At RUF we talk a lot about the the corrupting power and presence of sin. While sin might easily be taken seriously in the moment of a sermon, it is rarely considered in the normalcy of our regular lives...until something blows up. This week, our campus exploded, and though some of us may not call it this, we can clearly see the pain and horror of sin.
I say this with real trepidation, but you and I know we can't live in a world where it's "just sex", because what we saw was little boys who have had not just their bodies, but their soul assaulted. The entire campus has felt tremors of that nightmare. It is crystal clear, one man's sin initiated a tidal wave of sinful actions, which has effected everyone here in Happy Valley. It is almost unexplainable...unless that's how sin in the world really works. Just as this started with one man, our campus is looking for one man to bandage it; a hero. When JoePa was fired (not advocating or defending that here), the man who the campus had always turned to as the hero, was caught right in the middle of it all, and the students were undone. So where do we turn in this broken situation? Our community is ashamed, angry, horrified, and disturbed by the depth of the brokenness surrounding this situation. We want to run, hide, and try to move on. But what if God works not in spite of broken things, but through them? That statement is almost insane to consider were it not for the cross. God's hero in these situations is a broken person. I really believe Jesus' last words on the cross in John's gospel offer us the truth and reality that we need in order to be the redeeming community our campus is so thirsty for.
As Jesus was hanging on the cross close to death, he said "I Thirst". John tells us that in response, Jesus is given a sponge full of sour wine. Jesus, in his incarnation, sympathizes with us. By crying out in thirst (thirst is a packed biblical metaphor for despair and pain), he understands how awful evil and pain in this world really are. We look around at this week with tears and we all want to say "How long oh Lord?" God will answer our cry, but Jesus' cry is answered with bitter wine, he is given the full cup of God's wrath to drink (Jeremiah 25:15-17). It is almost like those at the foot of the cross, heard him cry out and said "Here, suck on this!" And he did. That's basically what we would all like to do to Jerry Sandusky, right? Drag him out to the middle of campus, beat him, humiliate him, and make him suffer the full horror of what has happened. Get this, John is telling us that Jesus went through that, enduring the wrath and punishment for the evil in this world. What that means is that God will NOT stand passively to the side and watch evil get away with anything. God is more enraged by evil than you or me. The cross tells us that the wrath poured out on Jesus is the beginning of the end for hell on earth. We then should reflect this God here and now by standing on His behalf, seeking to rid this world of injustice. However, we must know we never have to take matters of punishment into our own hands. It is not on us to try to make ALL of this right. We can KNOW that God will punish all matters of horrendous injustice. The truth of that proof is God pouring forth His wrath on Jesus. We see that when Jesus cries out on the cross "I thirst." We, and especially the victims in this tragedy, can have incredible hope, knowing that the living God does not stand to the side and say "get over it, move on, or time will heal this", he says "I WILL TAKE CARE OF IT!"
But this truth must be coupled with another astonishing reality, that is that God will judge all things either by Christ or in Christ. The last words Jesus ever spoke were "It is finished." This means that Jesus himself paid the full penalty for his people. His punishment was sufficient for all the sin of those who will believe in him, all of it. This is both encouraging and offensive. All of our horrific thoughts, acts, and desires have been fully punished. However, that tells us we cannot ever draw a line in life distinguishing people by how they live their lives. That line has been drawn by the cross. We are called to be almost absurdly inclusive here. For appropriate reasons, the entire campus has had collective thoughts and prayers for the victims. And dear mercy we should. Our Father in heaven mourns the pain of sin. We should pray for all of them, that they can be healed and redeemed for this horrific act. But who is praying for Jerry Sandusky? Who is praying for Mike Mcqueary? Who is praying for Graham Spanier? For Curley and Schultz? Jesus did not die for good people, but "FOR ENEMIES" (Romans 5:8). Christians are not called to only pray and love for the wounded and broken - but also for our enemies. This is offensive and may make you angry at me, but if Jerry Sandusky humbly asks for forgiveness and repents...we are to not just say "ok", but to rejoice, hug him, and call him "brother". If we say "but he doesn't deserve it, he crossed the line", we have not truly heard Jesus say "IT IS FINISHED." I have 3 little boys for whom I would die. If anyone touched them I can't even speak about what I might do. That is extremely hard for me to say or comprehend. But we are demanded by the cross to pray and fight to the death for the souls of the victims AND Jerry Sandusky (Proverbs 11:30). It is in these most horrific situations that we see the cross magnified, brokenness is what the cross is attracted to. The cross happened for situations like the one that rocked Penn State. We should therefore not run from it, but embrace it ourselves with the glory of the cross. What this campus needs is a community of people willing to face, love, and forgive everything that has happened and all its effects. Only in the cross will you get the power to do that.
People are going to trash this university for a while, and it may get a lot uglier as more and more is discovered. Do not be ashamed or turn on your university. We can rest fully assured in our desire to seek the welfare of this place, because God loves to heal broken things with the cross. For God so loved this university that he gave his one and only son, that whoever - pedophile's included - should believe in him will not be destroyed, but have everlasting life. Why? Because, IT IS FINISHED.