On February 13th, 2018, a man by the name of Haruna Yahaya, aged 35, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for taking part in the Chibok school girl kidnapping. Yahaya, having a paralyzed arm and a deformed leg, confessed to being a part of the kidnapping; his lawyer, though, asked the judge for leniency, because Yahaya was “forcibly conscripted into the group and he acted under duress.”1 The judge did not agree to leniency, stating that Yahaya still could have chosen not to participate in the kidnapping of these women.1
Reading this article, I can’t help but suspect that Yahaya did act under duress— that he gave in to the pressure and fear around him, and chose to help take his fellow human beings captive. Perhaps I am wrong; perhaps he committed this crime in complete agreement with Boko Haram’s leaders, malice filling his heart. Maybe it was a bit of both; or maybe I shouldn’t even try to look at his motives. After all, only God can see a person’s heart (1 Kings 8:39).
But there are three things that I glean from this, that I feel are worth mentioning:
- How vulnerable all of us are to fear and to outside social pressure,
- That Jesus is fulfilling His Promise, in that those who have caused the Chibok girls suffering will get Justice for their actions; and that
- Perhaps this man is repentant (possibly shown by how he confessed to kidnapping the Chibok girls, and for maybe being under duress); and, because he might be truly repentant, he might now need mercy.
It brings to mind John 8:1-11, when an adulterous woman is brought before Jesus, and the Pharisees try to put Him in a trap. Instead, Jesus tells the Pharisees something very pointed: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, NIV).
It is incredibly important to point out what Dave Miller of Apologetics Press says concerning this passage of scripture:
“this motley crew [speaking about the Pharisees]—with their notorious and repeatedly documented hard-heartedness—would not have been deterred if Jesus simply had conveyed the idea that, “Hey, give the poor woman a break, none of us is perfect, and we’ve all done things we’re not proud of.” These heartless scribes and Pharisees had the audacity to divert her case from the proper judicial proceedings and to humiliate her by forcibly hauling her into the presence of Jesus, thereby making her a public spectacle. …Paul was especially specific on the very point with which Jesus dealt: ‘You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?’ (vs. 22). In other words, [Jesus was saying that] no person is qualified to call attention to another’s sin when that individual is in the ongoing practice of the same sin.”
(Dave Miller, “The Adulterous Woman,” Apologetics Press, words in brackets mine)
At the core, Jesus was not waving away this woman’s sin to show her mercy. He actually dealt quite lawfully with her, and showed her that she wasn’t to be condemned to death because her case, as mentioned by Dave Miller in “The Adulterous Woman,” lacked the necessary requirements for that to happen. Why bring this up? Because Jesus is a God of Law, Order, and Justice—after all, He (being part of the Trinity) created the Law of Moses to begin with.
As this woman is saved from death, Jesus tells her, “’Then neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8:11). Lawfully, Jesus kept her from death—and then told her to completely leave behind the sin (adultery) that put her there in the first place. Jesus did not wave away this woman’s sin in order to show her mercy; He showed her mercy, lovingly telling her the Truth, while plainly seeing her sin.
It is Jesus’ heart for “genuine Justice,” as Christian Rapper Odd Thomas puts it in “The Size of Sin,” that introduced the need for Him to come to earth in the first place. But, in light of the need for true Justice, Jesus also came down to earth out of mercy.
Both Justice and Mercy are borne out of Love. However we have gotten ourselves into sin—whether it would be through thoughtlessness, a genuine mistake, caving in under pressure, or planning it out with exact evil intent, the Gospel shows us that it is God’s desire to both look at the sin committed and bring it to Justice, and to—when one is repentant of their sin—show forgiveness, grace, and mercy to even the worst of sinners.
Whatever this man—and tens, if not hundreds of other men coerced/recruited into Boko Haram—intended to do, they still inflicted pain and created anguish for countless people, causing irrevocable harm. May Jesus show them what their actions have really wrought; and, with hearts that are truly repentant, may they come to Jesus, receiving the forgiveness and mercy only He can offer.
Do you know Jesus?
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ‘I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.’”
(Jeremiah 17:9-10, NIV)
You may intend to be a “good” person, and you may even consider yourself to be very good, enlightened, and spiritual—but yet, you do not know Christ.
Listen: I am not here to call into question whether you are a good person or not. You may be a very wonderful, kind, loving, warm person, with noble motives and ideals!
But, unfortunately, one cannot know God simply by being a great person. God knows our hearts; and no matter how pure and spiritual we may seem, nothing we do will ever be enough to gain eternal life.
Jesus said that the true work of God is to believe in the one He has sent (John 6:29). It’s not about you! Learn more about who it is about—and what He did for you—here.
Prayer Requests (print out a copy of these “Prayer Points” here):
- Please pray for the Chibok girls; that each and every one would be able to come out of Boko Haram captivity, into a free and abundant life, with Jesus as their Lord and Savior (John 10:10)!
- Please pray, even for those who have caused so much evil and suffering. I know this can be one we wrestle with… especially in light of the school shooting that just occurred on February 14th. But I encourage you to be real with Jesus in that completely justified anger and pain.
- Pray that those who are facing worldly Justice would receive their punishment to the fullest extent of the law. Praise Jesus for the fact that He has set law enforcement over us (Romans 13:1)! More about how Christ has instituted law enforcement for our good in another post.
- Please pray for each person who has been so deeply affected by the recent school shootings. Pray that Christ shows Himself to people through it.
Thank you for your prayers!!!