My heart goes out to the families of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. I do not agree with the death penalty and yet it happened. I believe that the pair died with dignity – the dignity of knowing Jesus Christ. According to the Sydney Morning Herald they faced their judgement united in songs to him.
I find this challenging. Here were men who when faced with death thought first of God. If I were in their situation would my attitude be the same? I am inspired by their actions and I am not alone. Matt Redman, the writer of one of the songs they sang, tweeted ‘I don’t think there was ever a more powerful version of this song.’ He is right. Through their deaths these men have made a clear testimony of the God who brings comfort and peace even in the very face of death. What a powerful statement.
These men were not martyrs. They were not executed because of their belief in God. It was during their time in jail that they came to know God. Andrew Chan and Myurun Sukumaran were imprisoned because they carried drugs into Indonesia. Under Indonesian law this is punishable by death and despite their rehabilitation, their influence with other prisoners, and the calls of clemency from the Australian government, the sentence was carried out. I cannot condone this sentence as a Christian especially in light of the mercy God has shown me.
I am torn because the Bible is clear that it supports the death penalty. Its message is that God’s judgement of sin is death. This doesn’t change. All must face judgement and we are never let off with a lighter sentence. Yet God is merciful. He has allowed for our death to be paid by another, his Son. Nearly 2000 years ago outside Jerusalem Jesus also died, innocent, facing the judgement of his Father for us. That’s right, the hand of God’s judgement fell on us but it was met by Jesus.
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran may have felt Indonesia’s hand of judgement fall upon them but they knew that God’s hand of judgement has fallen on Jesus. So although they faced death on the day of their execution they did so knowing they faced the gift of life from God, the life that can be never taken away.