Human challenge trials ∙
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13
42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.”
43 “But among you, it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,”
44 “and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.”
45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
With the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the race began for a vaccine. Confidence is high that an effective vaccine could be developed. But the timeframe was initially projected to be 12 to 18 months until it could be thoroughly tested and approved for use by the general population.
During that time, perhaps hundreds of millions of people became ill, and millions died throughout the planet.
But an uncommon but not novel idea which seems somewhat outlandish at first gained ground as a way to hasten the development of a coronavirus vaccine: Human challenge trials.
Human challenge trials require a group of volunteers to receive a dosage of a potential vaccine and, at the same time, be deliberately exposed to the virus. This simple human challenge would test the vaccines’ efficacy.
In April 2020, 35 House legislators urged the FDA to allow such testing. It was compared to dangerous, if not suicidal missions undertaken during a time of war.
There was no shortage of volunteers. By late September 2020, there were 37,254 volunteers signed up from 162 countries on the website 1daysooner.org. This was so even though some might become seriously ill or even die.
Scientists could shave months off of final testing by intentionally giving humans a dose of the virus and the vaccine in a laboratory. However, many doctors were very uncomfortable with the proposal, considering it “ethically unthinkable.”
For the volunteers, it was an entirely different affair. Their focus was on the results, not the risk. Untold lives could be saved by putting their own lives on the line. If they could move the vaccine’s release forward by even a day, thousands of lives could be saved. Such extreme altruism is rare but not unprecedented, particularly during times of war. One of the volunteers commented, “times like these call for people who are able to be brave and put themselves forward for the greater good of society – this may be the defining period of my lifetime.”
There are cases when that which is “ethically unthinkable” becomes “ethically imperative.”
Such personal sacrifice for the good of others seems almost unthinkable. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The precedent was set for all-time 2000 years ago.
REFLECT & PRAY
We were ruined by sin and helpless. The Lord Jesus Christ rose to the challenge, rescued us from sin and death, and gave us eternal life.
Father thank You that You loved each of us individually enough to send the Lord Jesus Christ to die in our place, the One for the many. As a result, we will not perish but have everlasting life.
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The Greek word translated as ransom is lutron. Lutron signified the money paid for the release of slaves. The New Testament focuses more on the results of the price paid, that is, redemption, deliverance, or release (UBS).
The Greek word translated as for is anti. Anti is commonly translated for and has the added meaning of instead of, on behalf of, in the place of, or in exchange. It includes the concept of substitution.
The Lord Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price; He laid down His life to provide redemption and release for all children of the King.
It was the greatest act of love ever performed in the history of the human race.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
But Christ did not just die for His friends. He died for the whole world.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Many people throughout the ages have given their lives for others, particularly for people they love or causes that they believe in. It is the ultimate act of altruism.
The apostle Paul realizes this and discusses that in-depth.
5 For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for an especially good person.
8 But God demonstrated his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
One of the many things that stands out about the death of the Lord Jesus Christ and sets it apart from other acts of altruism is that He died for us while we were still the Father’s enemies (Romans 5:10).
The great challenge laid before the Father and the Son was: what could They do to reconcile wayward, rebellious, defiant sinners to themselves?
The answer was the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father’s love made it “ethically imperative” to send His one and only Son as a sacrifice for the many. It was a “suicidal mission.”
Romans 5:18 Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.
“All humanity was involved in a situation from which there was no escape; sin had human beings in its power, and there was no hope. Into this situation came Jesus Christ, and he brought with him something that broke the old deadlock. By what he did, by what he is, by what he gives, he enabled men and women to escape from a situation in which they were hopelessly dominated by sin . . . it is completely true that the world was ruined by sin and rescued by Christ” (Barclay).
© Dr. H 2022