Cataclysmic Risk

Yesterday we considered the greatest secret in all creation. Today I want to look at why it was kept secret even from Christ. First we need to understand a little about risk analysis. The general practice is to look at two axis: impact (or consequences) and likelihood.


What is the risk of my coffee cup springing a leak on my desk? Pretty unlikely and the consequences would be pretty negligible as well, so low overall risk. Unlikely negligible scenarios don’t require much, if any, planning or mitigation.

Driving home last night, there was a higher probability I could have been involved in a collision. The impact could have been pretty severe, so I mitigated this possibility. I wore my seat belt and I own a car with air bags and other safety features. If I knew I was going to be in an accident, I wouldn’t drive home. Given the probability, I felt I took reasonable precautions.

Now let us consider the incarnation. We don’t know what the likelihood of failure was, but we can assume the impact of failure would have been catastrophic. We really aren’t given any clues from Scripture what the consequences would have been.

There are, though, two times in the Gospels that give us an indication that failure was an option. The first is the temptation in the wilderness. It can’t be a temptation if there isn’t potential to carry out the action one is tempted to. I’m not tempted to jump out my window and fly around, because I can’t. I’m tempted to lie, cheat, and steal.

If Jesus had succumbed, he would not have been sinless; he would have been just like the rest of us and would not have been a perfect sacrifice. Not only that, but it seems possible that the Trinity may have been ruptured. God does not tolerate uncleanliness or sin in his presence. If Christ had become a sinner, what would have happened?

The other time we are given a hint that failure was possible is in Christ’s words we considered yesterday:

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,
nor the Son, but the Father only.

Matthew 24:36 (ESV)

Jesus had to face his temptation, but here, we see evidence of mitigation. Jesus does not posses the information, therefore he cannot divulge it. I’m not sure how he may have been tempted to divulge it, but it was not a risk the Father was willing to take. Perhaps Jesus needed to not know in order to carry out his earthly ministry with proper focus?

Failure on either one of these points is a disturbing proposition. It is not fruitful to speculate on what failure may have led to other than to be grateful that we don’t know what would have happened because it didn’t go that way. Thanks be to God that Jesus fulfilled his mission in the incarnation so that we might be cleansed from our sins and given the opportunity to be in the presence of the Father.


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