When I heard what had happened, I was at work. It broke my heart. It remained on my mind for several days, and I still think of it often. I mourn for those 20 children and their teachers who were murdered. I mourn for their families. I mourn for the murderer and his family. I pray for hope for their families, and for this nation.
The day after it happened, I realized that I hated this man. How could someone murder innocent people, much less children? It was a horrifying crime. Then, the words of Jesus Christ came to mind, and I realized that I am no better than he is.
I am no better than the man who murdered so many.
No, I have never committed a crime, or murdered anyone, according to the world. According to Jesus, though, because I hated that man who killed so many, I murdered him. A moment of hate was no better than committing murder.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
(Matthew 5:21-22 ESV)
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
No sin is worse than the other. Lying is no better than murder, and murder is no worse than hate. The point is that they are all sins.
This realization humbled me to tears. No, I have never murdered anyone, but I am no better than the man who did. He committed a horrifying crime, yet I have harbored hatred and jealousy and unforgiveness in my heart. His sin horribly affected more lives, but my sins affected my life and those closest to me.
A few weeks ago, I was teaching the kids in my Wednesday night class at church. We were talking about sin, and how we inherited a sinful nature. One simple thought, one momentary desire to sin, condemns us to an eternity of suffering.
However, I told them, this is not the end of the story. This is where Jesus came in.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
Romans 3:21-25 ESV
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Romans 5:1-2 ESV
Because of Christ, I now have grace and hope. Even though my thoughts betray me often and my flesh is evil, Christ, through his blood and suffering, offers redemption. Only through him do I have hope for the redemption of my sinful nature.
Thus, I am humbled and thankful for this undeserved grace. I, a sinner, will live in the presence of God from now throughout eternity.
This man, who died after he murdered many, also had the offer of redemption, of the grace of God. Unfortunately, he did not follow Christ. Every person, however, no matter how sinful, has this same offer.
Because sin is sin, one person is no better than another.
And because grace is grace, each person has the opportunity to receive it.
Praise be to God.