it was not just a surrendering of Himself to Roman soldiers who mistreated Him and killed Him. It was far more than any physical suffering we can imagine (whether at the hands of pirates, murderers, soldiers, etc.) He was not being punished by fellow man alone, but rather by God the Father. For the sins of other people. So that we could be forgiven. So while what Captain Phillips could have potentially suffered would have been horrible, what Jesus suffered is unmatched. The perfect innocent man--God's very Son--suffering under the wrath of God. There is no sacrifice that has ever, or will ever, compare to it--not Captain Phillips, not anyone!

Thank God for a Savior like Him! "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:6-8

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