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Friday, April 18, 2014

The King Who Brings An End To Killing

painting by Nicolai Ge
He suffered the things we should have suffered.
    He took on himself the pain that should have been ours.
But we thought God was punishing him.
    We thought God was wounding him and making him suffer. 

But the servant was pierced because we had sinned.
    He was crushed because
we had done what was evil.
He was punished to make us whole again.
    His wounds have healed us.

- Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIRV)

The Bible is full of killing stories, from the account of the first born of Adam and Eve murdering his brother through multiple accounts of God's people engaging in war to destroy their enemies, the latter seemingly with God's approval.

Enter Jesus, introduced in the Christian Bible as God's only begotten, and as Savior, Prince of Peace and King of Kings. From that time on there are no more killing stories in scripture in which God's people commit the violence.

This is truly revolutionary. There is bloodshed in the New Testament narrative, of course, but the blood is all on one side. Wherever and in whomever the King of Kings rules killing and harming are done away with with.

Jesus devotes his entire life to doing good, then sacrificially offers up his life blood in a demonstration of how God overcomes evil by absorbing it and triumphing over it. By his self-giving life and sacrificial death we can all be saved from the power of violence and other forms of sin and evil.

Sadly, few of God's children have been willing to live under that rule, and thus to be liberated from their addiction to murder and mayhem. Every day brings even more news of cold blooded killings and ever more devastating accounts of brutality and war.

What I find most regrettable is the fact that so many so-called Christians continue to justify destroying each other, as illustrated by a tombstone in Mississippi that reads, "Here lies J. H. S. In his lifetime he killed 99 Indians, and lived in the blessed hope of making it 100, until he fell asleep in the arms of Jesus." *

As terrible as that sounds, none of us is free of responsibility when it comes to contributing to the untimely deaths of others. I recently ran across this sobering statement by German poet and writer Hermann Hesse: "We kill at every step, not only in wars, riots, and executions. We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, suffering, and shame. In the same way all disrespect for life, all hard-heartedness, all indifference, all contempt is nothing else than killing." 

This means we must all repent and come under the rule of a kingdom in which God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven. 

* from The "Substance of Faith and Other Cotton Patch Stories" by Clarence Jordan
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