The tragedy of the Titanic lives on despite the passage of time. The mystique that has built up around this one ship is amazing. Perhaps it is because it was such a large, luxurious vessel, ahead of any other ship of the time and the fact that she sank on her maiden voyage. The Titanic certainly was impressive. Constructed for the White Star Line in Belfast’s Harland and Wolfe shipyard she was the pride of the fleet. Her size, design and fitting exceeded anything that had ever been produced before. Built in the days of limited motor travel and when air passenger travel was only emerging as a possibility rather than just a dream, she was hailed on both sides of the Atlantic as awesome and spectacular. The name given to this gigantic vessel describes great size and power. It was even suggested that she was unsinkable. Here are some of the interesting statistics that make her memory live on even 100 years later. The Titanic was one of the largest movable objects ever built at that time, measuring 883 feet long (1/6 of a mile), 92 feet wide, 104 feet high from keel to bridge. Her tonnage was 46,328. She boasted electric elevators, a swimming pool, a squash court, Turkish baths, and a gymnasium. Her two 38 ton propellers along with a central steam turbine propeller carried her along at 24 knots. Four massive funnels were fed by 29 coal fired boilers. The ship cost almost £3 million to build in 1912. A first class parlour suite ticket cost £2,745 which is approximately £57,000 at today’s value. The great ship sailed out from Southampton on April 10th 1912 with much pomp and ceremony on the docks and great excitement on deck among the 2,228 passengers and crew. There was a great cross section of society on board. There were the very rich and famous who indulged in all the pleasures the ship offered. There were many poorer folks in steerage who were simply crossing the Atlantic to what seemed like the land of promise. No one anticipated the tragedy that would shortly unfold.
When the Titanic disaster finally reached its peak on April 14th, every passenger on board, wealthy and poor alike, was forced to fight for survival. At 11.40 pm the ship struck a huge iceberg which tore a 300ft gash in her side. Just under three hours later the majestic liner slipped down to a watery grave. Only 705 people survived that fateful voyage. 1,523 lost their lives beneath the ice cold waters of the Atlantic. The liner was equipped with only 20 lifeboats, so that precious deck space for the first class passengers would not be taken up! There are many stories of fear and despair, and others of great courage. One notable story is recorded of a man called John Harper, a preacher and widower who was travelling to USA with his six year old daughter for a Gospel mission. When the lifeboats were lowered he put his daughter into one and awaited his fate. Eventually, as he was swept about in the cold Atlantic waters he came in contact with a man who was clinging for dear life to a piece of wreckage. He called out… “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.” Several times the two men drifted back together until John Harper slipped under the waters. Four years later, at a survivors’ meeting, this man stood up and in tears recounted how John Harper had led him to Christ. Harper had then tried to swim back to help other people but because of the intense cold, had grown too weak to swim. His last words before going under were, “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Hollywood has no memory of this man but heaven has recorded his courage and faithful witness. John Harper gave his life so that others could be saved.
Passengers on the Titanic discovered some things very quickly. They found out there was no certainty of a safe harbour on that voyage despite the best technology that men could assemble. They realised it didn’t matter what background a person came from. Everyone faced the same danger. They also discovered the lifeboat arrangements were totally inadequate to meet the need. Unless there was a large vessel capable of taking survivors on board which could reach them quickly, all hope was lost. Hope soon turned to despair.
I suppose the story will continue to intrigue multitudes for years to come and I know that ship builders have learned valuable lessons that will mean many mistakes will not be repeated. However we too should be interested in learning lessons from the tragedy. We are all on a journey across the ocean of life. Some have it relatively easy and enjoy the trappings of privilege and wealth. Others have a fairly miserable existence. Some have health while others suffer. Some become famous while others remain unknown. Some are religious but many are godless. God says there is no difference. He says that everyone has not only fallen short of His holy standard but has miserably missed the mark altogether. (Read Romans chapter 3).
Anything we place our confidence in outside of Christ can only go down. You may shelter in your virtual Titanic of good works and church going but none of these can save. There were not enough lifeboats or everyone on that great liner and most of the passengers were destined to perish. We are happy to tell you today that Christ is the mighty Saviour Who is able to save everyone who trusts Him. There was no ship that came near in time on that night in 1912. The Saviour has come at the right moment, to the very point of our need. He came to search and rescue those who are lost. (Read Luke chapter 19 v 10).
He is able and willing to save all who trust Him. He shed His blood and died on the cross at Calvary in the place of perishing sinners who have no hope in themselves. His sacrifice and precious blood have such infinite value before God that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. (Read John chapter 3 v 16). Not one person needs to perish! We would all be advised to make sure we have prepared for the journey of life so that we reach the other side in safety. If the tragedy of the Titanic teaches us anything it is this…”Boast not thyself of tomorrow” (Proverbs 27 v 1)….. Be prepared (Read Matthew chapter 24 v 36-44). Be in a hurry because there is a time frame within which any successful search and rescue mission can be carried out. “Behold now is the accepted time. Behold now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians chapter 6 v 2). The Bible states clearly…. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts chapter 16 v 31). The Titanic utterly failed those who had put their faith in her. The Saviour can never fail those who trust Him. May God help you to be like the man who heeded John Harper’s advice. The alternative is to perish forever. You must make the choice!