I stared at the screen of my laptop as Felix Baumgartner edged his way onto a platform of his balloon-born capsule 24 miles above the year and leaped off. On the way down he not only broke the record for free falling distance, he also broke the sound barrier. His fall speed was just under 834 miles per hour. In case you’re wondering, that’s fast! For about four and a half minutes he fell – just fell! Then he opened his parachute and glided safely onto terra firma.
It was an impressive feat of bravery and engineering. Baumgartner’s accomplishment was not all that different from those first brave pioneers of aeronautics who risked life and limb to do things that had never been done before.
Following the jump, Baumgartner said: “When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about of breaking records anymore, you do not think of about gaining scientific date. The only thing you want is to come back alive.”
A lot of planning and preparation went into his record setting jump. Everything was tested and re-tested. The weather had to be perfect. The equipment had to be as close to perfect as humanly possible. There were lots of things that could have gone wrong – including the daredevil deciding not to go through with it – but his intent was to come back alive and well. Death was a possibility; it was not the plan.
Jesus was not a daredevil. He did not do the things He did to break records or create new scientific data. Jesus came as our Savior. He knew the cross that awaited Him. He knew it would mean suffering, death, and bearing the sin of the world. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus wrestled with the cost of the decision, but He never waivered from His commitment to see it through. Unlike Baumgartner his plan was not to hit the ground alive and well, but to be removed from the cross dead and placed in a tomb.
Because Jesus was no ordinary man, the story did not end with his sacrificial death. Because Jesus is the very Son of God, He rose from the dead on the third day defeating sin and death and opening the way for us to have eternal life in Him. We can admire daredevils for their dramatic feats of bravery, but Jesus did not come to be admired; He came to be worshipped.