A Story of Scandalous Grace

“God in eternity looked upon me foreseeing my fallenness, my pride, my sin and said, ‘I want that man in My family. I will pay for him to be in My family with My Son’s life.’ That’s love folks. That is mega, off-the-charts love.”
John Piper

April 19, 2013. Jahar lies in a boat in a Watertown backyard, bleeding badly from multiple gunshot wounds. In the past few days, he’s killed four people, injured some 280 or so people, not to mention all the people he’s traumatized mentally. And he’s done it all in the name of a false god. He could easily die here—a wretched, lost, and hell-bound sinner who deserves nothing more than God’s holy wrath.

But in entered grace…

God looked down into that boat and rather than rightfully destroying Jahar, He saw one who would one day become His beautiful, beloved child.

He looked down into that boat, seeing Jahar lying there afraid, on the verge of dying a death he certainly deserved, covered in his own blood, wretched and having committed such unspeakable sin, having written that awful note on the boat proclaiming faith in Allah and allegiance to Muhammad, and in the midst of all that, He loved him.

That is the love of our Father. That is the love of the God who even now continues to pursue Jahar’s heart as he continues to hate Him and cling tightly to Islam.

Even in the midst of this, my Father said, "I love you."

His sins are great, but grace is greater.

But how can this be? How can God simply overlook his sins? How can God ignore the blood on his hands?

He hasn’t.

I recently watched a clip from a sermon by David Platt in which he powerfully conveyed the glorious truth of the Gospel. He says, “We’re sinners, and God is infinitely holy and possesses holy hatred of sin and sinners alike… and He loves sinners. So how is this possible? How can God show wrath towards sinners and love towards sinners at the same time? How can God express the fullness of His attributes, how can He satisfy Himself and save sinners at the exact same time? That is the question of the Bible, and the answer is the Cross.”

He goes on to say, “He absolutely hates sin and sinners and He absolutely loves sinners, and in the Cross we see the full expression of His holy wrath and His holy love coming together in one glorious moment for our salvation. And that is a scandal.”

Scandalous because “you trust in Christ, and your sins are removed.” You trust in Christ. That’s it. No matter your past. No matter what you’ve done. Trust in Christ, and that’s all gone. All of it. Forever.

Yes, that glorious message of the Gospel is even for Jahar. May he one day hear, understand, and embrace it.

“To think that the holy God of the universe has looked upon your life and my life based on the Suffering Servant, and He pronounces, ‘I have absolutely no record of anything ever having gone wrong in your life.’ That is a scandal. Scandalous mercy.”
– David Platt

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3 Responses to A Story of Scandalous Grace

  1. Bri says:

    Due to the boat note and something I know from an inside source, I can’t agree that he’s not clinging to Islam. Also, as a Muslim, I believe he would hate our God, as he would hate our conception of who Jesus is and what he did. And really, by hate, I meant that more in the general sense of by worshiping an idol, he was in a sense hating the one true God. And he did have thoughts about our God, as evidenced by some of his tweets:

    “I meet the most amazing people, spent the day with this Jamaican Muslim convert who shared his whole story with me, my religion is the truth”

    “I kind of like religious debates, just hearing what other people believe is interesting and then crushing their beliefs with facts is fun”

    “my bro left these christian missionaries second guessing their own religion”

    I don’t want to detract from the point of the post, however, so I’ll leave it at that.

  2. brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

    I LOVE THIS. “I want that man in My family.” It gives me chills to read that and to imagine God saying that about Jahar. To see all of that in those pictures in the collage and everything else in my mind…and to think that in the midst of that, God loved him and gave him the chance at eternity with Him…that just blows me away. It also makes me think of that time I was praying and I saw Jesus shielding his body in the boat and saying “Not this one. This one is Mine.” As evidenced by conversations we’ve had with so many people – clearly the Gospel is scandalous. So many people struggle to believe that trusting in Jesus could put someone like Jahar on the “same playing field” as them so-to-speak…but I praise God for His scandalous mercy and grace…that I get to have incredible brothers and sisters whose sins may be worse than mine in the world’s eyes…but whose sins don’t exist anymore just like mine. Also, when I read that his sins are great, but grace is greater…it made me think of one of my favorite songs to pray for him to…”Raised to Life”…because it keeps repeating the line “Sin was strong, but Jesus is stronger.” Jesus is stronger than everything that is standing in the way of Jahar coming to Him. Jesus is going to win.

    • Bri says:

      It also makes me think of that time I was praying and I saw Jesus shielding his body in the boat and saying “Not this one. This one is Mine.”

      That’s still like my favorite thing ever. What a beautiful image. Grace is truly amazing. I still can’t thank God enough for sparing Jahar’s life that night when he clearly shouldn’t have and didn’t deserve to make it out of that boat alive.

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