Barnoldswick’s Broken Bridge

As I walked along the Leeds-Liverpool canal at New Year, I could not resist clambering up the old railway bridge near Lower Park Marina. This once crossed the canal until the Barnoldswick Branch line was closed in 1966. The railway bridge was demolished, so now there is a steep drop into the canal where the bridge once stood. It caused me some trouble getting up it, having to grip brambles and old roots, and descending was little easier. The view at the top was impressive, and yet it was a little disturbing. That which was once a bridge was now a steep, man-made cliff.

The Old Testament Law, summed up by the Ten Commandments, is a bridge to God. With this in mind, I came across the following story:

Hossein said to his aged grandfather Abbas, "Oh grandfather, why are you reading the Gospel?" Abbas made answer, "I read it, oh! my son, to find the way to heaven." Hossein, who had received some instruction in an English school, smiling, said, "The way is plain enough; worship but the one true God, and keep the commandments." The man, whose hair was silver with age, replied, "Hossein, the commandments of God are as a bridge of ten arches, by means of which the soul might once have passed to heaven. But, alas I the bridge have broken. There is not one among us who has not broken the commands again and again." "My conscience is clear," cried Hossein, proudly, "I have kept all the commandments; at least, almost all," he added, for he felt that he had said too much. "And if one arch of the bridge give way under the traveller, doth he not surely perish in the flood, though the other nine arches be firm and strong?" (Bible Hub).

James 2: For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

Thank God, we have a complete and perfect bridge to God in the person of Christ. Access via this bridge does not depend on our keeping God’s moral law but rather on our Substitute keeping it on our behalf. All other bridges will crumble and disappear, for they cannot bear the weight of a human being.