Summary: This message shares how we are called and challenged to become the "bridge" to lead others over the great chasm of sin to the Christ. Yet there are certain responsibilities and challenges along the way.
In out text this morning, from John’s Gospel account, we can see for ourselves three distinctive bridges to the Christ.
According to Dictionary.com the meaning of the word bridge is: “a structure spanning and providing passage over a river, chasm, road, or the like.” If we go to Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus [Luke 16:19-31], we can begin to understand that a bridge is necessary to span and provide safe passage over the great gulf between Abraham’s bosom (heaven) and Hades. After both the rich man and Lazarus, a beggar, die each are sent to their eternal abode: The beggar to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man to Hades, a place of torment. The rich man first of all requests that Lazarus dip his finger in water and refresh his parched tongue, to bring a moment of relief. Abraham tells him that this is impossible because there is a great chasm that is fixed between his bosom and Hades; that there is no such bridge available.
So the rich man’s next request is that Abraham sends the beggar as a messenger to his household (his father’s house) to warn his five brothers of their impending doom. Abraham tells him that this is not possible either, but that his brothers already have the message at their fingertips via the use of the Law and the prophets. Therefore it is the role of the priests or the teachers of the Law (rabbis) to instruct them properly in the teachings of redemption. In other words, there has to be someone to go to these five and tells them of the truth, God’s Word.
Someone has to become a “bridge” over the great chasm that is there between a person’s demise due to one’s sinful nature and an individual’s capability to enter an eternal rest, a result of righteous living. This “bridge” has to be able to withstand the forces of tension and stress placed that is naturally placed upon any such structure. If not, the “bridge” will buckle and eventually collapse beneath the heavy load that is placed upon it from the immensity of the benefactor’s sin.
In our account from John’s Gospel we can clearly perceive the three bridges that ultimately spanned this same gap between living with or without the Christ. We have in this narrative John the Baptist, Andrew and Philip. All three of these mean of faith introduced someone to the Christ. And because of these introductions each recipient began a personal relationship with One who would become their teacher, their friend, and ultimately their Savior.
We live in a world today that necessitates the building of “bridges” to replicate just what we have gleaned from this morning’s Scripture text. Our society is being driven by the many winds of false doctrine imparted by deceptive teachers that are leading those who will listen down the destructive road of perdition. By grasping the philosophies of these devious instructors of falsehood, many are heading into the depths of hell, the place of eternal punishment.
Therefore, there must be those who will take the upper track of sharing the Good News into our communities and ultimately into the world. “Bridges” need to be built that will endure the test of time and the winds of destruction that can handle all the torsion that will come as a result of truth-telling. The world about these structures traversing this deep, dark abyss will in due course beat down of them with such worldly pressures that each one will feel the strain and weight of the world on their shoulders. All bridges undergo such difficulties.
In my years of college my minor was in structural engineering. I learned of all the enemies of bridge building. There is tension, compression, torsion, and shear.
Torsion is similar to the rope used in a game of tug-of-war: It undergoes a stretching effect that weakens the rope through external stress place upon it by the two opposing teams. Compression is when one pushes down on a spring to collapse it. By squishing it, you shorten its length. Therefore, it is the opposite of tensional stress.
Compression and tension are present in all bridges, and as illustrated, they are both capable of damaging part of the bridge as varying load weights and other forces act on the structure. It