I was reading a fictional thriller the other day that has to do with the former royal family of Russia, the Romanovs. The author does a fantastic job of bringing history to life on the page, and the book really caught my attention when a certain main character of the story is tasked with administering the execution of the entire Romanov family - Tsar Nicholas Romanov , his wife, and ALL his children.
Although this book is a work of fiction and speculation, the following occurred to me.
At some point, whomever oversaw the execution of the Romanovs (IF it really happened), they were faced with that one crucial decision...a decision that would change the face of their country, and even the world - forever!
Can you imagine? What would that be like? Your countrymen just overthrew what you have seen as a corrupt oligarchy, and you are about to carry out an order to eliminate an entire bloodline. Can you even call this a high pressure situation? I mean, it seems like one would feel so much more than pressure.
And so I began to think of other times in history when one single person had an impact on events that would change the political climate of the world. What was going through that particular person's head at that particular moment?
What was going through Lee Harvey Oswald's mind before he shot JFK (Did he shoot JFK, or did someone else?)? What was John Wilkes Booth thinking the moment before he killed Abraham Lincoln? What entered the first Japanese pilot's mind just before he dropped the first bomb on Pearl Harbor? What was George Washington thinking right before he was sworn in as the first President of the United States? What went through Martin Luther King Jr.'s mind just before he delivered his "I have a dream" speech in Washington? What entered either pilot's thoughts just before they opened the bomb bay doors and dropped Fat Man or Little Boy over Hiroshima or Nagasaki? What was Julius Caesar thinking about as he realized the senators were all betraying him? What did Genghis Khan think about right before he ordered his men to let the first arrows fly and pillage the first town or village?
Have you thought about it before? Put yourself in some of these positions...what would you have done differently? Some of the people I listed above were thought of as radicals; others wise beyond their years. But can you just imagine? Some of the people I listed, and other instances in history I left out, have been able to give interviews or wrote down some of their thoughts...but some we will never know.
Now, after bringing these thoughts up, I am reminded of one more great single Person in history, and his story (History;) ) is like no other. That Person was the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And Christ's story is unique also in the fact that before what we thought would be the end of this great man, we hear his thoughts precisely.
Put any one of us in Christ's place on the cross on that fateful day at Golgotha, and we would never think to utter the ultimate words of humility spoken by Jesus.
He said, "Father - forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Wow - a man on the precipice of history like no other before him or ever since - and he puts the human race ahead of Himself!
I guess none of us could ever follow that, right? But can't we all learn something from it?
I don't know if anyone who reads this blog post will ever be on the precipice of history or not - but before every great decision we make, perhaps we can do what the ultimate example of a man did in His shining moment...and put others ahead of ourselves.