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There is an old sermon illustration that I have heard many times but recently I learned that the illustration has a basis in fact. A man by the name of John Griffith, lived in Oklahoma in 1929 and lost all he had in the stock market. He moved to Mississippi where he took a job as bridge tender for a R/R trestle. In 1937 he was involved in a horrible accident. One day his 8 year-old son, Greg, spent the day with his Dad at work. He poked around the bridgetender office and asked a myriad of questions. Then a ship came through and John opened up the draw bridge. After a moment or two he realized his son wasn’t in the office and as he looked around, to his horror, he saw him climbing around on the gears of the draw bridge. He hurried outside to rescue his son but just then he heard what he knew was a fast approaching passenger train, the Memphis Express, filled with 400 people. He yelled to his son, but the noise of the now clearing ship and the oncoming train made it impossible for the boy to hear him. And all of a sudden John Griffith realized his horrible dilemma. If he took the time to rescue his son the train would crash killing all aboard, but if he closed the bridge, he would sacrifice his son. He made the horrible decision, pulled the lever and closed the bridge. It is said that as the train went by he could see the faces of the passengers, some reading, some even waving, oblivious to the sacrifice that had just been made on their behalf.

Now, there are some things about that story that remind us of God. He could not spare us as sinners and spare Jesus, the sacrifice for that sin. God too had to allow the jaws of death to close in on His son. And thousands go by oblivious and indifferent, even though they know of that sacrifice. But the reason I tell that story is not to re-tell an old, emotional tale, but to tell you that there is one thing wrong with that story as it compares with Christmas. God was not like John Griffith. Unlike the Memphis Express that caught John Griffith by surprise, the sending of Jesus was not a panic move, it wasn’t a spontaneous decision. It was planned. Jesus’ death was not the result of jealous Jews or hard hearted Romans. It was the result of a Loving God, who in His wisdom, said there was no other way.

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