I had a grandad called Willfred. He was lots of silly fun. He let you mess up his hair, and punch him in the stomach, and laugh at his silly sayings and doings. But he would also give you lots of attention, playing a game, going for a walk on the beach. He would give you the greatest gift, the gift of time.
If the Doctor had a dad (or grandad), this is the sort he would want too, a Wilfred. In the final two episodes of David Tennant’s Doctor (End of Time Part 1 & 2) there are some brilliant conversations between the two of them, revealing a great deal of mutual affection and respect. Yet from the first time the Doctor met Wilfred in the Titanic episode (at a news stand on earth, one Christmas eve) he was destined to have a pivotal role in the Doctor’s story. Like Donna, Wilfred was at the heart of coincidence. The universe had drawn him into the Doctor’s story, to fulfill a pre-appointed destiny.
DOCTOR: But I was told. He will knock four times. That was the prophecy. Knock four times, and then
WILF: Yeah, but I thought, when I saw you before, you said your people could change, like, your whole body.
DOCTOR: I can still die. If I’m killed before regeneration, then I’m dead. Even then, even if I change, it feels like dying. Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away, and I’m dead. . . .
WILF: Now you take this. That’s an order, Doctor. Take the gun. You take the gun and save your life. And please don’t die. You’re the most wonderful man and I don’t want you to die.
While we were all looking the other way, at the Master and the four-beat drum rhythm pulsing through his brain, it was Wilfred who would deliver the final injury that spelled the end for doctor 10. The Doctor seemed to have some inkling of his significance, yet at the same time an enormous respect for him.
When Wilf is finally stuck inside the vinvocci glass about to be radiated to death there is this heart-wrenching exchange between Wilf and the Doctor, as the Doctor realises Wilfred is the one who would knock four times. It’s all sarcasm and anger from the Doctor, but in the end he declares it an honour to save Wilfred’s life.
(Watch below, or read further down)
WILF: Look, just leave me.
DOCTOR: Okay, right then, I will. Because you had to go in there, didn’t you? You had to go and get stuck, oh yes. Because that’s who you are, Wilfred. You were always this. Waiting for me all this time.
WILF: No really, just leave me. I’m an old man, Doctor. I’ve had my time.
DOCTOR: Well, exactly. Look at you. Not remotely important. But me? I could do so much more. So much more! But this is what I get. My reward. And it’s not fair! Oh. Oh. I’ve lived too long.
WILF: No. No, no, please, please don’t. No, don’t! Please don’t! Please!
DOCTOR: Wilfred, it’s my honour. Better be quick. Three, two, one.
Just like Wilfred, we can look to the One who offers to be our Saviour and say “never mind, just leave me.” But like the Doctor the one True Time Lord, Jesus, could never walk away. For the joy set before Him (that is, the joy of achieving our salvation!) Jesus endured the cross. Now He is drawing to Himself those the Father has given him. He will persist in bringing to salvation all who would believe. There is nothing so ‘timey-wimey’ as trying to wrap your brain about how ‘predestination’ works in God’s plans (see Romans 8 – 9 for more). But we can rest assured that the blood of Jesus God can rescue all who will come to him. And the offer to come is open to everyone. Don’t resist the voice of the Shepherd if you hear him today. He is mighty and willing to save. He is is the One who stands at our door and knocks. Answering His knocks will not lead to death, but life everlasting.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Psalm 95:7)