A Valentine's Day Message
On January 26th, 2005 a California train derailed, killing 11 people and injuring over 200. One of those 200 was a 44 year old man named John Phipps. His story is the basis for this message. Phipps was the man who, though pinned in the wreckage of the train, scrawled a message in his own blood to his wife and kids. As he regained consciousness, he examined his head and body and saw he was bleeding profusely. An upended train seat sat right above him, and thinking he might be dying, wrote this message: "I (heart symbol) my kids. I (heart symbol) Leslie." Later he said, "It wasn't a conscious thought. I've always told my wife and kids I loved them, and it just happened. I didn't plan it. I didn't say I have to leave a last word. I just wrote it without thinking."
His rescuers came on the scene minutes later and saw the message. Fire Captain Robert Rosario said, "I've seen some gruesome things on this job, but that moved me. My only thought was, I have to get that seat to his wife and kids." His wife said about the message, "Hallmark is never going to top that. It's moving, it's thoughtful and it's chilling all at the same time."
The story of John Phipps and his message written in his own blood is a moving one, especially at this time in which we celebrate human love, Valentine's Day. There is another moving love story written in blood, one I want us to consider now. That love is the love of Jesus Christ for a lost world.
John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Wrapped up in that little word "gave" is a powerful truth. It means "to furnish, to give forth from one's self," and is the aorist tense, meaning it has no starting point or ending point. The love of God the Father was a giving love, a furnishing love. But the gift that the Father gave was not a neatly packaged, wrapped with wrapping paper, tied with a bow, gift. The gift of Jesus Christ to a sinful world was a bloody gift, a shocking gift, a sacrificial gift. Let us examine this gift of love, written in blood.
CHRIST'S BLOOD PICTURES GOD'S LOVE
Christ's death shows us love's duty. Jesus said in John 12:27, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour." Christ did not shrink from His appointment with the cross, rather He invited it. A writer once said, When duty calls, that is when character counts. So many have failed in their hour of greatest testing, but not Christ. General Douglas McArthur said to the cadets at West Point about the soldiers which had given their lives on the battlefield, "I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always for them: duty, honor, country. Always their blood, and sweat, and tears, as they saw the way and the light."
shows us love's determination. The book of Hebrews gives us
insight into Christ's thinking as He prepared for the cross. "...who
for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
(Heb. 12:2) The word "endured" means to "abide patiently." The phrase
"set before him" is one word in the Greek and means "to be placed in the
line of sight." Jesus saw the 'joy,' the "occasion of gladness" yet
future and it helped Him press on with determination. In another
passage, Jesus makes it clear that His purpose is to die for sinners:
Christ's death shows us love's depths. How far will a person go for love? I know personally of a man whose wife left him and their children and moved in with another man. The husband took the role of both mother and father, did the housework, paid all the bills, and waited for his wayward wife to return. After living with the man for over a year, she decided she wanted to go back home. He had been praying for her, and he gladly welcomed her back. Many of his friends and acquaintances told him he was "crazy" for taking her back. "Jesus doesn't quit me no matter how I treat Him. I can at least try to treat my wife the same way," he said. Hosea was an Old Testament prophet who modeled the love of God for His people. His wife "played the whore" time and time again. His children were fathered by other men, yet still he stayed with her. Ephesians 3:17-19 says "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
CHRIST'S BLOOD PROVES GOD'S LOVE
There was a legal requirement. In the days of Moses, God instituted the system of sacrifice for His people Israel. There were ordinances and commands to sacrifice lambs, bulls, goats, rams, turtledoves, etc. Hebrews 9:22 has this in mind when it says, "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." Old fashioned Christianity is out of vogue today. Fewer people want to worship a God Who demands a blood sacrifice. It is an offense to them; they call it a "slaughterhouse religion." In the Garden of Eden, after the humans' sin, and animal was killed and skinned to provide a covering for Adam and Eve. Who do you think provided the coats of skins? It was God Himself!
There was a
lengthy wait. God allowed the sacrifice of animals all through
the Old Testament period as a picture of the sacrifice to come.
Read in Hebrews 10:
There was a
payment. When Christ came, the old system was fulfilled. Again
in Hebrews 10:
CHRIST'S BLOOD PROMISES GOD'S LOVE.
Christ's sacrifice brings a deeper relationship. The First Epistle of John tells us, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God..." (I John 3:1-2a) "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us..." (Eph 2:4)
Christ's sacrifice brings a fuller friendship. In the Old Testament, very few could be called God's friends. But in the New Testament, Christ opened the door to a fuller friendship. John 15:13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."
Christ's sacrifice brings a profitable partnership. In life, many partnerships end badly. But there is one partnership that will never disappoint. When we accept Christ, we become one with Him, in HIm. 1 John 4:16: And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Col 2:9-10 says, "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." John 15:5: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." 2Tim. 2:12 "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him..." Rev. 20:6: "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." I have heard some say, "I'm gonna ask God to let me be the mayor of my hometown" but the emphasis should not be on the what but on the who. It's not what we'll be doing; it's who we'll be doing it with.
John Phipps' life has changed forever. He is a production worker
in an aerospace plant in Burbank, CA. Before the train wreck, he
was a total unknown to the rest of the world. Now he will forever
be known as "the man who wrote his love in his blood." His one deed,
done in a moment of time, defines him in the minds of most people.
His family will never forget the message he sent to them that winter morning.
Dear friend, there is One who has written a message to you in His own blood.
If you will accept Him as your own, you will never be the same again.
You too, will be defined by that one act, Jesus' love written in the blood
of the cross.
Romans 3:10-11, 23 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God....For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 10:9-10, 13 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
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