As a Jesus follower that is the only logical conclusion I can come to.
I have many thoughts on the death penalty, but here is just one.
During Jesus’ Sermon On the Mount he tells his followers,”You know that tradition that says if you kill someone, with or without intent, you will go before the judge? Well from now on if you’re even angry with someone you’re going before the judge.” (my dorky paraphrase of Matthew 5)
(scratching my head)
Sometimes it’s easy to take something challenging our Shepherd says and think, “Well, he couldn’t have meant it THAT way, he must have meant…”
Well, what if he really does mean what he says?
Are we SURE we want to be judge?
One of the most intense sections of The Shack for me was when Mack was invited to sit on the judgement seat. Who is he judging? Um, only God himself. God, who let’s murders live. God, who created man with the ability to perform evil acts. God, who lets children be tortured and serial killers roam. He panics, saying he doesn’t have the ability to be such a judge, to which the response is,
“Oh, that’s not true. You have already proven yourself quite capable.”
There are so many powerful parts of that story, but this is the one that shook me to the core. It was one of the many pieces of truth that eventually turned my heart towards radical non-violence.
“You know that tradition that says ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth?’ From here on out, don’t even stand against that evil person. I’m telling you to remain completely vulnerable.”
Are we sure we want to be judge? I wouldn’t take a million dollars to kick God off that seat, put on a black robe and hold the gavel. How many times have been angry even in this last week alone? How many times have I heart murdered my own family?
My question wasn’t ‘does she deserve the death penalty?’ The truth is that none of us are getting what we deserve.
That’s called mercy, my friends.
As soon as I read the word ‘again’ the lyrics of Thank You For the Cross drift through my mind.
Sometimes I forget about the cross and I need to look again.
When the image of it becomes too familiar, I look again.
When I self-condemn and forget he extinguished sin ONCE AND FOR ALL, I look again.
When I see my brothers and sisters lashing out in anger, I look again. I hear him say, “Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” I’m humbled by his mercy and I’m broken inside.
When resentment threatens to become more than a passing visitor, I look again. I marvel at his saving grace and I’m full of praise.
I look behind shaded eyes and see the highest of all kings in the most vulnerable position imaginable. He calls me his ‘friend?’ That is too absurd to understand.
Thank you for the cross, my friend.