by Stephen Whitney

This content is part of a series.

Substitutionary Atonement (2 of 4)
Series: Suffering Savior
Stephen Whitney
Isaiah 53:4-6

On June 14, 1985 TWA's Flight 847 left Athens, Greece for Rome with 153 passengers and crew on board. Shortly after takeoff two men one with a pistol and the other with a hand grenade hijacked the plane and forced everyone to put their heads down all the way to Beirut, Lebanon.

Minutes after taking off from Beirut to Algiers, the hijackers collected everyone's passports. Several Americans with official passports or military identification cards were called to the first class cabin. One young man named, Robert Stethem who was a Christian, stated without reservation that he was in the U.S. Navy. He was of medium height with a muscular build with black hair which capped a handsome face.

They began to scream at him about the battle ship USS New Jersey
which had shelled the hills around Beirut a year earlier. Stethem with his dark eyes impassive stared ahead resolutely. He was blindfolded and his hands were tied behind his back. Then the terrorists began beating him in the face and head with an armrest.

Not satisfied with his reaction they would leap into the air and land on him with full force. Then one of them braced himself in the doorway so he could use all his strength to stomp on Rob's body and face. Their brutality went on for at least two hours, but he did not cry out once because he wouldn't give them the satisfaction.
He looked straight at them and never asked for mercy.

While the plane was back in Beirut he feigned unconsciousness.
Laying near the open doorway, he could have easily rolled out and tried to make a break for it. But he said, "That would have been wrong. If I had gotten away the hijackers would have taken it out on the rest of the passengers." He told 16 year-old Ruth who sat next to him and held his bloody head in her arms, "That if someone had to die, it was better that he be the one."

Becoming increasingly angry ...

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