Summary: What is the message of Christ to people, not just the McVeigh’s of this world, but all of us.
What Would Jesus Say to Timothy McVeigh
Ballard Assembly Pastor Bob Briggs June 9, 2001
On April 19, 1995, over six years ago, the fragile peace of mind of a nation was shattered when a Ryder Truck, loaded with explosives, detonated in front of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma taking the physical lives of 168 people and leaving a mental devastation, not just on the families of the victims, but on the soul of a nation. From shootings in businesses to killings on the nations schools, America has been rocked with random acts of violence. Tomorrow morning, bomber Timothy McVeigh, barring legal intervention, will pay the penalty mandated by a juror of his peers, sanctioned by the laws of this land, having his life ended by lethal injection.
Today, at the Federal prison, people supporting the death penalty and those opposed will make their statements as they begin a vigil lasting until McVeigh’s death tomorrow. I don’t think rational people are supporting the behavior of Timothy McVeigh, just the means of his passage into eternity. Death itself is a process. One that leads us from this life into our eternal reward or eternal damnation. I am not using this morning as a forum to debate the pro’s or con’s of the death penalty. I do want to talk about what Jesus would say to Timothy McVeigh, what He would say to you and I, both on this side of eternity and on the other.
I know how God feels about the random acts of violence which have become too commonplace in our nation. It says in Ezekiel 33:11 God takes no pleasure in the demise of evil people. Whether I support the death penalty or not, as a Christian, I am sadden to see the waste of McVeigh’s life. When I look at the pictures of McVeigh, I see potential lost. The plans the purposes, the what could have been. I also know, past tomorrow morning, there is another judgment awaiting Timothy McVeigh, one which has eternal consequences when he stands before a righteous and just God in the court of heaven, to give account. It is there the dealing of judgment will have much harsher results if one cannot provide the right defense. It is a court that not only will McVeigh face, but one that all of us will one day stand in the docket of to have a sentence given for the life we have lived.
What then, would Jesus say to Timothy McVeigh, what would he say to us. In this conversation Jesus would have, I am operating on the premise of this side of heaven.
I. No Pit is Too Deep.
Jesus would say to McVeigh, he would say to us, there is nothing you have done on this side of heaven that Jesus cannot help you with and through. John 3:16 says For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Lets be honest, we like that verse when we are talking about a loved one, someone we know, a good person that needs salvation and we want to encourage them to accept Jesus Christ. We have a problem with it when it comes to Timothy McVeigh and the Timothy McVeigh’s of the world. There are Bible believing Christians who would volunteer to push the plunger that administers the lethal injection but how many would do would Jesus did and administer the word of salvation?
Jesus did not come to the righteous, He came to sinners. Paul wrote in Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Have you ever done anything wrong? “Pastor, I have never committed a mass murder.” I didn’t ask that. I asked, have you ever done anything wrong? The Biblical word for wrongdoing is sin. Romans 6:23 gives the penalty for sin. The wages of sin is death. It doesn’t mean you are going to be strapped on a gurney with an intravenous needle into your vein. It is far worse than that. It means you are going to spend your eternal life separated from God. It will make your physical death pale in comparison. A just judge, God, will deal justly with sin according to His word. Just as McVeigh knew the outcome of his crime if he were to be caught, federal law mandates the death penalty. So we also know the outcome for a life of sin, and we will be caught, for eternal law mandates a spiritual death penalty, a place of habitation called hell.
So Jesus comes and says, there is nothing you have done on this side of heaven that I cannot help you through. Do you hear him saying it to you?