Humans have been killing each other since the dawn of time. Abel's blood cried out to God from the ground after his very own brother, murdered him in the beauty of a newly created earth.
"Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him," Genesis 4:8.
According to the Bible, Cain had been raised in a perfect neighborhood, or at least its suburbs. He had loving parents, who were hard working farmers and nature enthusiasts. They weren't perfect, but they loved each other and were productive, worshipping members of their small town community. In a short discourse before his act of violence, Cain had a highly educated, professional and potentially enlightening but unproductive counseling session with his Creator:
"Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it," Genesis 4:6-7.
It was to no avail, Cain, killed.
Jesus talked a fair amount about the brutal heart of humanity and dialed in on the epicenter of the world's harvest of evil atrocities, the sinful heart. In times of shocking horror, we struggle to accept the reality of evil. We look for reasons and excuses from within and without. We try to deflect the fearful truth by wrestling justifications out of the various askew elements of life or the possible brokenness of one of those systems.
Jesus judged it clear:
"Murder comes from within, not from without a man," Jesus (Mark 7:20-23).
Out of all the things Jesus could of spent talking about during his short teaching years, he took some of that precious time to talk about those who sin against children. His words were potent with ultimate, unavoidable justice:
"Jesus had a few choice words for those who hurt children, He said it would be better to be strangled and drowned in the sea," Luke 17:2.
The Apostle John peered into the future and had a tour of that final court session:
"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books," Revelations 20:12.
John summed up his visit to humanity's final days with these words:
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood," Rev. 22:14-15.
As I wrestle through the emotional, theological and cultural aftermath of events as horrific as what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary, I find peace in the words of Jesus before, during and after the cross. Too offer people anything less than this biblical narrative always seems to leave me unable to process my own inner sense of right and wrong or the truth of God's love and justice.