"The End of Bin Laden

A dripping, blood-red X over the face of Osama bin Laden is the cover for the May 20, 2011, issue of TIME. Only four times in its publishing history has the magazine chosen to red-X the face of a notorious human being: Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi and now Osama bin Laden. The press is still abuzz over the stunning surprise and speed with which “the world’s #1 terrorist” was hunted and killed last week. When late on Sunday night President Obama announced bin Laden’s death to the nation and world, jubilant crowds quickly amassed outside the White House and in New York City to celebrate the death of the September 11 mastermind. Seal Team 6 celebrates its precision execution of the raid—Pakistan protests violation of its sovereignty—and earth marvels over the United State’s relentless and finally successful pursuit of its most-wanted nemesis. And how is it with earth’s Christians? As I watched the jubilation of the crowds, read the editorials and followed the unfolding story, the irony of it all occurred to me—we have found reason to rejoice in the death of another. We party because our enemy has been slain. And who would renounce the strong sense of relief family members of the September 11 victims experienced with the news that the perpetrator of that heinous crime had met his own untimely death? “Justice has been done,” was the President’s somber pronouncement. But does God rejoice in the death of Osama bin Laden? King David fled for his life, when his rebel son Absalom lead a coup d'état in Israel to overthrow his father. But days later when the army of the father overpowered the army of the rebel son and Absalom was slain by a commando team, there was no party back at headquarters. Instead the father king wept: “‘O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!’” (II Samuel 18:33) On hearing the king’s loud lamenting, Joab—David’s commanding general—burst into the royal chamber with the angry charge that the king’s inconsolable weeping was a disgrace to the nation. But was it? Could it be that David’s weeping was a shadowy representation of another Father King? Will God and the universe party when rebel son and fallen angel Lucifer at last suffers eternal death for his ruthless and unrelenting crimes against the kingdom? Or like David, will the Father of us all bow his head in his hands and weep, “If only I could have died in your place?” Will divine love love its enemies, its nemesis enemy, to the very end? Calvary is answer enough, is it not? “‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’” (Luke 23:34). And that is why there will be only one death the universe will ever truly rejoice over throughout eternity: “And they sang a new song . . . ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!’” (Revelation 5:9, 12). It is that death, the death of Christ our Savior, that compels us to love even our enemies. Which is why in the end the only dripping, blood-red X that will matter for any of us, for all of us, is the one atop Calvary. “And they sang a new song.”