The bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon this past Monday is a tragic and graphic reminder of the sinfulness of our fallen world. Having run a few marathons and crossed a few finish lines, and having Joyce and other loved ones at those finish lines, brings this event even closer to home for us.
Its impossible to understand why someone would do something like that. But I think it all goes back to the basic temptations that Satan hit Jesus with in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, at the cross, and throughout His life.
The real issue then was whether or not Jesus would force His way upon people. Satan basically gave him that option. It’s the easy way. It’s the manipulative way. It’s not the way of freedom, but the way of control and power according to the way the world measures it.
The Son of God was given the opportunity to make people follow Him and do things His way. And not just during the temptations of Satan in the desert. That could have happened at any time. At any moment, “He could have called 10,000 angels to destroy the world and set Him free.” What the Jewish leaders said at the cross was exactly the way it could have happened. “He saved others, but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.” (Matthew 27:41-43) Except they wouldn’t have believed in Him—they would have believed in the force. That’s never been God’s way. Man’s way, yes. That’s the way of bombings and terror and forcing your beliefs and your frustrations on someone else. Never God’s way.
When it was clear that people were interested in human power and force, Jesus refused to respond. When He saw in His disciples, however, the need for faith to be built and encouraged, He always gave what was needed. His motives were never selfish. How could they be—He suffered and died on the cross! He refused to use His power and might to manipulate people to follow Him or to force people to worship Him.
The sinfulness that was on display in the horrible bombing in Boston was the same old sin that’s been around since the Garden of Eden. Selfishness. Having my way, no matter whether it’s right or wrong, no matter whether others suffer because of it. It’s amazing that the one person who actually had the right, the ability, and the justification for using force in that way, chose not to. And now He calls us to do the same.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
The good news of the gospel is, the way of the cross wins out in the end. The resurrection is victorious over the crucifixion. The tomb is empty. Faith is alive.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)