I really have mixed feelings about writing this post. The last thing on earth I want to do is to add to the already excessive sensationalism in print. Neither do I want to capitalize on someone else’s immense pain to make a point.
Nonetheless, I’m going to proceed because too many people want to know how we can believe in Jesus Christ in the face of the kind of madness and murder that I am about to address.
This past Friday in Brunswick, Georgia, Sherry West was pushing her 13-month-old baby Antonio Santiago along in his stroller when a young man approached her and demanded that she give him her money. She said she had no money to give him. The young man threatened her and threatened to kill her baby. She pleaded with the man not to harm her baby. In response, the man shot Ms. West twice and then turned and shot the baby in the face. The baby died.
When I read news like this, it breaks my heart. It makes me grieve for the mother. It makes me think—even given the countless examples of mass, coldblooded murder throughout mankind’s history, what kind of evil is this that could prompt a man to gun down a toddler on purpose? The toddler was no threat to him. The toddler could not pick him out of a police lineup.
And I’m sorry to be overly graphic, but shooting the baby in the face? Doesn’t the face display the humanness of each of us more than any other part of our body? Shooting anyone in the face, isn’t that a kind of statement denying the very humanity of the victim? We’ve seen this in times of war when countries have propagandized their people to view the enemy as sub-human. But this crime on the streets of a small, American town—it’s just madness. It’s not the madness of a mental ward psychotic. This is raw, senseless evil.
When I read news like this, it makes me cry out with the Psalmist, “O Lord, how long will the wicked … celebrate? They spew out threats and speak defiantly … O Lord, they crush your people …They kill the widow and … they murder the fatherless. Then they say, ‘The Lord does not see this …’” (Psalm 94:3-7)
We cry out for justice. We cry out for relief from the insanity.
God Has Already Answered
Far from being indifferent to evil and suffering, God Himself instead became a baby, very much loved, no doubt, by a mother and a stepfather. That baby, before the age of two, became the target of a paranoid ruler’s murderous rampage (Matthew 2:13-16). Many mothers and fathers wept at the apparently senseless slaughter of their children in the vicinity of Bethlehem.
As an adult, Jesus wept over death. (John 11:35) Not just over the death of his friend Lazarus, for He knew that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. No, Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled (John 11:33) over the whole, ugly mess of human sin and its curse—death. Death is the natural consequence of rebellion against the Ever-Living One. (Romans 6:23)
But God Himself did not come in human form simply to commiserate with the tragedy of the human condition. He came to commence the arrival of justice.
Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, was subjected to a farce of a trial. The sinless Creator was judged by those whom He had created. He was nailed to a tree where He hung until He died. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree …” (1 Peter 2:24) The Just One died for the unjust, once for all, in order that He might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)
God became man precisely for the purpose of enduring and overcoming evil and death. He suffered unjustly in the same way that humans suffer unjustly. Jesus Christ—being sinless God in the flesh—was even more innocent than any of us, and he took the full brunt of all the evil of the world on our behalf.
Through His bodily resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ has already defeated death, evil, and suffering. (1Corinthians 15:55-57)
Now please get this—the world continues on at this time because God is patient, not willing that any should perish eternally (2 Peter 3:9). It is for the sake of those who will accept Him and live forever in glory that God has not yet brought to a conclusion the judgment of mankind and with it the end of all evil in all its various forms.
Jesus Christ will return, and in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where only righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13)
Believe, and wait expectantly for the only just Judge.