A few years ago I was going to France to conduct some leadership seminars for missionaries in Europe… A friend of ours heard that we would be in Paris and began to urge us to go to the Rodin museum.
Rodin was a French impressionist sculptor. Though many do not realize his name, most are familiar with his work. He created the Thinker. What you may not realize is that the Thinker was really a study he had done to sit on the top of his greatest masterpiece - The Gates of Hell.
For years we have been wondering what it is that the Thinker is thinking about. No, he's not wondering about where he left his clothes the night before. What the Thinker is contemplating is an eternity of judgment separated from God.
I myself have always had an appreciation for art in general and for sculpture in particular - so much so that I have kept a copy of Rodin’s sculpture titled “The Thinker” on a shelf in my study ever since I became aware such a sculpture existed.
For this reason, I suppose, once I first read Cole’s story nearly two decades ago, it never left me. Then, a few years later, when my wife and I were privileged actually to go to Paris, we visited all the traditional tourist spots: the Eiffel tower, the River Seine, the Bastille, the Arc de Triumph and, of course, Notre Dame Cathedral.
But while there, I made it a point to also visit the Rodin Museum. And with my own eyes, I saw that Rodin’s most famous sculpture, that of “The Thinker”, was indeed part of his larger work titled “The Gates of Hell”. Cole was right. “The Thinker” was actually pondering the very gates of Hell itself, and likely all that entails – fire, brimstone, worms, darkness, torment, agony, and above all, eternity apart from God and His love.
Thus, men and women will only wind up in Hell because they have chosen to follow the Devil rather than God. Later on in verse 46 of that same chapter, Jesus Himself tells us that it is the wicked who will suffer eternal punishment; but that the righteous will experience eternal life.
And the way to know that one has eternal life in Heaven as opposed to eternal punishment in Hell is to embrace the grace and mercy made available through God’s son, Jesus Christ. As the Apostle John tells us (in his first New Testament Letter, chapter 5, verse 10-12):
10Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
For my part, I have found this gift of eternal life being offered through Jesus Christ. I trust you have as well. If not, I trust you will ponder where you could spend eternity. Trust me… it really is something to think about!
Neil Cole, Cultivating A Life For God (ChurchSmart Resources, 1999), p. 120.
By AndrewHorne (talk) - Own work (Original text: I (AndrewHorne (talk)) created this work entirely by myself.), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15582363.
By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France - Le penseur de la Porte de l'Enfer (musée Rodin), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24671002.