An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s love. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked it over with bird with a stick.
When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings.
The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies.
When the blaze arrived and the heat scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.
Likewise Christ gave his life to save us from the disastrous fire of sin.
Ahmed Shah was a famous ruler of Afghanistan.
The nation had been wracked by conflict among tribal leaders, but Shah brought peace. Legend has it Shah led the people to a secret valley that he had discovered on his travels, a vast plain, bordered on all sides by sheer cliff faces. To protect their new peaceful way of life it was imperative that no-one reveal the hidden passageway into the plain.
One day, Ahmed Shah was approached by a very nervous lieutenant. “Emir, we caught someone revealing the location of the secret passageway.” The traitor was Ahmed Shah’s mother!
Ahmed Shah was distraught. He could release Ahmed’s mother, kill the soldiers who captured her and hush the whole matter up by killing the guards who had captured her. But all chaos would break loose once word of this got out. Shah decided he would think it over during the night and announce his decision in the morning.
When morning arrived everyone gathered in the square. Ahmed announced his mother must receive a hundred lashes, which would almost certainly mean her death. Ahmed’s mother was marched into the square and bound.
The first two lashes already saw her bloodied and buckled. Ahmed could bear it no longer. He halted proceedings, untied his mother and carried her to his rooms.. He walked to his mother and untied her and carried her to his bed. Then emerging from his hut, he demanded that no-one move. He had something to say. He then addressed the crowd,
“The penalty for my mother’s crime was one hundred lashes. She has paid two of them. I will pay the other ninety-eight.” By the end Ahmed was at death’s door, beaten, bloodied and bruised. For some weeks it was unclear if he would survive. He did survive and his people never forgot this act of loving grace.
Source: story reported in Michael Frost, Jesus the Fool (Sutherland, NSW: Albatross, 1994) pp138-144