There once was a big turntable 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 through freely on both sides of the bridge. But at certain times each day, a train would come alone, and the bridge would be turned sideways across the river allowing the train to cross. The bridge was just wide enough for a train to cross it.
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 as the train passed. One evening as the switchman was waiting for the last train of the day to come, he looked off into the distance through the dimming twilight, and caught sight of the train’s light. He stepped to the controls and waited until the train was within a prescribed distance when he was to turn the bridge. He turned the bridge into position for the train to cross, and moved the lever to lock the bridge into position, but to his horror, he found the locking control didn’t work. If the bridge was not locked securely into position it would wobble back and forth at the ends when the train came onto it, causing the train to jump the track and go crashing into the river. 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 lever which he could use to operate the lock manually. He would have to hold the lever back firmly as the train passed. He could hear the rumble of the train now, 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, coming across the bridge from the direction of his control shack, 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. The man almost left the lever to run and snatch up his son and carry him to safety, but he realized he could not get back to the lever. Either the people on the train or his little son must die.
He took just a moment to make his decision. The train sped swiftly and safely on its way, and no one aboard was even a ware of the tiny, broken body thrown mercilessly into the river by the onrushing train. Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of a sobbing man, still clinging tightly to the locked lever long after the train had passed. They didn’t see his walking home more slowly than he has ever walked – to tell his wife how he had sacrificed their son.
Now if you can comprehend the emotions which went through this man’s heart, you can begin to understand the feelings of our Heavenly Father when he sacrificed His son to bridge the gap between us and eternal life. Can there by any wonder that He caused the earth to tremble and the skies to darken when His Son died? And how does He feel when we speed along through life without giving a thought to what was done for us through Jesus?