As I reflect on this situation, I find the following parallels to life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
1. We are all on an uncertain journey each day.
As these passengers boarded this flight from New York to North Carolina, they had no idea what was about to occur. They expected a smooth and uneventful flight to their destination, where they would go about the other activities planned for that day. Obviously their day did not go as originally planned.
Many times our days, not to mention our lives, do not go as planned. We have to expect the unexpected. God’s Word encourages us to not be presumptuous about tomorrow: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (Jas. 4:13-14).
2. We never know when the end will come.
This could have been the last day on earth for every one of those passengers. Like them, we never know when our last day will come. We must be ready at all times to die. We should live each day as if it were our last. God wants us to be ready at all times to meet our Maker.
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Mt. 24:44).
3. Sin is serious; it will cause a crash landing.
The engine difficulties on this plane made it impossible to fly. Therefore, a crash landing was imminent.
Sin will cause crash landings in our lives, be it the sin of sexual immorality, greed, or gossip. More serious still is the separation from God that sin causes. This separation from God will last for all eternity if it is not forgiven and removed. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
4. We need the help of Another to be rescued.
Those on this plane could do nothing to save themselves. The plane was going down, and it was going down fast. When they realized this, they had to place themselves at the mercy of the pilot and flight attendants.
When we realize the seriousness of our sin, we must place ourselves at the mercy of Jesus Christ, the only One who can rescue us by His death and resurrection.
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Gal. 1:3-5).
5. Jesus is able to bring us to a safe landing.
Thankfully, the expert pilot of this plane was able to land the plane safely in the river, and all the passengers were saved. To a greater degree, Jesus Christ is able to save us from sin. His shed blood can save us from the penalty and the power of sin. It is only through Jesus that we can be reconciled to God and given eternal life. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (Jn. 3:16-17).
6. We must receive the help offered to us.
Even after the plane was safely landed into the river, those aboard still had to receive the help offered to them. Here they were in the river, but they were not yet fully “saved.” In order to get to land, they had to receive the help offered to them. They had to get up, get off the plane, and receive the gift of the boat ride to land. If they stayed on that sinking plane, they would die.
In the same way, Jesus has done everything necessary for us to be saved from our sins, but we still have to receive the gift before it is fully ours. We do this by repenting of our sins and receiving Jesus into our life as our Forgiver and Leader. At this moment we become a follower of Jesus and begin a relationship with God that will last forever.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it’” (Mt. 16:24-25).
7. Give praise to the One who rescues you.
Much praise has gone out to the pilot of this plane, and he deserves all that is given to him. More so does Jesus deserve our praise and eternal adoration for what He has done for us. As followers of Jesus, we are to live a life of praise and gratitude.
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever” (Rev. 5:13).
What an amazing event that took place this week on that US Airways jet. But what a more amazing truth that we can be eternally saved from our sins through Jesus Christ! Have you received the free gift of eternal life in Christ? Are you prepared to face Him today, should this be the day your plane goes down?