Written By Karen Kwek, Singapore
I can’t wait for The Doctor to return in August 2015. No, not any of the medics in Scrubs or Grey’s Anatomy—this is The Doctor who pre-dated them all. I’m talking about Doctor Who, the British science fiction series that has picked up a worldwide following in recent years.
In 2013, the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special was broadcast simultaneously in 94 countries. Not bad for a millennium-old, space-and-time-travelling alien with an average physique and no supernatural powers whatsoever! That’s right, The Doctor, in his various regenerations (he takes on a new form when he “dies”), is more like your bumbling, eccentric Physics professor or the techno geek next door than Superman. You’d be hard pressed to find a more unlikely defender of Planet Earth.
“When they made this particular hero,” says series writer/producer Steven Moffat, “they didn’t give him a gun, they gave him a screwdriver to fix things. They didn’t give him a tank or a warship or an X-wing fighter, they gave him a call box from which you can call for help. And they didn’t give him a superpower or pointy ears or a heat ray, they gave him an extra heart. They gave him two hearts. And that’s an extraordinary thing; there will never come a time when we don’t need a hero like The Doctor.”
What kind of hero? Someone who fixes broken things, who’s just a phone call away, and whose physiology speaks an overflow of love. Because, when you think about it, isn’t that exactly the kind of hero that the human race will always need?
Think about it: Some of the disasters we suffer, like earthquakes, tsunamis and pandemics, come from nature, but our moments of greatest suffering—genocide, terrorism and racism, just to name a few—are caused by human strife.
We don’t need a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space, the Doctor’s time machine masquerading as a blue police call box) to see that this has been true throughout human history. Even at the individual level, petty rivalries and unkindness mark our everyday lives. To God, the Divine Doctor, we are terminal cases: condemned and unable to save ourselves.
But God has done something about it. He stepped into time and space as a man, and as the unlikeliest of heroes, at that: a nobody, the son of a carpenter from a backwater in Galilee, with no beauty or majesty. He was despised and rejected by humankind; he was not a man of steel but of suffering, and he was familiar with pain. (Isaiah 53:2-3).
Yet such a man came to heal the broken, the lame, and the blind, taking upon himself the punishment for our rebellion against God. In this life, disaster will still plague us from within and without, but as Jesus’ sacrifice reconciles us to God, we can face suffering with the certain hope of a perfect eternity with God. In Christ, God has given us the ideal remedy for our terminal illness.
And so, this August, when I’m watching The Doctor on his manic missions to save the planet, I’m going to be extra grateful for the salvation that Jesus, our ultimate hero, has won for us. “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)