From my days sitting in court hearings, my ears are attuned to certain words. There are phrases reporters and coroners use to describe a murder that just jump out at me: stabbed… to death, clubbed… to death, shot… to death, choked… to death. You have to wonder.. why the “to death” part? It means that for every person shot, choked, stabbed, or clubbed, there is the exception… the guy who refused to die. It makes you understand some people have sustained horrendous injuries and lived to tell the tale.
There’s another phrase… and left for dead. That means the one who intended to kill did their job so well they assumed your demise was the only possible outcome. People survive some crazy stuff. If you were lying there insensible, it means the power to live is mysterious and deep, and did not originate in your conscious.
It makes me wonder about suicides. The term “successful” suicide is one they want to strike from sociological language. The whitewashed, more acceptable term is “completed suicide”. They don’t want to acknowledge that death is something a person so consciously desired. Sociologists want to point out that the one who died is victim rather than perpetrator, because truly, WANTING to die is a picture none of us want to contemplate.
The real lingering evil of suicide, is the despair that just hangs off you when you hear it. Suicide is the ultimate expression of despair, and despair is the opposite of faith. There is not much rational about it at all. It’s visceral. You either believe or you despair. There’s not much middle ground.
It makes me wonder about the victims - did the prompt come from them, or from another place? Life just wants to live so badly and death just wants to kill it equally badly. There is indeed something very evil about this that seems to originate outside of human beings - the Evil One that Jesus so ofter referred to in the New Testament as a great personality opposed to God’s purposes and to the human project. In a nutshell, Death is anti-life. It does not want you to live.
Fleming Rutlege has gone to great lengths to establish some theology behind this. She posits human beings as engaged in a cosmic struggle against the forces of Sin, Evil, and Death, which she capitalizes. “Sin is a power under which all of us are enslaved (Rom. 3:9; John 8:34). Only a greater power can liberate us.”
“God did not change his mind about us - He did not need to have his mind changed. He was never opposed to us. It is not his opposition to us but our opposition to him that had to be overcome, and the only way was by God’s initiative, from inside human flesh — the flesh of his Son.”
There is no practical purpose for Jesus coming to earth to live with human beings, if he was not going to live with, and ultimately confront death head on. There is that verse when Jesus showed up at the home of his late friend Lazarus. “Jesus wept.” It’s pretty succinct. Jesus was left to feel the entirety and awfulness of death. He wasn’t here as a shiny example of kindness or to invent new ways to be more spiritual. He was here to take the fight to mankind’s ultimate enemy.
“the meaning of Christmas is God invading the territory held by the Prince of Darkness. The definitive closure of this cosmic invasion, will be the final Day of God. On that last day there will be only one Ruler, only one Lord. Scripture is quite clear about that. The Judge of all the cosmos will not be Satan. Radical evil will have no status in the day of judgment.”
Colossians 2:14 - “He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.”
Jesus came to confront death, and its emissary the Devil. He took the accusations used against us, and nailed them to the Cross. In case our Accuser had anything else to say, I think that about settled it.
“Death shall have no more dominion” (Romans 6: 9). If evil is the absence of good, then the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ will be the absence of evil, for ever and ever.”