You cannot read the Bible and come to the conclusion that death is part of God’s original plan. It’s apparent from the start, death was not meant to be a reality for humankind. Yet it was invited to the table, given a position of apparent power, and now all must face the reality of it. A reality, no matter it’s imminence, that continually catches us off guard and unprepared. Some say this is an innate indication that death was not meant to be, that it is not part of our created design.
Unfortunately, however, at a time when many eyes were turned away from the realities of day-to-day life over the past week, we were reminded of the horrors death can bring. On Valentine’s Day, seventeen people, teachers and students alike, were killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Not only did this come at a time when many were celebrating the modern holiday centered on love, but also as many TVs were tuned into NBC watching as the world united to enjoy the 2018 Winter Olympics. In the midst of the events focused on togetherness, the city of Parkland was being ripped apart. While others were celebrating love and unity, Parkland had fallen victim to anger and hatred, suffering great loss and immense grief.
Events like those endured in Parkland are virtually unfathomable. They raise questions ranging from practical to philosophical, questions that demand answers. “Who could perpetuate such atrocities?” “How do we prevent events like these from happening in the future?” “Why do things like this happen to innocent people?” These are difficult, nuanced questions that I won’t attempt to answer. Much more qualified people have attempted to answer them with much more expertise and eloquence than I can boast. I struggle in times like these to find comfort in my faith. I ask the same questions that others ask, and I can’t immediately articulate a good response to any of the above questions. To be honest, I’m not sure I am able to articulate a cohesive response at all. But still, there is a scripture that’s been ringing in my head the past few weeks. It comes from the gospel of John. Jesus said,
“All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture. The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”
John 10:8-10 WEB
The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I wish this weren’t true. I wish thieves did not exist. But events like those in Parkland are resounding reminders that thieves are a present day reality. Yet I take great comfort in the alternate reality Jesus offers in the second half of this verse. A reality that offers the recovery of what was taken, the rebirth of what was killed, and the remaking of what was unmade. Jesus offers these things, and he offers them abundantly. Jesus takes the apparent power of death and strips it of all control.
Jesus offers life.
- Danny Santoro