Ornithorhynchus paradoxus. Let me say that again. Ornithorhynchus paradoxus. That’s the scientific name that Johann Blumenbach invented for the platypus when he saw a specimen in 1800. It literally means “bird-snout paradox”. We know what a bird-snout is but what’s a paradox? A paradox is a seemingly self-contradictory statement that upon further investigation proves true. You can see why an egg-laying creature with fur, webbed feet and a duck’s bill would give rise to the name paradoxus. But did you realise that many biblical statements are also paradoxical? Jesus said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it”. Jesus also said, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”. Are you confused yet? You could call this platypus theology.
“Whoever would save his life will lose it”. Jesus is describing someone who loves the god of self above anything else. Look out for number one! is their motto. This is one who uses everyone and everything in their world to satisfy themselves. And Jesus clearly teaches that this person’s soul will lose out on eternal life and perish. This is why Jesus goes on to say, “but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Here Jesus describes one who willingly gives up their own ambitions, sinful desires and self-autonomy to follow Jesus. This person will end up gaining eternal life. But doesn’t this sound a bit scary? Don’t I know what’s best for myself? Can I really trust Jesus with my life? I don’t like platypus theology! But there’s more.
“Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” Jesus says. Jesus means here that when someone comes to him in faith, recognising their own wicked heart and trusting in him alone for forgiveness of sin, even physical death cannot stop them from gaining eternal life. This is amazing! But there’s more. “Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” Jesus tells his disciples. But I thought he just said I would die?! The answer is that Jesus is here speaking about eternal death. Every one of us will experience physical death when our soul will depart from our body. But no one who trusts in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins will never experience soul death. Soul death means spending eternity in hell enduring the punishment of God’s wrath for breaking his law. And no one who trusts in Christ and follows him will experience this.
Jesus willingly gave up his own life on the cross for sinners. He endured God’s wrath on the cross for everyone who comes to him in faith. And after dying, he rose again from the dead to prove that the Father had accepted his payment for sin. If you come to Christ in faith, you will receive eternal life. And even death will not take it away! That is good platypus theology!
By Pastor Allen Beardmore