A wild, swearing tyrant of a sea captain lay on his back in his cabin at sea, death staring him in the face. He was terrified, and fear of the unknown gripped him. He sent for his first officer. “Williams,” he said, “kneel down and pray for me. I’m awfully bad. I’m afraid I’m bound for eternity this trip.”
“You know I’m not a praying man, Captain. I can’t pray.”
“Well, bring your Bible and read me a little; my rope’s run out.”
“I don’t have a Bible, Captain. You know I’m not a religious man,” said Williams.
The second and third officers were called in desperation, but like the first, neither prayed to God nor owned a Bible.
What was to be done for the dying sinner? They searched the ship for a man who prayed or had a Bible. Finally the cook’s boy, Willie Platt, was found to have one. He was sent with his Bible to the dying captain.
“Find something in it that will help me now. I’m going to die! Find something about God having mercy on miserable sinners like me!” cried the distressed man.
Poor Willie! He didn’t know where to begin. But remembering his mother, he turned to Isaiah 53 and read through the fifth verse, which says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
The captain, who had been listening for his life, realized that he was certainly having his last chance. “Stop, boy; read it again!”
Willie repeated the blessed soul-enlightening verse. “Ah, my boy, that’s good; that’s it.”
Willie got braver. “Captain, when I was reading that verse at home, mother made me put my name in it.” Reverently the boy read, “He was wounded for Willie Platt’s transgressions, He was bruised for Willie Platt’s iniquities; the chastisement for Willie Platt’s peace was upon Him, and by His stripes Willie Platt was healed.”
When he finished, the captain said, “Boy, put your captain’s name in it – John Coutts!”
Willie read, “He was wounded for John Coutts’ transgressions, He was bruised for John Coutts’ iniquities; the chastisement for John Coutts’ peace was upon Him, and by His stripes John Coutts is healed.”
The captain lay back, repeating the glorious words of Isaiah 53:5, putting in his own name. As he did, the joys of heaven filled his born-again soul. Another poor sinner for whom Christ died had received Him (John 1:12)!
Before his spirit left him, John Coutts witnessed to every man on his ship, that Jesus was wounded for his transgressions, Jesus was bruised for his iniquities, that the chastisement of his peace was upon Jesus, and that by the stripes of Jesus he was healed.
“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Scriptures from The New King James Version, ©1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. By permission.