Greater Love hath no man

He sat down opposite me for lunch in a city restaurant. He had a Merchant Navy badge on his jacket and spoke with the soft voice of the sea. “Any chance of a drink here?” “I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place.” “Pity,” he said, “for it’s a hot day and I’m thirsty.”

We talked on till after lunch. He was a Merchant Navy captain, typically reserved as to his wartime achievements. We discussed present-day measures for safety at sea and so on. “Talking about safety at sea,” he said, “the only charity I subscribe to is the National Lifeboat Institution. Brave fellows these! You know, I docked at Milford Haven a little time back. A storm was running high and there was no use putting to sea till it calmed down. I was standing shelter­ing near the bridge. The gale was the worst I ever saw or heard. No exag­geration – it was blowing the women and the children right off their feet as they tried to cross the road. And at that moment the Mumbles lifeboat, with its eight noble crew on board, was being turned round again to put out to sea for the second time, never to return.”

We sat in silence for several moments in tribute to the memory of those brave men. Two of them were over seventy, two were in their sixties, the youngest was forty.

The oil tanker Samtampa was broken in two. From 15 miles away on the west side of Swansea Bay the Mumbles lifeboat tried to reach the wreck, but had to give up and return. Later she went out again and did not return. In the early morning the life­boat was found over-turned beside the Samtampa.

“Aye.” The captain contin­ued, “That’s the sort of thing that touches a sailor. And on payday each of my men on the ship came up to me in turn and gave a generous donation to the Mumbles Disaster Fund. Aye, it touched them all right – you see, it could easily have been for them that the lifeboat went out.”

It was a good example of that Bible verse – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). I quoted the Scripture to the captain. “Aye,” he said , “that just fits it. They couldn’t have shown greater”.

“You know, captain.” I said “there’s another verse which goes even further. It says God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). I spoke of this One who died for His enemies. The inescapable call to love and duty which urged forward those brave Mumbles fellows was but a faint picture of our Saviour who went to the cross. When Jesus spoke about Himself as the Good Shepherd He said “I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:11).

The Mumbles men went out into the night to try to save a helpless crew drifting hopelessly out into eter­nity. None of them ever came back. But this glorious Saviour went out alone to lay down His life. The Bible explains that in His death God dealt with Him as the great Sin-bearer.

But He came back gloriously victorious. Today, He is alive in Heaven with God and is positively saving men from sin and eternal pun­ishment. He saved me. If you are willing He can save you. He has been doing His saving work for centuries. He saves and no one else can.

Therefore God says, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

So many people are trying to be saved by their own efforts. Per­sonal achievements do not cancel out sin in our lives and the alarming, stark reality is that human souls are perish­ing daily around us, perishing in hopeless sin or, as the Bible says, “without God and without hope in the world.” In spite of the fact that God’s beloved Son still stands daily by the roadside of life and says, “Come unto Me… and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28), calling on men to lay aside all unavailing personal effort and trust Him alone for salvation and peace.

With God to meet some day and eternity to face, sooner perhaps than you think, how is it with you, reader? This might well be a vital moment for you to decide. The fol­lowing verses have helped me. Why not you?

“For 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). “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24).

“To Him (JESUS) all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” (Acts 10:43).