River: The sky is full of a million million voices, saying, “Yes of course. We’ll help.” You’ve touched so many lives, saved so many people. Did you think when your time came you’d really have to do more than just ask? You’ve decided that the universe is better off without you. But the universe doesn’t agree.
The Doctor: River, no one can help me. A fixed point has been altered. Time is disintegrating.
River: I can’t let you die—
The Doctor: But I have to die!
River: Shut up! I can’t let you die without knowing you are loved. By so many and so much. And by no one more than me.
Last week, I had the great honor of meeting a Christian author and worship enthusiast, Ian M. Cron. Our class got to have about an hour of Q&A with him, and he was a wonderfully humble and gracious man, with a lot of wisdom to share. In the midst of everything, a student brought up some words that Mr. Cron had said during an interview some time ago about what he would say if he had to deliver the gospel in ten seconds or less. Those words went something like this:
“You are loved. The rest is peripheral.”
Ian Cron spent some time unpacking that statement with us. He suggested that the great truth of the gospel, the most important truth of our lives, is that we are loved, found beautiful, considered precious by the Almighty Creator of the universe, and it is our life’s work to really believe it. It was an interesting, thought-provoking discussion, which took me (nerd as I am) right back to this scene in the Wedding of River Song.
The Doctor is dying. He was supposed to be killed by River Song, but she chickened out at the last moment. In doing so, she altered that which can never be altered–a fixed point in time–and basically demolished the entire time/space continuum (or time vortex, as it is known to Whovians). Now, the Doctor is trying to make things right. He knows what has to happen, he has reconciled himself to it. Unbeknownst to everybody else, he even has a plan to continue on living after his supposed death. But at this particular moment, that is knowledge that only the Doctor has, and everybody else is trying to prevent the catastrophe that is his impending demise.
Orchestrating this rescue attempt is none other than River Song, the woman who would be the Doctor’s murderer. And yet, in the midst of everything, she has fallen in love with the man she was raised to kill. She wants nothing more than for him to be safe, and yet since that is impossible, she wants nothing more than to let him know just how much he is loved.
It takes a lot to break through the thick shell of the Doctor, a man hardened by centuries of travel, heartache, and loss–a man so committed to the notion that the people he cares for are better off without him that he has been systematically saying his goodbyes, leaving them behind, letting them have their own, normal, happy lives. And yet River, just as stubborn as her beloved Doctor, would rather destroy all of time and space than let him go on for a second more thinking that he has to be alone, unloved, and forgotten. She puts the entirety of creation in danger just to say “I love you,” just for the hope that he might really believe it.
Perhaps this puts into perspective exactly what happens when God sends His Son, Jesus, to earth, knowing that soon He will have to be despised, rejected, beaten, tortured, abused, and killed in one of the most public and shameful ways possible, in order to bear the sin of the entire human race, the sin of all creation across space and time. Three days later, He will rise again, and with him will come the hopes of all humanity that resurrection is not an impossible, far-off dream, but a truth that is realized even now and held in certainty for the future. And all of this, a life, death, and resurrection that will change the very nature of reality now and forever, is the God of the universe saying “I love you,” just for the hope that we might really believe it.
We’re getting into the heart of the Easter season this week, as Palm Sunday is just a few days away, and Holy Week follows. This is when we celebrate the most significant demonstration of God’s love that is recorded in our Scripture. This is the event that makes us who we are as Christians.
What would it be like if we really believed it? If we put aside our false humility, our self-pity, our feelings of inadequacy, and just wholeheartedly believed in a God who truly loves His people? Who doesn’t want them to end their time on earth without that knowledge, which can change their very lives?
What if we heard the words of River Song through the voice of our Savior instead: “I can’t let you die without knowing that you are loved. By so many. So much. And by no one more than me.”
Would that make us really believe it?