Summary: The terrorist attack in Bali came a week before I was to preach on the subject of murder, and a National Day of Mourning was declared for that Sunday. God does work in mysterious ways...
Over the last few weeks God has been showing me how his timing is always perfect. I became more convinced of this when I realised what sermon I had planned to preach today. In view of the events of the last week today’s passage seems to be the most appropriate in the Bible.
The bombing in Bali sickened all of us. The scale of the tragedy in America hurt us all too, but Bali sickened us because it seems to have been an attack on us, Australians. People died not because of their political belief, or their religion, or because they had taken up arms in war, but because they were Australians. They died because of something that every person in this hall is guilty of.
We are sickened because it was so close to home. Many of the famous people of Australia were involved in some way. We can feel the pain of the footy club who lost one of their star players. Other people we see on TV every night lost relatives in the blast. Closer than that, many of us know people who have lost loved ones in the attack.
We are also lifted by some of the stories of bravery we have heard. We hear about the star AFL footballer who escaped unharmed, but re-entered the club to look for his companions, and ended his footballing career in the process.
This last week has been an ordeal for so many. The Federal Government has proclaimed today as a Day of Mourning, and it is good that we observe it.
I do not want to discuss the rightness or wrongness of the bomb blast. Much has been said about the motives of the attackers. Whilst we may sympathise with some of their angst I don’t think too many people can say that what happened was good. It was an act of evil, pure and simple.
This sermon isn’t intended for the Balinese terrorists. What does God have to say to us about murder? Do we run the risk of falling into sin by reacting wrongly to this atrocity? How would God have us reply to the perpetrators?
***Establishing motive, your Honour***
What does Jesus say here about murder and what it is?
This is a difficult section of the Bible. It’s not difficult so much because it’s hard to understand, or because Jesus seems to contradict other things in the Bible. It’s difficult because it’s hard to do.
If modern Christian literature is anything to go by, you would think that Jesus should have given a list of rules here. But he doesn’t. He says nothing about abortion. He says nothing about euthanasia, or capital punishment, or embryonic stem cell research, or suicide or just war theory. Not a bit.
Jesus talks here about sinning not in terms of what you do, but in terms of what’s inside of you. He doesn’t want to know if you’re a murderer in the legal sense, but if you are a murderer in your heart. What does this mean?
**The difference between murdering and killing.**
Before we go on, we have to ask ourselves if it is ever right to kill. Many of us would have learnt the Ten Commandments as they appear in the King James Bible, where we are told, Thou shalt not kill. Most scholars agree that the translators made a slight error here—the word translated ’kill’ should have been translated ’murder.’ In other words, killing isn’t necessarily banned, but murder is.
Still, we have to ask what the difference is. Is there ever a time when it is right to take the life of a human being?
† Suicide—can be highest form of good, if your life is given for another (war heroes, Jesus)
† Abortion—act of self defence(in the case of extreme danger to mother)?
† Premeditated killing—act of legitimate war (whatever that is), defending self or others.
There are times when killing another human being may be legitimate, or even morally required. But life is sacred and should never be taken lightly. I’ve heard of a Native American tribe who were great warriors and hunters, but who valued life as supreme above all else. When they went to war—which was always in self defence—they wore war paint, because they were ashamed of what they were doing, and didn’t want the gods to recognise them. When they killed a beast for food they would apologise and mourn its death. Do we have the same view of the sanctity of life?
Jesus seems to have in mind a particular type of killing—killing that springs from anger in the heart. In other words, what we might call a crime of passion. But for Jesus it goes a lot further.
In Australian law there is a difference between murdering someone and attempting to murder them. [Explain difference].