Friday, April 18, 2003
It was a cold and snowy January afternoon in Washington, D.C. The passengers aboard Air Florida Flight 90 were anxious to get out of the city and to their warm Florida destination. They never made it. The jetliner couldn't clear the 14th Street Bridge, crashed into it, and then into the icy waters of the Potomac where it went straight to the bottom. Only five passengers and one flight attendant made their way out of the submerged wreckage and made it to the surface. They clung to a small section of the tail that remained afloat. The first responders were aboard a National Park service helicopter, lowering a ring-shaped lifeline to the people who were clinging desperately to that piece of wreckage. One of the survivors was described as a 50-ish man to whom they lowered that lifeline. Each time, he passed it off to someone else - until finally he was the last one left to be rescued. But when the chopper returned for him, he was gone. He was the one who didn't make it.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Expensive Love."
He sacrificed himself to save others. He gave up his life so others could live. I owe my life to a man like that. His name is Jesus. Given the choice of letting you and me die for the sinning we have done, He passed the lifeline to us and died in our place. That's a love you do not want to miss because you never really took the lifeline.
In 1 John 2:2, our word for today from the Word of God, He makes clear exactly what was going on when the Son of God was dying on that old rugged cross. "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins" - in other words, the One who did the dying that we should have done. You and I did the sinning. Jesus did the dying. He didn't die because Roman soldiers nailed Him to a cross. He died because He loves you so much that He let them nail Him to that cross. If He didn't take your hell, you would have to.
So when Jesus hung on that cross that Good Friday and said, "Father, forgive them" - He was forgiving you. When He cried out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" the answer is, "Because of you and me." The things you and I have done wrong may not seem bad to us, but they are so serious that God the Father had to turn His back on His own Son because His Son was carrying that sin. In the hellish darkness of Good Friday, God the Father turned His back on God the Son so He would never have to turn His back on you. Jesus looked at you and said to God, "No, Father, don't punish him! Don't punish her! Take Me instead!"
Is it any wonder that a hymn writer says, "Amazing love, how can it be - that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!" The sacrifice has been made. The ultimate tragedy now would be that, after the price Jesus paid for you to be forgiven, you would still miss heaven, and still pay the penalty for your sin because you never grabbed the lifeline. And what better day could there be for you to grab it than this anniversary of the day He died for you.
You grab the lifeline when you tell Jesus that you're sorry for all the sin of your life, that you want to be done with it, that you're putting your total trust in Him and His death for you as your only hope of heaven. If you want to begin with Jesus, then I want to send you my booklet, "Yours For Life" - it will help you make sure you belong to Him.
I can almost imagine Jesus there with you where you are, saying to you, "This is the day I died for you. This is the day to finally take for yourself what I died to give you." Don't wait. Grab the lifeline.