I understand (I really do) people’s heart and desire to preach the gospel in light of the tragedy at Newtown. However, please be careful and sensitive in the presentation–saying that it all happened because God has been taken out of schools sounds an awful lot like Job’s friends telling him that God was punishing him for his sins.
We are not obligated nor commanded to explain why it happened (since honestly, we don’t know). But we can say with certainty, Jesus loves with unfailing love. Jesus forgives with everlasting forgiveness. And His promise is eternal life, where there are no more tears, no more sorrow, no more suffering.
In this world, no matter what, you will have tribulation. But take heart, Jesus has overcome the world. We have a hope that, in the midst of unexplainable, unthinkable suffering, is an anchor for our soul. That anchor is ready and available for any and for all who call on His name.
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”
Keep them from the evil one
Christians have the confidence of knowing that God will keep them. We have Jesus’ prayer for assurance–the prayer of a righteous man has great power as it is working–and we also have the promise that God will answer His prayer.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3; “The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”
- 1 John 5:18; “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”
- Psalms 121:1-8; “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He owns His sheep, He keeps His sheep, He protects them.
- John 10:8-15; “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
A hired hand flees
If a hired hand watched over Jesus’ sheep, he would surely flee at the first glimpse of danger. Why? Because, Jesus says, he doesn’t own the sheep–he doesn’t care for them. In contrast, Jesus purchased us with His own blood and, consequently, cares for us more deeply than we could ever imagine. He will never flee, He will never run, He will always protect us.
His sheep may go through difficult times. We aren’t excluded from trials and troubles. And though we have the promise of God’s protection, we have seen how he allowed Satan to test Job. But let us be comforted that He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure.
- 1 Corinthians 10:13; “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
God is faithful. He will establish us and guard us against the evil one and He will never allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to endure. Nevertheless, will not put our trust in our strength. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1, “We do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
When it seems God has left us (He hasn’t), when it seems tribulation is greater than we can endure (it will never be), let us follow Paul’s example and rely, not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)”
Jews have no dealings with Samaritans
In his commentary of the Bible, Adam Clarke said of the Jews’ disdain for the Samaritans that they “will not drink out of the same cup or well with them; will not sit down to meals with them, nor eat out of the same vessel; will have no religious connection, no commercial dealings with them.” Though the cultural norm in Jesus’ day was to look down upon women and distance one’s self from Samaritans, Jesus took it upon Himself to approach them and preach the gospel.
He came and preached peace
Every one of us can put ourselves in this woman’s shoes. All of us at one time (if not still today) were separate from Christ, alienated from Israel–without hope, without God in the world. But just as Jesus broke through cultural boundaries in His day to approach this one woman, so too He has come to preach peace to us who were far away from God. His message is simple: through faith in Him–Jesus Christ–we all may approach God being fully at peace with Him through forgiveness by His blood.
- Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
- Ephesians 2:11-18 “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands–remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
More emphatic than the enmity that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans is the enmity between us and God. We, the willfully disobedient creature, have put ourselves at opposition with the one perfect, holy God. He sought to bring peace between us. This He did by breaking down the dividing wall of hostility, abolishing the law of commandments that stood between us, and shedding His blood to provide forgiveness for all sin. He has come to preach peace both to us who are far off and to the Jew who is near showing us the singular way to access the Father: through faith in Jesus Christ.