A painful sacrifice

It was in the 1920s and his name was John Griffith. He was newly married, full of optimism and had been blessed with a baby named Greg. And then came the devastation of the American economy. John and his family moved east and he found a job tending the great railroad bridges that spanned the massive Mississippi River. Day after day John would sit in the control room and direct the enormous gears of an immense bridge over the river.

In 1937 John took Greg, now aged eight, with him to work. Greg looked on wide-eyed as his dad pressed the huge lever that raised and lowered the bridge. Toward lunch, taking his son by the hand they inched their way down a narrow catwalk and onto an observation deck that projected some 50 feet over the majestic river. They sat and watched the ships passing by. As they ate their lunch John regaled his son with vivid tales of the river.

Suddenly, he was startled back to reality by the shrieking whistle of an approaching train. John realised that the bridge was still raised and that the Memphis train was coming through ahead of schedule. Instructing his son to stay put he jumped to his feet and ran back to the control house. His eyes searched the river to make sure no ship was passing and as his eyes moved downward he saw something so horrifying that his heart froze in his chest. Greg had tried to follow him and had fallen off the catwalk and was wedged between the teeth of two main cogs in the gearbox. In that instant he realised that lowering the bridge meant killing the apple of his eye.

Panicked, his mind probed for a solution. Instantly he knew that there would not be enough time. Greg’s mother! He could see her tear-stained face now. This was their child. He knew in a moment that there was only one thing he could do. And so, burying his face, he plunged the leaver down. The cries of his son were quickly drowned by the relentless sound of the moving bridge. With only seconds to spare, the Memphis Express, with its 400 hundred passengers, roared out of the trees and across the mighty bridge. John lifted his tearstained face and saw many of the passengers engaged in either idle conversation or careless laughter. But no one looked his way.

No one even cast a glance at the giant gearbox that housed the mangled remains of his hopes and dreams. In anguish he pounded the glass of the control room and cried out, “What’s the matter with you people? Don’t you care? Don’t you know I’ve sacrificed my son for you? What’s wrong with you?” No one answered; no one heard.

Even now as I retell this story my face is wet with tears. For this story is but a faint glimpse of what Father God did for us in sacrificing His Son, Jesus, to atone for the sins of the world. (John 3:16) But God determined to sacrifice his Son so that we might live. (1 Peter: 19,20) and He willingly sacrificed His life for the sins of humankind. (John 10:18)

“In light of the most precious gift of salvation, it is almost conceivable that anyone – particularly someone within the Christian church – would tamper with the atonement, the central truth of the Christian faith.” (From “Christianity in Crisis”)

Post published in: Faith

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