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Titanic, or Lifeboat?

Christian, tell me why do you insist that everyone needs Jesus?
Because…Life without Jesus is like the Titanic: Doomed to sink.

I recently had opportunity to visit the Titanic museum in Pigeon Forge, TN. I have long been interested in the history of the disaster on April 14, 1912. The most advanced “unsinkable” ship of its time sank after colliding with an iceberg just four days into its maiden voyage. Of 2200 people on board, only 700 survived. Over 1500 lost their lives in the 28-degree water of the north Atlantic between midnight and 2:00AM that night.

Some Missed the Lifeboats, Unnecessarily

A significant part of the tragedy is that not everyone took advantage of the opportunity for survival that was available to them. The lifeboats on board the Titanic could have held almost 1200 passengers. But only 700 actually got into those boats. Some thought that the emergency was only a drill. Others did not believe that the ship would sink so completely. It seemed more logical to stay with the big, modern, fancy ship rather than get into a small open boat to be lowered swinging on a rope to the ocean surface in the middle of the night. An additional 500 people would have been saved if only they had trusted in the lifeboats instead of the sinking ship.

Some Miss the Jesus Lifeboat, Also

That led me to make a comparison to how people can look at the Gospel message. Jesus warned that the majority would reject His salvation because of its contrast with “normal” life:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

Jesus didn’t say that the way of life was available only to a few people. Rather, He said that only a few would find it. The way of destruction is impossible to miss. Just stay with the ship, follow the crowd, do what comes naturally, and you can go with the flow … all the way to Hell 1. Even to see the need for an off-ramp requires looking beyond the obvious.

The visible, physical, everyday world around us seems so big and solid. Even though it was all created by God, and is saturated by His presence and upheld by His power, we still have to make a conscious effort to stay aware of Him. It is far too easy to think that the Titanic of here-and-now is all that exists. That causes people to reject the lifeboat of Jesus‘ offer of eternal life: They don’t see the need for it because that great big ship is unsinkable…or so they think.

Signals to Head for the Lifeboat

What clues did the passengers of the Titanic miss that might have led them to choose the nonintuitive route to safety? What clues do people of today miss that would lead them to safety in Jesus?

Progress is stopped.

The Titanic had been steaming along at full speed, hoping to make good time to its destination. Suddenly, there was no forward motion and the engines were quiet. The silence was deafening.

People can be making their way in life, moving toward whatever goals and milestones they have set for themselves. Then, things quit moving; their plans get stalled. Or, those goals quit seeming important. Maybe they reach a milestone, but realize that they are not satisfied; something is still missing. What was once meaningful no longer is, and they look for a new way to find fulfillment.

Warnings from others.

The atmosphere on the Titanic grew increasingly tense as more and more people realized that something was wrong. The crew started urging people toward the lifeboats. While trying to maintain a professional calm demeanor, they nonetheless made it clear that the passengers needed to leave the ship.

In our world today, the atmosphere is tense and it is obvious that something is wrong. Christian evangelists are warning that no one is safe, that everyone needs to seek rescue.

The floor tilts.

As the Titanic’s bow filled with water, the stern began to lift. Estimates are that it reached about a 20 degree angle above the water before the ship began to break in two.

In life, something can happen — an illness, a tragic loss, a job setback — that totally changes a person’s perspective. Everything is out of place, and they struggle to find stability.

Don’t Miss the Lifeboat

Are you still clinging to the idea that your life-ship is unsinkable? Pay attention to the clues around you. Are they telling you that you need a lifeboat?

Jesus paid a great price so that He could offer rescue. And unlike the Titanic, which did not carry enough lifeboats to save everyone on board, Jesus provides plenty of rescue for everyone who wants it. There is no need for anyone to die, but that’s what will happen if they refuse to get into the lifeboat that He provides. Choose the narrow, nonintuitive way…and live!

Footnotes and Scripture References

  1. Sorry to be so blunt. But that is the Bible’s clear teaching: That sin causes permanent separation from God that can only be reconciled by Jesus. But the other clear teaching is that Jesus provides a solution that is available to everyone who will accept it.

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture reference links go to, which defaults to another good translation, the New International Version (NIV).  The site has 20 or more translations available for reference.