How To Recognize Love

11 Nov

On January 13th, 1982, Air Florida flight 90 took off from Washington National Airport (now Reagan National) bound for Fort Lauderdale. 30 seconds after taking off, the aircraft struck the 14th Street bridge and careened into the Potomac. Of the 79 souls on board, only 5 survived. And of those who died, the one who will long be remembered is 46-year-old bank examiner, Arland D. Williams Jr.

From a Washington Post article dated January 14, 1982 (before Williams’ name was known), “A Hero – Passenger Aids Others, Then Dies.”

He was about 50 years old, one of half a dozen survivors clinging to twisted wreckage bobbing in the icy Potomac when the first helicopter arrived. To the copter’s two-man Park Police crew he seemed the most alert. Life vests were dropped, then a flotation ball. The man passed them to the others. On two occasions, the crew recalled last night, he handed away a lifeline from the hovering machine that could have dragged him to safety. The helicopter crew who rescued five people, the only persons who survived from the jetliner, lifted a woman to the riverbank, then dragged three more persons across the ice to safety. Then the lifeline saved a woman who was trying to swim away from the sinking wreckage and the helicopter pilot, Donald W. Usher, returned to the scene but the man was gone.

When I say that Mr. Williams will be long remembered, I speak the truth: When the bridge that the airplane destroyed was later rebuilt, it was named in his honor. And for good reason, for Mr. Williams’ silent message to his fellow passengers on that day was heard loud and clear: “I’ll stay here in the frigid water…you go to warmth, safety…and life.” In other words, I’ll take your place…

I’ll die for you.

They call this substitution…offering yourself in someone else’s place. And according to Jesus, there is no greater act of love (John 15:13).

And this is exactly what the Apostle Peter is speaking of in the second chapter of his first letter…

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:24-25 (ESV)

He dies…we live. He is wounded…we are healed. Peter’s imagery and thinking here is mightily influenced by an Old Testament prophet who first showed us the substitutionary death of the Messiah:

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned– every one– to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6 (ESV)

The common themes are powerful – Peter and Isaiah both say we were straying sheep…they both say that somehow His wounds healed us…and they both say that He took our place of punishment. He was our substitute.

Growing up, on Sunday afternoons my mom often played an album with a song entitled He Could Have Called 10,000 angels

He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set him free
He could have called ten thousand angels
But he died alone for you and me.

This is love: the Lifeline to safety was dropped, but Jesus passed it on…to you and me.

For Thursday, November 12th: 1 Peter 3


Posted by on November 11, 2015 in Uncategorized


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3 responses to “How To Recognize Love

  1. Aggie Vande Zande

    November 11, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Hallelujah, Oh What A Saviour

    Liked by 1 person

  2. praymillennials

    November 11, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Praying for the millennials.


  3. praymillennials

    November 11, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    The magnitude of God’s love for us and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross must constrain us to reach out to a dark and dying world with the Gospel.



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