What Happened on the Drawbridge?

What Happened on the Drawbridge?


God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever
believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16    (mck)


John Griffith worked as the controller of a railroad drawbridge across the Mississippi River.  One day, in the summer of 1937, John took his eight-year-old son, Greg, along with him to work.   

At noon, John put the bridge up so ships could pass, and then sat on the observation deck with his son to eat lunch.   

was startled by the sound of a train whistle from the east.  He knew it
was the Memphis Express, a 400-passenger train heading over the
Mississippi from East St. Louis 

raced from the observation deck to the control tower.  Just before he
threw the lever to lower the bridge, he glanced down to see if any ships
were passing below, and noticed that his son had slipped from the
observation tower and fallen into the gear mechanism.  His left leg was
caught in the cogs of the two main gears. 

John Griffith froze for a moment in fear.  The Memphis
Express was nearing the  river. If he did not lower the bridge, the
train would have no time to stop.  But if he lowered the bridge, it
would crush his son to death.

knew what he had to do.  He grabbed the master lever . . . and lowered
the bridge.  The train was just starting across the river when the
bridge was completely lowered. 

the train passed his control booth, he saw the faces of the
passengers.  No one looked at him.  No one looked down at his dead son
in the gear assembly. 

In his anguish John shouted, “I sacrificed my son for you!”   


This story, made popular by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, has been retold countless times as a parable of the Good News.   

But how could such a tragedy become a picture of good news?  Well,
it’s about love, really.  God the Father spoke from heaven at Jesus’
baptism, “This is my Son, whom I love! With him I am well pleased.” 
When Jesus stood on a mountain top with three of his disciples, the
Father repeated his words, “This is my Son, whom I love!” 

We cannot comprehend the moment, but we know that the Father willingly took his beloved Son, and put him to death.

To spare the lives of all of us as we were speeding to our deaths. 
God’s Son stood in our place and died, that we, the guilty ones, might

God loved his Son.  No surprise there.  But the beauty of it all, and what makes this message so good, is that God loves us as well.   

And many years ago, he stood with his hand on the switch, and made his choice.  

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