There was once a bridge which spanned a large river. During most of the day the bridge sat with its length running up and down the river parallel with the banks, allowing ships to pass thru freely on both sides of the bridge. But at certain times each day, a train would come along and the bridge would be turned sideways across the river, allowing the train to cross.
A switchman sat in a small shack on one side of the river where he operated the controls to turn the bridge and lock it into place for the trains to cross. One evening the switchman was waiting for the last train of the day to come, when thru the dimming twilight he caught sight of the train lights.
He stepped to the controls and when the train was within a prescribed distance, he turned the bridge into position. Although to his astonishment, he found the locking control was not working. If the bridge was not locked in position it would wobble back and forth at the ends and cause the train to jump the track and go crashing into the river. And this would be a passenger train with many people aboard.
He left the bridge turned across the river, and hurried across the bridge to the other side of the river where there was a control lever which he could operate manually to lock the bridge in place. He would have to hold the lever back firmly as the train crossed.
He could hear the rumble of the train, and he took hold of the lever and leaned backward to apply his weight to it, locking the bridge. He kept applying the pressure to keep the mechanism locked. Many lives depended on this man’s strength. Then, from the direction of his control shack across the bridge, he heard a sound that made his blood run cold. “Daddy, where are you?” His four-year-old son was crossing the bridge to look for him.
His first impulse was to cry out to the child, ” Run! Run!” But the train was too close; the tiny legs would never make it across the bridge in time. In the same instant, he almost left the lever to run and snatch up his son and carry him to safety. But he realized that he could not get back to the lever in time for the train to pass safely. Either the people on the train or his little son would have to die. It took a moment to make his decision.
The train sped safely and swiftly on its way. No one on board was even aware of the tiny broken body thrown mercilessly into the river by the onrushing train. Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of the sobbing man, still clinging tightly to the locking lever long after the train had passed. Neither did they see him walking home more slowly than he had ever walked before, to tell his wife how they had lost their son.
As we comprehend what this experience must have meant to this man and how it affected him, we begin to realize what our Father in Heaven must have had to endure when He sacrificed His Son (the most innocent man ever) – to bridge the gap between us and eternal life. Can there be any wonder that He caused the earth to tremble and the skies to darken when His Son was crucified? And how it must affect Him when we speed along thru life with little thought or appreciation for their sacrifice.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16