By Edgar Jones
The Great Principle of Jesus reads as follows:
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. (Mark 8:34,35)
We had retired for the evening when I began to experience severe head pains. Seeing me in distress and lapsing into unconsciousness, Nellie phoned Dan, our physician-son who, hearing of my condition, said,
"Mom, hang up and dial 911!"
She did -- but I knew little of it. I was taken from home about midnight on Saturday and vaguely recall being loaded onto a gurney and placed in an ambulance. There was the ride to the nearest hospital, where a large blood clot was discovered on the right side of my brain. This required brain surgery, so I was transferred to another hospital. The balance of that night is lost to me, but I recall awakening about noon on Sunday when the surgeon appeared. He said, "I removed the blood clot and all of the blood, found the source of bleeding and stopped it." I had just been treated to brain surgery. It saved my life.
This was the unexpected consequence of a recent fall when I struck my head on the carpeted bedroom floor -- so hard that I lost consciousness. On reviving I checked, first by feeling with my hands for blood or bumps and then by looking in a mirror. There was no visible injury, not even a bump or sore spot, because the carpet cushioned the blow. I was not experiencing pain so I proceeded thereafter on the naive assumption that all was well.
All was not well. The blow had produced a subdural hematoma. A ruptured blood vessel was slowly bleeding onto my brain, just under the dura, the membrane that envelopes the brain.
I remained blissfully unaware of injury until the following Saturday evening when, after retiring, a severe head pain quickly led to unconsciousness. That's when Nellie phoned Dan and the events described above began to unfold.
I relate this so that you may know that I made no attempt to save my life. Everything was beyond my control. The force of the world, for loved ones, is always in the direction of saving life. Such was the case when Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane where his disciple, Peter, attempted to save him by wielding a sword in his defense. The Lord commanded Peter to put up his sword. Then he submitted himself to an arrest that he knew would lead to his death.
None of this can be understood without reference to the Great Principle. The gist of the Great Principle is simple. One who loves the Father in heaven -- now, at this very moment -- wants to go to Him -- now, at this very moment. This is the one and only way to gain admission to heaven! One that does not want to go to the Father, now, can be said to love his life in this world. If, when death does come to me, it finds me attempting to save my life, I will not see the Father.
Jesus of Nazareth, our examplar and leader, laid down his life saying,
Now, Father, I am coming to you!
Such is the significance of the crucifixion. It was not a sacrifice for sin. It was not a substitutionary atonement. It was not anything other than an example of the Great Principle in action, the principle by which he both lived and died. Anyone that would follow him to the Father must qualify as he qualified. It is as he said:
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me is not able to be my disciple.
By this all may know that I did not attempt to save my life. Others saved it contrary to my will while I, unconscious, knew nothing of it.
From the point of view of the person of the world, the 911 System is a wonderful thing that is saving many lives every day, as it saved mine. But for me, for the disciple of Jesus, it can be useful primarily to get one quickly to a hospital to repair an injury that is not necessarily fatal when not treated promptly. One does us no favor by calling 911 to save our lives.