Much of Australia is now mourning the deaths of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the two Australian nationals executed in Indonesia this week. There is much to be said about ethics surrounding the death penalty, but that has already been covered by others.
These men and their story have impacted me deeply, and remind me so much of the gospel.
Like Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran, we also are also guilty of breaking the law. We do so every day when we choose to live for ourselves, and not for others. When we justify ourselves, and condemn others. When we see that we can do good, but we don’t do it. What we do when we think no one is looking. When our hearts are filled with hate, selfishness or pride; in a thousand different ways.
Unlike Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran, we have not reformed our behaviour, and cannot. For our behaviour comes from within the deep crevices of our hearts. Changing behaviour is not the issue – there’s a large part of us that doesn’t even want to change. We’re guilty, sentenced to death and refusing to listen to the judge, to the law. “No one tells me how to live” we say, “I’d rather die free, than be chained by your rules”.
But unlike President Widodo, who denied mercy to reformed criminals, in order to protect his position of political power – the Christian story is somewhat different. God, our judge knew how much we hated his rules, knew the price that our hatred would cost us – and swept into action. Throwing aside his power as God, he stooped and bore the consequences of OUR actions. He stooped and took his own punishment, his own medicine. He chose death, rather than lose us; All in the hope, that this final, desperate act of love – might melt and reform our hardened hearts. That we would shun the death that comes from our ‘no one tells me how to live’ mentality, and rather choose to live a life of dying-to-self, giving our lives away for others. Like he did.
“Jesus… who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Jesus who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3
You were the joy set before him… It was love for you that caused Christ to die. Love for you and I.
In the wake of these executions, we may feel very strongly about mercy, or strongly about justice. God dispensed with neither on that other fateful night; He was both merciful and just. Let us not forget that we deserve a much worse fate than Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran. Look what it cost God to love you, to show mercy to you, and perhaps your heart too might be melted and reformation can truly begin.