The Peace of the Cross
In his commentary on Colossians, R. Kent Hughes recounts a story surrounding the sinking of the Titanic which provides for us a window into a world estranged from God and in need of peace. He writes:
“On April 15, 1912, the White Star Liner Titanic raised her stern high above the frigid waters of the North Atlantic and began a slow, seemingly calibrated descent as her lighted portholes and towering stern slid silently toward the ocean floor. That famous night saw the extremes of human behavior – from abysmal cowardice to the terrible beauties of sacrificial love. But with the Titanic gone and her lifeboats spread upon the icy waters among the crying, drowning swimmers, the story was almost totally devoted to self-serving cowardice, for of the 1,600 people who were not able to get into the lifeboats, only thirteen were picked up by the eighteen half-empty boats that hovered nearby.
“In Boat No. 5, when Third Officer Pitman heard the anguished cries, he turned the boat around and shouted, ‘Now, men, we will pull toward the wreck!’ But the passengers protested, ‘Why should we lose all our lives in a useless attempt to save others from the ship?’ Pitman gave in. And for the next hour No. 5, with forty people on board and a capacity of sixty-five, heaved gently on the calm Atlantic, while the forty listened to the fading cries of swimmers 300 yards away. The story was much the same on the other boats. In No. 2, Fourth Officer Boxhall asked the ladies, ‘Shall we go back?’ They said no, so Boat No. 2, about 60 percent full, likewise drifted while her people callously listened. On Boat No. 6, the situation was reversed as the women begged Quartermaster Hitchens to return, but he refused, painting a vivid picture of the drowning overturning the boat. The women pleaded as the cries grew fewer. Of the eighteen boats, only one boat, No. 14, returned to help – and this was an hour after the Titanic’s sinking, when the thrashing crowd had ‘thinned out.’”
The personal drama of the sinking of the Titanic, notes Kent Hughes, is a parable of a world gone wrong. Fallen humanity is adrift on the unfriendly sea, alienated, unable to help one another despite some covert individual attempts. The wrongness of everything points to the fundamental problem of people’s estrangement from each other and from creation by sin. It is a picture of a world desperately in need of reconciliation and the harmony and rightness which that brings.
Even apart from the terrible story of the Titanic, there is no doubt that the world is in need of reconciliation. There is a reason why the world seems always to be at odds with one another, and worse, at war. It is because humanity is in rebellion against God. In our text this week we will consider the peace that the cross of Jesus Christ provides. As we ‘Survey the Wondrous Cross’ we will turn our attention to Colossians 1:15-23 as we learn that Jesus reconciles us to himself.
What does it mean to be reconciled? How does Jesus provide reconciliation? Once reconciled, then what? I hope you are able to join us this Lord’s Day as we continue our journey to the cross. Have you asked someone to come along with you? It’s not too late to reach out and give that invitation.
It is with joy that Michelle and I remember you always in prayer with thanksgiving for your friendship, partnership and support in planting a work to the glory of God. Without each of us doing our part, we could never move forward. Thank you for your faithfulness. It is our delight to serve alongside you in bringing biblical reform and gospel renewal to our area. Let’s keep praying and working.