During the Roaring Twenties, John Griffith and his family lived in Oklahoma. When only in their early twenties, John and his wife were blessed with the presence of a beautiful blue-eyed baby boy, and together, the young family gazed into the future with high hopes and great anticipation.
John loved the thought of traveling with his family to far away places—places whose names he could hardly pronounce. But, his dreams of a life of travel and adventure met with disappointing reality when the stock market crashed in 1929. Like the American economy of the 1930s, his dreams were also shattered, and the arid winds that swept through the languishing Dust Bowl farms of Oklahoma also swept 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 young 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—now eight years old—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 massive 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 together they carefully stepped their way along a catwalk that led to an observation deck on the bridge. There, father and son enjoyed lunch, basked in the beauty of the day, and cherished each other’s company.
But, the tranquility of those treasured moments was 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 retraced his steps 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 ensure no ships were passing 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 and return to the control booth just in time, 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. What would he tell his wife? How could he go on in life if he made the decision he knew he must make? There was but one answer to the inexpressible horror of that moment… 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 the Mississippi.
Convulsing with emotion, tears streamed down John’s cheeks. Heaving from uncontrollable sobs, John raised his head from the control panel to gaze at the passing train. Peering into the passenger cars that raced past him, he saw businessmen, a conductor, and other passengers who knew nothing of his enormous sacrifice, but John had spared their lives at the sacrifice of his own son. In anguish, he frantically beat on the window of the booth, crying at the top of his voice, “You do not know what I’ve done for you!…You do not know what I’ve done for you!”
Like the occupants of that train, 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.
While an individual may 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!
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—and this historical fact separates Christianity from Islam, Buddhism, and all other world religions! 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.
Justice David Josiah Brewer After presenting more than eighty pieces of evidence of America's Christian origin, Supreme Court Justice, David Brewer—writing the majority decision for a unanimous court—arrived at this same conclusion in 1892: ". . . many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation." In his classic work, The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Benjamin F. Morris discusses the numRead more...
Many argue that "religion and politics do not mix". But, the truth of the matter is just the opposite. Irreligion and wrong religion have never mixed well with politics, and every Christian should be prepared to respond to such outlandish statements. There is a group of individuals in America who have political aspirations, but they do not want Christians to have a role in the shaping of the political climate of the nation. These irreligionists may rightly be called "politatheists" for in matters of politics for these individuals there isRead more...
The original name of the Apostle Peter was Simeon or Simon. He received the name Cephas (Aramaic Kepa—"Rock") from Jesus; the Greek translation of Kepa was Petros, hence the translation Peter. His father's name was John (John 1:42), or Jonah (Matthew 16:17), and though he was born in Bethsaida, he lived at Capernaum following his marriage. With his younger brother Andrew, Peter carried on the trade of fisherman. He was a follower of the ministry of John the Baptist, and through Andrew was introduced to Jesus (John 1:41, 42). His home was a Read more...
The Apostle Paul was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, born at Tarsus in Cilicia. He was initially a great enemy to, and persecutor of the early Christians; but after his miraculous conversion, he became a strenuous supporter of Christianity. At Iconium, Paul and Barnabas were near being stoned to death by the enraged Jews; taking the opportunity they fled to Lyconia. At Lystra, Paul was stoned, dragged out of the city, and left for dead. He, however, revived, and escaped to Derbe. At Philippi, Paul and Silas were imprisoned and whipped, and bRead more...
Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles of Christ (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13) is generally believed to have been the same individual who is called Nathanael in John’s Gospel. The justification for this opinion is that in the first three gospels Philip and Bartholomew are constantly named together, but Nathanael is nowhere mentioned. In the fourth gospel Philip and Nathanael are mentioned in combination, but nothing is said of Bartholomew. Of the gospel writers, John uses Nathanael to describe this apostle while the other Read more...
Matthew was a common Jewish name after the Jewish exile. In the lists of the apostles, Matthew, who was also known as Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke v. 27), is coupled with Thomas (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15). Matthew’s father’s name was Alphaeus (Mark 2:14), who should not be confused with the father of James the son of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, who was a “sister” of the mother of Jesus (John 19:25). Matthew was born at Nazareth in Galilee but resided primarily in Capernaum due to his occupation.Remembering the Apostle Matthew His Apostolic Call HisRead more...
 The Holy Bible: New International Version (East Brunswick, NJ: International Bible Society, 1984).
 The Holy Bible: New International Version.