from the Ipswich Christadelphians

July 2012

Heroic failures?

As the count-down to the London Olympics nears its end and the Olympic flame makes its way around Britain, spare a thought for the incredible achievement of Claire Lomas, the last to cross the finish at the London Marathon, accompanied by a guard of honour from the Household Cavalry.

Paralysed from the neck down after a freak horse-riding accident in 2007, she took 16 days to complete the 26.2 mile course, thanks to a ‘bionic’ suit that allowed her to walk by detecting shifts in balance.   Claire’s remarkable achievement raised close on £100,000 for spinal cord research, but she was barred from receiving a finisher’s medal, by the rules which say the race must be completed in the day.   Nevertheless, 14 other competitors presented her with their own medals.

Claire’s achievement brings to mind others who triumphed against the odds and yet ‘failed’.   Take Scott’s tragic journey to the South Pole in 1912.   Beaten to the Pole by the Norwegians, on the return journey he and his companions froze to death within eleven miles of safety.   Or take Mallory and Irvine, who in 1924 disappeared high on the north-east ridge of Everest during their attempt to make the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain.   Whether they made it to the summit will probably never be known.

Christ crucified


Christ crucified

Amazing though these feats of courage and endurance were, they pale into insignificance besides the life and cruel death of the Son of God.   Yet some would dismiss his life as just another case of a heroic failure.

Let us consider the facts.   The Bible tells us that Jesus, the Son of God, was born of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.   We know from the brief account of his childhood that he was aware of his true parentage: confronted in the Temple by Mary and Joseph, he chided them: ‘... did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business,’ and Luke also records that ‘... he increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.’

Baptism and temptation

He was baptised by John in the river Jordan and blessed by his Heavenly Father.  There followed a period of 40 days in the wilderness during which he did not eat and was tempted, yet each temptation was successfully countered by drawing on the Word of God.   Paul records that, unique among all mankind, he: ‘...was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.’

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God

His public ministry lasted some three and a half years during which he preached the Gospel (or ‘good news’) of the Kingdom of God and healed the sick of all manner of illness and disease.   He provoked a mixed reaction: the ordinary people flocked to hear him for he spoke to them ‘ one having authority, and not as the   scribes,’ but inevitably this caused jealousy and resentment among the Jewish elders who saw him as a threat to their position and feared the intervention of the Romans.    In vain they tried to catch him out with carefully contrived questions, and as his popularity grew they plotted to bring about his death.

Trial and execution

 Their opportunity came when Judas Iscariot offered to betray him under cover of darkness in the Garden of Gethsemane.   His trial before Pilate followed, then, despite Pilate’s misgivings about his guilt, he was cruelly scourged, and equally cruelly crucified – a truly horrible and agonising way to die.

Raised to newness of life

Was Jesus then a ‘heroic failure?’   By no means!   The risen Jesus now dwells in heaven awaiting the appointed day to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.   Let the apostle Paul have the last word:

 ‘But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.   Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.’ (1 Corinthians 1:23-25)

Don’t delay, time is running out to respond to the call of the Gospel!