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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

October 30, 2015

The good shepherd

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

In January 1982 a Boeing 737 crashed into the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. just 73 seconds after takeoff. The plane broke through the thick ice on the river, leaving just the tail of the plane out of the water. Only 6 of the 79 people on board the plane survived the crash.

The firemen who quickly arrived on the scene were unable to reach the survivors from the bank of the river. The survivors were clinging to the plane's wreckage in ice cold water. An emergency helicopter was dispatched to pull them out of the water. The crew was surprised when it tossed the line to the first passenger and he handed it to another passenger instead of allowing himself to be lifted to safety. The same thing happened after the helicopter had delivered the first passenger to safety – the man again handed the line to the next passenger. After five passengers had been saved, the chopper returned to the wreckage to retrieve the gallant man who had saved others. But he was gone, having succumbed to hypothermia in the freezing water.

"I have never seen such a willingness to sacrifice," one of the two helicopter pilots said. "I confess that I had tears in my eyes, and I think that man deserved those tears. He was a noble person and a true hero," were the pilot's comments in news reports at the time.

People were greatly moved by one man's willingness to sacrifice himself to save five other people. His willingness went beyond the apostle Paul's rhetorical statement because he surely did not know whether the people he saved were righteous people: "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die" (Romans 5:7).

But how much are people moved by the fact that one man was willing to die for everyone – for all sinners? "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (verse ‌8).

Jesus came as a bond servant to sacrifice Himself for others. He offers all who accept Him as Savior a symbolic rope of salvation via His sacrifice for the atonement of our sins, enabling us to have a relationship with our heavenly Father. And God's plan ensures that all people will have that lifeline thrown to them at the time of His choosing, allowing them to decide whether they will grab on for dear life.

Jesus is "the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Let's be thankful that God has called us to be part of His flock.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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