First responders and rescuers often have harrowing stories to tell. Their mission is to intervene, despite the tremendous risks they often face, to save someone from perishing. The more the person risks to save a life, the bigger the story. When royalty, risks their inheritance and a future throne to save the life of an unknown person – that’s big news. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, was involved in several high-risk rescue missions.
A brutal storm in the Irish Sea (north of Wales) was raging with gale-force strength. Eight Russian men were in peril. Their cargo ship, the Swanland, had been struck by a gigantic wave that smashed its hull and flipped it on its side. Catastrophic failure! A ‘mayday’ call was sent out. Some of the crew had been swept off the deck into the raging sea. The ship went down. The weather was severe, and the visibility was extremely poor. But men were perishing at sea.
At 2AM, that dark and stormy night, a young man climbed into the co-pilot seat of a British RAF Sea King helicopter, along with three other crew members. All four crew members were incredibly brave. But for Flight Lt. William Wales, there was a lot-on-the-line that dark night as he climbed on board the chopper. Newly married, vast wealth and privilege, and heir to the throne of England – 29-year-old Prince William expressed no reluctance. He was called into active duty on a dark, cold, dangerous night to rescue eight men from a foreign country who were perishing in a storm.
At 3:40AM, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William’s Sea King helicopter spotted, through the dense darkness, the forlorn raft being thrashed around by powerful waves. Savin (26) and Karpenko (48), two Russian sailors were clinging to a battered raft. The Prince and his chopper hovered above, buffeted by the violent winds. The winchman descended to the raft and grabbed the two survivors one at a time. Another body was later recovered but five other men perished at sea.
Shaking and in shock, Savin and Karpenko said: “These are the men who saved our lives. On one hand, we hoped there would be salvation but on the other hand it was getting scary. We thought we would drift away and probably hit the rocks and there would be no chance of survival.”.
The Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom personally thanked Prince William for joining the rescue mission. He praised him for his selfless efforts under bad weather conditions and extended his deepest gratitude for saving the lives of the Russian citizens.
Long before Prince William, there was another Prince who sacrificed all to save perishing people. The Prince of Peace. The gravity of the situation was far more serious. The cost of the rescue mission, even to this day, cannot be quantified in any meaningful way.
For to us a child is born [in Bethlehem] to us a son is given [John 3:16] and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
A world of people, hostile to the Royal Throne of the Universe, was perishing. People, in their sins and without a rescuer, would perish eternally in a ‘place of eternal torment.’ Despite their rebellion and hostility against Heaven’s Sovereign and Royal Throne, the saving mission of the ages was undertaken. The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, lowered Himself to Planet Earth and was born in a stable in Bethlehem (Palestine today).
This Prince from Heaven spent 33 years in the harsh disaster-zone of earth. He didn’t fly-over or touch-down for a photo-op. He was shielded from nothing. He didn’t operate within a protective bubble with bodyguards surrounding Him. He saw it all when He was here. The worst effects of sin – He saw. He enjoyed no earthly perks, normally associated with royalty. No motorcades or posh hotels. More than once, this Prince wept over the tragic scenes He witnessed. He endured hunger and thirst, as well as fatigue. (Watch Gospel of John Video) He worked hard from sunrise to sunset. So often He never even got to sleep in a comfortable bed with soft pillows. Often outside, under the starry skies, He Himself had created, He would spend His nights praying. His heart was heavy. The desperate plight of the human-race weighed heavily upon His royal heart.
Who could ever question His love for perishing sinners? Never once, did He express reluctance about going all the way to a cross to bear the punishment for the sins of a guilty world. He endured bullying and brutal physical assaults. The worst of allegations was levelled at Him – blasphemy. Along the way, despite the intense opposition, He reached out to those in trouble, to richly bless them. By His incredible acts, He proved He was, in fact, the Lord from Heaven.
Ultimately, His 33 years on Planet Earth culminated in Him being spiked to a cross. The very people He came to bless, did it. The Bible records not an ounce of resentment in His heart towards those who condemned Him to death. His beautiful heart still beat with love toward those who swung their hammers. He talked to Heaven and said: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
No ‘rescuer’ ever endured what Jesus went through to rescue perishing sinners. It’s amazing that a Prince from one of the royal families on earth would endure a stormy night to rescue men at sea. But who could ever wrap their head around the incredible condescension and amazing grace of the Lord from Heaven stooping so far down to rescue those who were enemies against Him?
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 NASB
Have you been spiritually rescued from your sins? Would you like to be saved? The Bible records a story of a distraught prison administrator who wanted to be spiritually rescued. He asked imprisoned preachers this question:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So, they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…” Acts 16:30-31
The two Russian men perishing in the cold waters of the Irish Sea, did not swim away from the lifeline lowered to them. They welcomed and embraced the rescue provided.
If you have never had your sins forgiven, your situation is far more serious than theirs. They were in danger of physical death. You are in danger of spiritual death and darkness forever. The Prince of Peace endured the darkest night and the fiercest of storms on the Cross – for our sins. He did this, so you could have peace – so you could have eternal salvation – so you would never need to perish.
The moment you cease resisting Him, He will powerfully and joyfully save you. Saved to live a life of peace and fulfillment for God’s glory and saved to spend eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ in His Eternal Kingdom!
Can you find the time to read the account of the sufferings and death of this ‘Saviour-Prince’ in the Gospel of John, chapters 18,19,20? Can you find it in your heart to bow your heart and whisper up to Him: “Thank-you!”