The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. It was completed in 1883, and with a main span of 1,595 feet (486.3 m) it was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge at a cost of $15.5 million. Twenty-seven people died during its thirteen year construction.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, 4,200 feet (1,280.2 m) and holding the record of the longest span until 1964, is heralded as one of the top ten construction achievements of the twentieth century. It opened in 1937 at a cost of $35 million. By 1971, when the last of the construction bonds were retired, the principle as well as nearly $39 million in interest had been raised entirely from bridge tolls. The cost to construct a new Golden Gate Bridge in 2003 was estimated to be approximately $1.2 billion. One can only imagine the cost ten years later!
However, there is another bridge that is far more valuable than anything man could even hope to construct. It spans between heaven and earth, bridging the gap that has been caused by man’s sin.
The Bible says that God is love (I John 4:8). John, called the beloved disciple, wrote more about love than any of the other disciples or Bible writers. The amazing aspect of God’s love is that it does not give up. An illustration of that love is seen when God saw Adam and Eve rebel against Him by disrespecting His command to not eat of the forbidden fruit. It would have been an easy thing for God to just say, Goodbye, let Me start over! I will start again and create another couple and see if they can obey instructions. Had He done that it would not have reflected His true character. He had another plan; He was not willing to give up that easily; He would reach them in their fallen condition and demonstrate to them His love.
I remember hearing the story of a little girl who had brain cancer. After a long and painful fight, her mother was told by the doctors that there was nothing more they could do. Because of the love she had for her child, she refused to give up and determined to find another doctor to help. If that doctor had the same opinion, she would continue to search for another. Love and her unwillingness to give up spurred her on while ever there was even a slim hope that her precious child could be saved. That is the way it is with God. He could have wiped out this race and started all over, but He did not, in the hope that some could be saved. What did it cost? His only begotten Son, Jesus, the darling of heaven was sent to this earth to bridge the gap.
Jacob saw this bridge in a dream. He had tricked his brother Esau into selling him the birthright of the firstborn and had obtained the blessing, deceiving his father by covering his arms with goat’s skins and providing his father’s favorite food and pretending to be Esau.
When Esau found out he had been tricked he was so angry that he threatened to kill Jacob. Rachel, who was outside Esau’s tent and heard his threat decided to protect her favorite son from his brother’s wrath. She told Jacob that he must pack a few belongings and leave immediately. Exhausted from his flight and afraid of his brother’s retaliation, Jacob became discouraged. His mind was filled with guilt because of what he had done to both his brother and his father, and wondering how God could even accept him, he made himself a bed on the ground and taking a stone for his pillow he fell asleep.
While he slept, “He dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” Genesis 28:12. John tells us more about the ladder that linked heaven with earth on which the angels ascended and descended. “And He [Jesus] saith unto him, Verily, verily I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” John 1:51. The use of the word hereafter indicates that at one time heaven must have been closed to the earth.
Jesus is the ladder on which Jacob saw angels ascending and descending. We can call this ladder a bridge because that is the purpose of a ladder, to make it possible to reach places that are otherwise inaccessible.
Christ is the ladder that reaches heaven. He bridged the gap between heaven and earth, making heaven accessible to man. As Jesus came up out of the water after His baptism, the Bible says that heaven was opened and a voice was heard saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17. A link had been made between heaven and earth. Because of God’s gift in the life of His Son, the gap between heaven and earth was closed. It is now possible to get to the other side, which, without the bridge, would be impossible. Christ will take us places that are not possible to go by ourselves. Love does not give up but finds a way!
The most important consideration we should have in life is how to get from earth to heaven. “Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man can cometh unto the Father, except through Me.” John 14:6. Jesus is the only way. Only by obeying the truth, as taught by Him, is it possible to cross over and enter the new life. Let us analyze the construction of that bridge.
Pier #1: Jesus came to this world
It was not after Adam and Eve sinned that God instituted the plan of salvation. This plan had been formulated before the foundations of this earth were laid and was ready to come into operation in case any man should sin. This plan was not an afterthought; it was something that God thought through eons ago.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. … And the Word [Christ] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1–3, 14. “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” Verse 10. That is amazing!
Jesus, the Creator, comes to His own people and nobody knows Him. The fact that the One Who has power to speak things into existence actually became a human being in order to save us is beyond computation. What did that cost? “It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin.” The Desire of Ages, 48.
David says, “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that Thou visitest him?” Psalm 8:3, 4. When you look at the scheme of our entire universe, our whole solar system is but an atom, and we are nothing but a drop in a bucket by comparison, but Jesus saw fit to come to this planet and save a rebellious people. It is incomprehensible!
Though the time and place of His birth had been predicted, there was no place and no one ready to receive Him. The innkeeper missed the opportunity to host the Saviour of mankind and turning away Joseph and Mary caused their precious Baby to be born in a stable amongst the animals.
God’s Son has been given to the human race (Isaiah 9:6), and He will remain our brother throughout all eternity. Jesus retains human nature forever. He returned to heaven in a glorified, human body.
Pier #2: He lived a sinless life
For a bridge to reach from earth to heaven it required One who lived without sinning—Christ. He came to this world, born of a woman, and lived a sinless life. This is so important for us today because the entire human race was under the control of Satan until love wrestled this world out of Satan’s hands. Satan is not giving up easily but Jesus has reclaimed His rightful possession; He created it, and will save all those who desire to be saved.
When Jesus asked, “Which of you convinceth Me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me?” John 8:46. There was not one person who spoke up. Jesus came and lived a sinless life so that you and I, in His power, can live sinless lives. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil in us so that we don’t sin. “Whoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” I John 3:9. Christ lived in unity with His Father, Who gave Him the power to resist the devil. That same experience is available to all who believe in Him.
The mother of Genghis Khan, clan chief of the Mongolian Empire that exceeded even that of the Roman Empire, understood the strength of unity. When he was a little boy, his father was poisoned. According to Mongol culture, when the father died, the rest of the family was forsaken by the community. Kahn’s mother gathered her children together and taught the great Kahn how they could remain intact. She told him to take an arrow and break it, which he did with ease. She then handed him a bunch of arrows, which he was not able to break. That same illustration teaches us about the unity Christ had with His Father that kept Him from every temptation, enabling Him to live a sinless life.
If a microscope was put on Jesus’ life, it would not reveal one wrong thing. Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” And it says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15, 16. Christ relied fully upon His Father. He said, “I can of Mine own self do nothing.” John 5:30. Jesus said the same thing about us, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. But Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13.
Jesus relied upon power from His Father, and the key for our success is to rely upon Christ for our power. A battle raged against the entire demonic force as this bridge was being built. It was so fierce that while bowed upon the earth praying for hours in the midst of His struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ prayed, “Let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” Matthew 26:39. The Bible says He sweat great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). There are known cases in history of this condition called hematohidrosis. The struggle was so fierce that He “resisted unto blood.” Hebrews 12:4. Whatever your struggle, look to Christ. He understands and can give you deliverance. Nothing is impossible with God; Jesus has already won the victory for us. Jesus came to this planet and lived a sinless life so you and I could. Without an example for a world of sinful, human beings, we wouldn’t be able to do it, but Jesus did it for us and led the way.
Pier #3: He died
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” All have sinned and are under the penalty of death. Have you ever thought of yourself as being on death row? Isaiah saw a vision of God in heaven (Isaiah 6), and while in this vision he fell down and said, “I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Verse 5. He was heartbroken when he saw the purity and righteousness of God in contrast with his own character. We are all guilty and on death row, and without someone to intercede in our behalf, we are in trouble. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
When Jesus died on the cross of Golgotha, it appeared to the ignorant that He had lost the battle, but how wrong they were. Isaiah 53 clearly describes the chronological events of Christ’s life. He came to establish a kingdom of grace that all who believe in Him could be saved.
It is the death of Jesus that draws us to Him. When we spend time at the cross it will be the central theme in our lives. It will no more matter what football team wins or what’s happening with the Grammy awards. The things held with such importance in this world will be foolishness for us. When we look to Jesus and the cross, everything else just pales into insignificance. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” John 3:14.
Pier #4: The Resurrection
A Christian and Muslim were discussing the attributes of their religion. The Islam man, talking about the glories of Islam, said, We still have Mohammed with us today. The Christian said, I have a God who doesn’t live in a tomb, He is in heaven, He is a living God and He conquered death.
The empty tomb sets Jesus apart from every other false god. “Jesus said to her [Martha], I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” John 11:25. This gives each one of us hope. Even Paul said that if we didn’t have any hope that we would rise from the grave we would all be a bunch of miserable people (1 Corinthians 15). Jesus was prepared to carry the weight of sin and die without the assurance that His sacrifice would be enough to bridge the gulf between sinful man and a holy God. It was an act of faith. His sacrifice was accepted and He arose again.
Pier #5: The Ascension
When Jesus died on the cross, the plan of salvation was not yet over though it is a common belief by many theologians that the atonement was finished on the cross. There’s something else that Jesus needed to do. Look at Romans 4:24, 25: “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” He paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, but He was raised again for our justification. Without the resurrection we could never be justified.
To be justified means to be forgiven. Unlike many of us who like to remind people of what they have done, Jesus Christ forgives us for our past sins and treats us as if we had never sinned. He “was raised again for our justification.”
There was a reason that He ascended. Jesus said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” John 16:7. “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” Acts 2:33. Jesus ascended on high, and was accepted by the Father, and He shed forth the power of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost.
Now there are many involved in the plan of salvation to build this bridge. We have Jesus, the Father, angels and now the Holy Spirit. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convince the world that they are sinners and have need of a Saviour. “And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:8. Without the work of the Holy Spirit we would be lost.
Pier #6: Christ’s Intercession
Hebrews 8 tells us that Christ is the minister of the sanctuary in heaven. “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25. No matter how bad we have fallen, we simply need to come to Him, and ask for help.
During the Civil War a man neglected his duty and fell asleep while on guard duty. It was a crime punishable by death. The circumstances were very interesting. The soldier had helped his friend all day in the battlefield, carrying him back wounded. The wounded man had been assigned guard duty that night but he began to come down with a fever. His friend offered to take his place, but being exhausted from the day’s activities he fell asleep while on guard.
The parents of the guilty man received a letter informing them that their son was to be executed on a certain date. The father took the letter and went to Washington, D.C. to the White House and requested to see President Lincoln. Without a pass he was refused an audience. The desperate father pled with the doorman the urgency of his request but to no avail and was pushed away from the door that closed behind him. Totally discouraged, the father went a little way and sat down under a tree where he wept bitterly. Soon a little boy came and tugged on his shirt asking, “Mister, mister, what’s wrong?” Through tears he told the little boy the story about his son who had fallen asleep and was going to be executed. The little boy said, “Well, I’ll go see President Lincoln. I’ll get in there, you watch.”
“I’ve already tried that and they pushed me out,” said the father.
“You come with me,” replied the boy. So they went together, the distraught father trailing the little boy who boldly ascended the steps and opened the White House door without even knocking. The same guard was standing right there objecting to the intrusion. “We need to see the President,” said the little boy.
“Well, I’m sorry son, but this man doesn’t have a pass and we cannot let him in,” was the stern reply.
At that, the little boy started yelling at the top of his lungs, “Pa! Pa!” President Lincoln came out from his office, looked at the little boy, Tadd, his little son, and the father was able to tell his story to President Lincoln. That very day, President Lincoln wrote a letter of pardon.
You see, that is what Jesus does for us. We are all under the death penalty, but Jesus pleads in our behalf. He wants to get us all off death row, but we must be willing to confess and forsake our sins.
Pier #7: A Home Prepared
The bridge is almost complete. Jesus is coming back, and at that time it will be finalized. We will be able to span that bridge with Jesus and go to heaven with Him. John 14:1–3 tells us that He went to prepare a place for us, and He is going to come again and take us with Him wherever He goes.
Hebrews 9:28 tells us, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
During Abraham Lincoln’s presidency a little cartoon was published in the newspaper. It was a picture of the White House on top of a cliff, and at its base was a cabin. A ladder was between the two, indicating that Abraham Lincoln had gone from poverty to the White House. The caption read, “The ladder is still there.”
There is still a ladder for us to climb today. But we have to be willing to get on it and accept the pardon that is offered.
During Andrew Jackson’s administration a political enemy of his was tried and sentenced to death. President Jackson heard about this man, whom he knew well, and wrote him a letter of pardon to stay his execution.
The man was given the letter and after he read it, he said, “You can have your piece of paper, I don’t want to be pardoned.” This confused the officials who did not know what to do, so they took it to John Marshall who was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at the time for further instruction. He read the letter over, and after he talked to the prisoner, he said, “We cannot force you or anybody to accept a letter of pardon.” Because the pardon was refused, the prisoner was taken out and shot for his crime.
Friends, don’t refuse the pardon that has been made available. It does not matter how far we have fallen, or what sin we have committed; Jesus has provided a pardon. The Bible says all manner of sin can be forgiven unto man, except the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit, which is the only Source provided to convict us of sin. When we respond to His calling Jesus will give us deliverance. Jesus is coming soon. When He comes it will not be to forgive sin. When He returns it will be as a conqueror, King of Kings and Lord of Lords to deliver His people. Do not neglect this great salvation and let it slip away.
Mike Bauler was ordained into the ministry in 2005 and serves as pastor of the Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon. Prior to locating in Portland, Pastor Bauler served as a Bible worker for Steps to Life Ministries. His goal is to help give the gospel to the greater Portland area with an emphasis in helping his Bible students discover the truths in Bible prophecy, which are so often neglected today. His wife, Amanda, a family nurse practitioner, and their daughters Hannah, Esther and Abigail assist him in his ministry.