March 23, 2008. 2:20am. The fishing boat Alaska Ranger begins flooding with water. Within two hours, all 47 members have been forced to abandon ship. The majority, not able to make it to a lifeboat, find themselves in the freezing 32°F (0°C) waters of the Bering Sea, bobbing up and down in the oceans 20 foot swells.


Dark. Freezing. Drowning.




Or at least it would be, if it were not for the rescue.


2:52am. A Coast Guard station in Kodiak, Alaska receives the distress call—“Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is the Alaska Ranger. 5, 3, 5, 3 North, 1, 6, 9, 5, 8 West… We are flooding.”


Over 800 miles separate the ship from the Coast Guard responders.


A HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter leads the response. On board is rescue swimmer O’Brien Hollow. Arriving at the scene, he is lowered from the helicopter into the icy waters. And begins to lift the wrecked crewmen out.


That night, 42 men were rescued alive. You can read the full account in the book The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History.


Now pick-up your Bible to the opening of the gospel of John, and you’ll be able to read of a much greater rescue.


“In the beginning” John begins, bringing to memory the Bible’s opening line—“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Yet we know how the story develops. The earth experiences its own shipwreck, leaving humanity drowning in a dark, hostile, environment.


Thus John continues,“…was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”


The Alaska Ranger’s crew needed a rescue swimmer. We need One much greater. Yet, pause and study the structure of John 1:1-18 and you’ll notice a striking similarity between the Word and the rescue swimmer.


Follow the movements of the Word. He is…

with God (John 1:1-3)

testified of by John (John 1:6-9)

enters the world (John 1:10-11)

rescues humanity into children of God (John 1:12-13)

enters the world (John 1:14)

testified of by John (John 1:15)

with God (John 1:18)

In parallel motions, from God’s presence to the world and back to God’s presence.


The rescue swimmer jumped down from the helicopter into the dark waters, grabbed drowning men, and pulled them out of the water up to safety.


In a much greater sense, so did the Word. He jumped down from the presence of God into this dark world, grabs dying men and women, and pulls them out to life.


But there is something more the Word does.


When the rescue swimmer saves a fisherman from the ocean, he’s still a fisherman. Albeit, a very grateful fisherman, but still a fisherman.


Yet notice what the Word, the Son of God, does. In rescuing the children of man, He makes them children of God. He imparts His identity unto them.


Glance back up to the outline and you’ll see this is at the center. It’s the heart of John's message.


Yes, there’s a rescue plan to pull us out from this dark world. But it’s about more than changing our location. It’s about changing us. Our core identity.


“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”


You. Me. Children of God.


If indeed this is the heart of John’s message, I’m thrilled for this new season Cross Connection to discover how it beats throughout the whole gospel.

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