Lessons from the Boston Marathon Tragedy

by Steven Chan

Three lives were taken away and many more were maimed due to explosions at the finishing line of the Boston Marathon this past week. As the people of the USA and the family members of those who have been affected by these explosions grapple with this tragedy, it would be good for us to consider what the Bible has to say to us about such a sad event.

1. Many wonder why such a senseless thing has to happen. What was the underlying cause of such violence?  It ought to remind us of the tragedy of sin and what it has done to mankind. After sin entered the world when the first man disobeyed God’s commandment, the first murder was committed when Cain rose up against his brother, Abel and killed him – because Cain was upset that his offering to God was not accepted whereas the offering of Abel was accepted. One wonders why Cain should be upset with his brother when Abel did not do anything to provoke him or sabotage his offering. It made no sense – just as it made no sense to take away the lives of those innocent victims.  But that’s what happens when man chose to do what he pleased without regard to the way and will of God. Rom 5:12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”. 1 John 3:4: “sin is the transgression of the law.” Isa 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way”. In an increasingly lawless society (i.e. having no regard for God’s law; each doing what he wants or whatever pleases himself), such violence and senseless acts can be expected to continue. The Bible declares in Rom 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Whatever may have been the reason for the perpetrators of the violence, it is a result of disregarding the instructions of our Creator: Hatred has filled the lives of these perpetrators of violence instead of God’s command to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34-35).

2. It reminds us of the urgency of bringing the gospel to all men so that they may forsake the way of the world and embrace the good news from our Creator that He loves us and desires to bless us – and that we can enjoy a meaningful and purposeful life in the family of God looking for the blessed hope of heaven after our life here on earth is ended.

Titus 2:11-15: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”

God wants to redeem us from every lawless deed. The perpetrators of these acts of violence needed to be redeemed. We need to understand the relevance of the gospel in the lives of our friends and loved ones today, and we need to feel the urgency of sharing the gospel with them. The Bible encourages us to speak these things and not to let any one despise us for speaking these things.

Rom 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Those perpetrators needed to know that there is hope from God if they accept His free gift of salvation and walk in His path. Rom 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” 2 Cor 4:16-18: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

3. The incident also reminds us that death is no respecter of persons – whether a nine year old or thirty year old – death comes at any time. James 4:13-15: “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

We should not live here on earth as if we have a guarantee of tomorrow. Prov 27:1: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

4. Death is certain and eternity is forever but there is hope from our Creator: Heb 9:27-28: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

We need to know where we are going after we leave this world. Phil 3:20-21: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

The good news is that Jesus has overcome death when He Himself rose from the dead after three days in the grave. The empty tomb of Jesus testifies of His resurrection – and that is the foundation of our hope after this life. Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”(Rom 1:4).

If we do not wish to be overly-grieved when we are separated from our loved ones then we should share with them the hope of the resurrection – the great reunion that awaits us all when we will all be raised up at the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”(1 Thess 4:13-18).

Because He lives, we shall live also! What a tremendous hope! Why won’t we share this wonderful news and hope with our friends and loved ones – while there’s yet opportunity and time.