Many other ships have sunk — yet Titanic is the one that everyone remembers. The story has given us many books and films: James Cameron's film Titanic is the latest and most costly. Why do people remember this disaster?
The best ship ever!
Titanic was designed to be the biggest and best. Other ships were faster, but she was built for comfort and luxury. When Titanic was made in 1912, science and engineering were developing very fast. People believed they could do anything, make anything, be anything. They thought God was not needed any more. This beautiful ship was a picture of pride. The makers wrote in a 1910 leaflet that she could never sink. Yet three days into her first journey, she hit an iceberg and sank in three hours.
Why did she sink?
There were many different reasons. Not enough lifeboats were fitted. 'Watertight compartments' (metal safety sections inside the ship) were not built high enough. The 'lookout men' did not have binoculars. Captain Edward Smith took little notice of warnings about ice. After the crash, the nearest ship, Californian, did not switch on its radio even when it saw rockets sent up by Titanic.
No one on the ship that Sunday night expected anything to go wrong. The sea was as flat as glass. Yet one traveller on the ship believed people must be prepared to die at any time. He was John Harper, a Christian preacher from Glasgow, travelling with his six-year-old girl, Nan. She escaped in a lifeboat, but John gave away his lifejacket. As he struggled in the cold water, he shouted to a man floating on a piece of wood. John did not scream for help, but to ask the man if he was trusting in God. "No," said the man. "Trust in Jesus and you will be saved,"
John told him, then he sank under the water. This man was rescued, and told other people the story. To him, being 'saved' did not just mean to escape death by drowning. He had been rescued not only from the sea but also from his old life and ways. He turned to God and found a new life and a new reason for living.
The Titanic is like today's world
So many of us travel through life, not knowing where we are going. One day we will hit the iceberg — trouble, problems, finally death. We do not need to face these things alone. God wants to help us. Just as John Harper gave his lifejacket to someone else, Jesus died in our place. In the film story, Jack gave his life so that Rose would live. So too we can be rescued. Jesus has made a way for each of us to be with God for ever. We can know God as a friend to help us, even today.