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06 April 2012

Love and rescue

Love and rescue

Dark must be the forces that drive people to kill members of their own families. The bonds of love which we expect to exist between relatives should surely be stronger than the urge to murder. But yet a few headlines this week have reminded us of the darkness of parricide and left us simply asking 'why'.

On Tuesday, the wife and daughter of Don Banfield, 63, were convicted of his murder. Lynette Banfield, 40, and her mother Shirley Banfield, 64, both received life sentences at the Old Bailey. The pair killed him because he had signed a contract to sell the family home.

Monday saw 15-year-old Daniel Bartlam found guilty of murdering his mother Jacqueline, 47, with a hammer before setting her body on fire after an argument.

And over the weekend, we remembered Marvin Gaye, who was shot and killed by his own father on 1 April 1984. The Motown singer would have celebrated his 73rd birthday on Monday.

Marvin Gay Sr was sentenced to a six-year suspended sentence and five years probation for voluntary manslaughter. In an interview with the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, he said: "I didn't mean to do it."

And then we think of Our Heavenly Father who "gave His only son" to be killed by evil men, for us. On purpose. The crucifixion we remember this Good Friday was not a 'senseless' killing. God used the death of His son to atone for our sins. It was not without reason. The Father and the Son did mean to do it. Here was not a rash, tempestuous act resulting in mere bloodshed, violence and regret. Instead, the cross was a master plan, devised from before time began – to reconcile us to God.

It makes us uncomfortable. Our non-Christian friends may ask why we describe as 'Good' the day our saviour was put to death in the most humiliating and excruciating of tortuous rituals. And as the bloodied images flash before our eyes we feel the guilt of his taking upon himself our iniquities; and we ask God whether He loves us that much that He would have His son die in our place. And He says yes. And we remember Christ crucified: the willing sacrifice; whose love for us compelled him to give "himself for our sins" (Galatians 1:4).

This was not futile filicide but the greatest story of love and rescue ever told.

It's the Greek να (hina) in John 3:16 that reminds me that there was a point to all this. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son so that whosoever believes in Him may not die but have eternal life."

Christ's death is in order that we who are sinful can be reconciled to the holy, perfect and just God who loves us. The story doesn't end when Jesus says: "It is finished." There is something more to come. It's only through Christ's crucifixion on Friday that he can rise from the dead on Sunday. It's only through the sorrow of Good Friday that we can find joy, hope and new life on Easter Sunday.

"Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
(1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Chine Mbubaegbu, editor, Evangelical Alliance