Matt. 18: 11-14
“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. 12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
We must first realize we need rescuing!
(Like AA can’t fix it until you recognize it)
Introduction: The famous “Johnstown Flood” of May 31, 1889 was likely the single most newsworthy item in American history between the assassination of Lincoln and World War I. At 3:10 p.m. on May 31, 1889, following a full-day of unprecedented heavy rains, a 450-acre man-made lake, detained by a fifty-year-old earthen dam and owned by the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club (the exclusive reserve of a select group of Pittsburgh’s crustiest upper-crust), ruptured its barrier and its liberated waters raced down the South Fork Creek, into the Little Conemaugh River, on its way to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, some 15 miles downstream. It took about 40 minutes for the lake to empty completely, but it did so with the force of the Niagara River at its famous falls. The estimated 20 million tons of water roared through the narrow confines of the mountain valleys at speeds sometimes in excess of 40 miles an hour and with a roiling wall of water and debris at times more than 70 feet high. The water scoured the valleys and hillsides to the bare bedrock, uprooting massive trees, shattering and pushing along all man-made structures: houses, stores, railroad beds and equipment, telegraph and telephone poles, stone and wooden bridges, plus uncountable tons of soil, loose rocks and huge boulders, and livestock and people and whatever else was in the path of its irresistible plunge downward as it descended some 500 feet in the 15-mile race to Johnstown. Before the flood, Johnstown was scarcely known outside of Western Pennsylvania. Some 50 miles east of Pittsburgh at the junction of the Stony Creek and Little Conemaugh rivers in a wide mountain valley, it had grown in its century of existence to about 10,000 souls (the nearby valley communities pushed the area’s population to about 23,000 or perhaps a bit more). The biggest employer, and indeed the town’s economic anchor, was a large steel mill which had been the largest in the entire country in terms of production in the 1870s and early 1880s. The lower parts of town had been subject to flooding by the converging rivers with some frequency in the past, but the water at its deepest rarely rose to more than six feet. The houses in the “better” and higher parts of town never had flooded, beyond having occasional standing water in the streets. At 4:07 p.m., the juggernaut of water and wreckage crashed into Johnstown (already experiencing serious flooding in the lower parts of town due the heavy rains), and swept unstoppably over the whole town and over its several sister towns. Whole houses and businesses, and whole blocks of houses and businesses were torn loose and shattered by the impact. The wave collided with the hillside at the far side of town and returned as a massive wave of backwash surging through the ruins in the opposite direction; leveling most of what little had survived the first impact. From start to finish, the devastation took a mere ten minutes. After dumping some of its load of mud and rock and wreckage on Johnstown and collecting a new load from the town itself, the water resumed its downhill course, slamming with incredible impact into a stone railroad bridge close to the ironworks. Huge quantities of debris were jammed next to and into the bridge, mounding as much as 80 feet high and all but entirely blocking the escape path of the flood waters (and incidentally trapping in the tangled mess some 80 living human beings). This left the town underwater until the flood eroded a new path around one end of the bridge, and began once again sweeping onward, this time with the floating ruins of Johnstown, including people clinging to rooftops and planks and whatever else they could hold on to, who were hoping against hope to find rescue somehow further downstream. In the rushing waters were the corpses of hundreds of Johnstown’s citizens. Towns and villages all the way to Pittsburgh recovered bodies, and in many fewer cases, rescued victims. The immediate outpouring of aid was heartening. At a public meeting in Pittsburgh the day after the flood, $48,000 in relief funds were collected in 50 minutes. Ultimately, over $3,000,000 were collected across the country and even in foreign countries. Material aid in the form of food, clothes, medicine, tents, tools, building materials came in by the hundreds of train carloads. Thousands of workers came to help clean up the disaster. Clara Baron and her Red Cross organization stayed for five months. The official death toll ultimately was fixed at 2,209. One third of the corpses were never identified and hundreds of missing were never recovered. Human remains from the flood were found as late as 1906. Ninety-nine whole families perished; 396 children age 10 or less died; 98 children lost both parents; 124 women were left widows; 198 men were made widowers. It took five years to rebuild the town. In the three hours before the dam gave way, three urgent warnings were telegraphed from the town near the lake down river to Johnstown and points in between, and indeed all the way to Pittsburgh. And all three warnings were callously disregarded by those who were responsible to inform others. Had the warnings been taken seriously and the word spread abroad--and had the hearers heeded the warning--, the loss of life would have been a mere fraction of its actual toll, though the material loss would have been virtually the same. This calamity drew vast armies of news reporters and photographers. Newspapers across the nation issued special edition after special edition as the news came in in bits and pieces. Magazine articles by the score were written and sermons by the thousands were preached. There’s nothing like a good disaster to spark human interest. As Gibbon remarked, “History is indeed little more than a record of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.” At least those are the things that get the most attention. And this was a combination of crime, folly and misfortune in vast dimensions. “When they say peace and safety, sudden destruction comes upon them.” Though there was some small concern that day about flooding in the lower parts of town due to the heavy rains, yet nearly the whole of Johnstown was content to watch the rains, go about their business, do their shopping, converse with their neighbors as on any other ordinary day. “Until the flood came and took them all away,” to cite another text from Scripture. Being unaware of imminent danger does not negate the reality of that danger, nor slow its approach.
David G. McCullough’s The Johnstown Flood (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968; 302 pp.)
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?”
The panic and dread of a missing child and The urgency of God @ our lost ness.
“And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.”
· HUGE release of anxiety
· Prodigal Son is illustrative of this
· Jesus taught & strengthened the disciples
BUT rest of time spent w/ outcasts that EVERYONE else looked down on!!!
“Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
Predestination, Election… à Cannot mean God selected certain people to damnation!!!
Freedom of choice vs. irresistible grace:
It was Oklahoma in the 20’s. John Griffith in his early twenties, newly married and full of optimism. He had also been blessed with a beautiful baby. But then in 1929 came the great stock market crash. With the economy shattered, John’s dreams were devastated. Oklahoma was ravaged by depression and despair. And so with his wife and little son, he headed East, making their way to the edge of the Mississippi River, and there he found a job tending one of the great railroad bridges that spanned the massive river. Day after day, John would sit in a control room and direct the great gears of an immense bridge over the river. He would look out as barges and ships glided under his elevated bridge. Then, he would lower the massive structure mechanically, to let the trains cross. In 1937 he looked forward to taking his son (now 8) to work. Together they set off for the bridge. His son watched in amazement as he pressed down the lever that raised and lowered the huge bridge. He was so proud of his father controlling such a stupendous structure. Then suddenly, the shrieking whistle of a distant train startled him. Looking in disbelief, he saw that the Memphis Express was just minutes away! He suppressed his panic, checked that the river was clear of ships and then looked to make sure nothing was below. As he looked down, he saw something horrifying. For below him in the massive gearbox that housed the colossal gears that moved the gigantic bridge, was his son, who had fallen and even now was wedged between the teeth of two main cogs in the gearbox. Although still conscious, he could see that his son’s leg had begun to bleed profusely. Immediately an even more horrifying thought flashed through his mind. For in that instant, he knew that lowering the bridge meant killing the apple of his eye, crushing him to death. Desperately he tried to think of a solution. A plan emerged. He could climb down a rope from the catwalk and grab his son and then rush back and pull the control lever just in time for the oncoming train. But as soon as he had these thoughts, he realized the futility of his plan. There was not enough time. What could he do? In anguish he considered the oncoming train with its 400 passengers rushing closer towards the bridge and certain death if he did nothing. But this was his son, his only son, his pride and joy. He imagined the tearstained face of the boy’s mother. But if he saved him, he would be letting many others die. With only seconds to spare…
ASK: (While symbolically reaching for a lever) What would you do?
**MOVIE CLIP – Most
It is said, as the train went by John could see the faces of the passengers, A businessman was reading the newspaper. The conductor was looking at his watch. Ladies were sipping their afternoon tea in the dining cars. Others played cards. A small boy was eating ice-cream. Many passengers were either engaged in idle conversation or careless laughter. all of them oblivious to the sacrifice that had just been made for them so that they could be saved. In anguish he pounded the glass in the control room and cried out:
“What’s the matter with you people? Don’t you care? Don’t you
know I’ve sacrificed my son for you? What’s wrong with you?”
No one answered, no one heard. Not one seemed to care. This is a faint illustration of what God the Father did in sacrificing His Son, Jesus, for us, so that we would not die but have forgiveness and eternal life: "God so loved the world that He gave His only… Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
God gave His ONLY son (type)… Importance of sons to ancients… Abraham & Isaac (anti-type)…
Abraham was willing to give up the long awaited for son… This was the very son AND ONLY son who could preserve the tribe of Abraham’s people.
Is rescuing your friends & family to Christ URGENT?
Ezek. 33: 1-4, 6-7 - “The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head… 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’ 7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.”
Following John 3:16:
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17)