What would I be willing to die for? As news trickles in about the death of journalists Hondros and Hetherington, my mind turns to this question. My child, of course, is the automatic response. Like most parents, I believe that I would ungrudgingly lay down my life for my child. Stories abound of parents throwing themselves on top of a child to protect him or her from falling objects, gunfire or storms. Parents starve so their children can live. Parents will do wonderful and terrible things to ensure that a child is protected. Surely this parental impulse is the purest love a human is capable of feeling and acting.
As I considered this question over the past couple of days, it occurred to me that I have never heard of a parent offering to go to the electric chair or the firing squad for their child. Parents of innocent children in concentration camps would certainly try to exchange their own life for the life of their child, but this impulse doesn’t seem to apply when we are talking about a child who has committed a heinous crime.
Another step down this road and another thought barges in: for what would I exchange my child’s life? This is not a new question for me. I believe strongly that schools should be supported but when my child was sent to a sub-par school, I didn’t hesitate to move her to a better one. I know that my presence as a volunteer, and her presence as a role model might have had a salutary effect on that school but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice her education for that goal. Obviously, since I won’t even sacrifice her education, I’m not going to sacrifice her life, no matter how just the cause.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. In the context of this question the story of Jesus’ death takes my breath away. I cannot conceive of a love that would willingly set aside all Godly powers and take on human form. I cannot imagine a love that would send the extension of self that is child to be helpless in this vile world. And even if I could somehow assimilate all of that, I cannot get past the idea that it was an exchange for someone else’s sin. It was done for my benefit – before I had even committed the first of my daily acts of selfishness.
Watergate conspirator Chuck Colson once wrote that the thing that persuaded him of the truth of the resurrection was that if it was a conspiracy it would have fallen apart. The perpetrators would have had a jolly time saving their own skins and pointing fingers at each other – probably even before the first head rolled.
This unfathomable, unimaginable, un-replicate-able love is what persuades me that Jesus was God come to earth. Only the Being with the power to create life out of nothing could possibly commit so great an act of love. There are no words of thanks that can suffice; I am left with only tears of humility in spite of the fact I know the end of the story. . . Blessed Easter my friends.