God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him…
And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. (John 3:16-19)
“This is the verdict.”
Can it be a co-incidence that when we come to church this week, when our national airwaves are full of justice finally being done on our enemy, we hear the most famous verses of the Bible, and one of the verses is: “This is the verdict.”
Verdict. Verum dictum. True word.
The truth harries a man who has done evil. We can run; we can blind ourselves; we can fill our heads with noise to provide a distraction. But the truth will not go away. The truth waits. It is patient. He is patient.
Christ came as the light of the world. He came to restore us to our original dignity. The dignity of man is to be a flute that harmonizes with the divine orchestra in a springtime fantasia. The dignity of man is to abide in peace with everything that is beautiful and true.
But Christ is patient about shining His light of truth. He let His life be snuffed out by evil men.
The truth is patient. He can afford to be.
Every self-serving trick that anyone tries to play on the truth will run its course in the end. Every scaffolding of lies erected to justify cruelty and violence will tumble to the ground. As sure as the stone rolled away from the tomb, the truth will be left standing.
So, yes: There is hardly any question that this man who bombed and bashed our country and killed our people in cold blood—there is hardly any question that this man deserved to die. The blood of the innocent dead cried out from the ground for justice.
But, I’m sorry: We are fools if we rejoice at this news of death, even a death that appears so thoroughly just.
The truth is patient. The Judge Who judges all does not hasten to speak His true word, His verdict upon us. To the contrary, He patiently holds back His Almighty hand, so that we might turn from sin and find salvation.
A decade of walking through airports in socks. A decade of confusing wars on the other side of the world. A decade of long lines, and hassles, and metal detectors everywhere. Ten years, a long time. A lot has been asked of our patience. We have been pretty amazingly patient these past ten years.
Could we not have been patient enough to capture this man and see him through a well-ordered trial in which the truth could soberly assert itself in all its clarity? Could we not have been patient enough to wait for a well-informed, rational verdict, laid down in accord with law, delivered without the prejudice of haste or raw emotion? Could we not have been patient enough to allow the truth, calmly laid out before him at the bar of justice, to maybe move even this man to repentance?
I think we could have been that patient. I think we could have been that dignified. I think we could have been that Christian.