CNN has asked the question, “Is it morally right to celebrate bin Laden’s death?” It is a good question, even if CNN doesn’t answer it well. How should we respond to the death of an enemy? Specifically, how should those who love and follow Christ respond to justice? First, our goal must be to always seek and show the mind of Christ. We want to think and react the way Jesus would. To do this, we must carefully distinguish between the death of the wicked and the execution of justice. God takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23) and we are to follow suit (Pro. 24:17). But God takes great delight and receives great glory in justice (Ps. 10:17-18); so Christians can rightly rejoice in justice. In fact, one of the most powerful scenes in Scripture is just that: in Revelation 19, following the fiery destruction of wicked Babylon, the great multitude cries out for joy “Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute…and has avenged on her the blood of his servants!” So we are right to rejoice in justice–God is holy and injustice is an assault to his moral beauty. When justice wins, let us praise the Lord.
True rejoicing in justice should lead us to rejoice also in the cross of Christ. It is at the cross where we see what we have earned. It is at the cross where justice was met for our sins and our sinfulness. But it is also there where our punishment is suffered with infinite grace by a perfect substitute. It is at the cross where “righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Ps. 85:10). So when we see someone truly getting what they deserve, let us also rejoice that Jesus took what we deserved.
And while we rejoice that Jesus is our propitiation, suffering justice so we might know peace, Christians should finally be led this week to pray earnestly that many of our enemies will come to the same experience of justice we know. We can love our enemies by contending for their souls in prayer and missions.
Like many areas of true discipleship, responding properly to justice is both a great challenge and a great opportunity to show Jesus to our families and neighbors. May God give us the grace to follow Jesus in loving justice, hating evil and loving our enemies!