Throughout human history, agnosticism, atheism, and all other forms of irreligion have always been in the overwhelming minority. Around the world, the human race has acknowledged its obligation to God through some form of sacrifice. The various forms of sacrifice around the world have been very diverse, including self-effort, vegetation, animal, human, and other sacrifices. Irreligion in the forms of atheism, agnosticism, etc. have refused to acknowledge what people groups around the world have universally recognized and have tried to satisfy through their efforts of sacrifice—that is, that humans are away from God, but may be brought into a right relationship with God through sacrifice. Only in more recent times has the sense of need for sacrifice been diminished as humanity has gained greater confidence in its own efforts to save itself. The universal testimony of the overwhelming majority of the world’s population is that there is a chasm between God and the people of the world.
A Chasm Too Wide
During the Roaring Twenties, John Griffith—himself only in his early twenties—lived in Oklahoma. The home of John and his wife was blessed with the presence of a beautiful blue-eyed baby boy, and together they gazed into the future with high hopes and great anticipation.
John loved the thought of traveling to far away places—places whose names he could hardly pronounce. However, his hopes for a life of travel and adventure with his family met reality in the stock market crash of 1929. Like the American economy, his dreams were also shattered, and the arid winds that swept through the languishing Dust Bowl farms of Oklahoma also sweep away John’s dreams for his family.
Hoping to salvage what they could of their lives, John and his wife packed their Model-A Ford with their little son, Greg, and headed east. In search of new dreams, or the resuscitation of old ones, they settled along the Mississippi River where John found work as the operator of a drawbridge that spanned the Mississippi. Day after day, John watched as ships glided beneath his bridge, destined for places about which he had only read and dreamed.
Slowly, hope was revived in the Griffith home. Little Greg was now eight years old, and was the pride of his mother and father. One day, John took Greg with him to his work at the bridge, and together they watched as the enormous gears of the bridge raised and lowered the bridge, allowing ships to pass beneath it. At lunchtime, John raised the bridge to allow some scheduled ships to pass, then took young Greg by the hand, and they felt their way along a catwalk that led to an observation deck on the bridge. There, father and son basked in the beauty of the day and in the glory of each other’s company.
But, the tranquility of those moments were shattered by the wail of a fast-approaching passenger train—the Memphis Express. Realizing the drawbridge was still elevated, John told little Greg to stay put on the observation deck. Frantically, John inched his way over the catwalk to the control booth, but before engaging the control lever—as he had been trained to do—he looked under the bridge to make sure there were no ships below it. Then as his eyes continued to inspect the bridge—to his horror—he notice one of Greg’s little legs protruding from the massive gears of the bridge. Against his father’s instructions, Greg had tried to follow John back over the catwalk and had fallen. Now, on those massive gears, he was bleeding and unconscious. In anguish, John frantically rehearsed the various means by which he might pluck his son from certain death, but he knew that at any moment, the Memphis Express would dart from the tree line and hurdle itself toward the bridge. If the spans of the drawbridge were not lowered in time, hundreds of people on the train faced certain death. There was but one answer to the anguish of the situation. John buried his head in his arm on the panel of the control booth and pulled the lever, lowering the spans of the bridge. Greg’s little limbs quivered for a moment, and then fell lifeless. With only seconds to spare, the spans of the bridge came to their places of rest, and the Memphis Express began to clatter across.
With tears streaming down his cheeks and a heart convulsing with emotion, John raised his head from the control panel to gaze at the passing train. Peering into the passenger cars that raced by him, he saw businessmen, a conductor, and other passengers who knew nothing of his enormous sacrifice. In anguished, he beat on the window of the booth, saying, “You do not know what I’ve done for you!”
Many, day after day, race past the spot in human history when God the Son stepped out of eternity into time and gave himself to bridge the gap between a holy God and sinful man.
Why Good Friday?
While an individual may easily swim the Mississippi River, it is not possible for a passenger train to cross the same river without a bridge. Many believe that the chasm between themselves and God may be easily bridged with their sacrifices and self-effort, but their attempts—in the opinion of God—are similar to a train attempting to cross the Mississippi River without a bridge. Attempting to swim the Atlantic may be a more accurate comparison of human attempts to bridge the chasm that exists between a holy God and sinful man.
The Bible teaches that between every individual and God there is a chasm that may only be spanned by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. No act could more accurately reveal the values of God and His holiness than to punish sin with death. But, no act could more accurately reveal the love of God than to provide the bridge back to God and back to spiritual life—provided by the sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ.
On Good Friday, God provided the perfect sacrifice that spans the chasm of death, back to His life.
Because all have sinned, all have been separated from God; but through repentance of our sin and faith in Christ as the only true sacrifice for sin, believers experience spiritual life—also known as the “new birth.” Christ is the only sacrifice for sin God will accept, because He alone fully meets all God’s requirements for holiness—only He is capable of spanning the chasm of sin and death with his life.
Without the first Easter morning and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there would have been no evidence that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was victorious over death. Good Friday reminds the world that sin separates from God, and separation from God results in death. Easter morning, however, reminds the world that a perfect Sacrifice has been offered, and because it has been accepted by God the Father, Christ bridges the chasm back to the Father, the Source of eternal life.
Easter is the evidence and symbol of the spiritual life God imparts to those who have been dead in sin but who have been made alive in Christ through a living faith.
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 The Holy Bible: New International Version (East Brunswick, NJ: International Bible Society, 1984).
 The Holy Bible: New International Version.