The True Knight Is Risen

I was a senior in high school a little less than one month from graduation during the 1999 Columbine shootings. Even far away from Colorado in my small South Dakota school, where the lockers don’t even lock, we had a sense that everything would be different from here on. Indeed, metal detectors and lockdown drills have taken their place alongside reading, writing, and arithmetic in schools around the country. Few today question the necessity of these precautions as schools continue to top target lists for killers.

We don’t yet know if or how last night’s horrid theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, will change our everyday lives. It’s bad enough the murderous act has taken at least 12 lives so far, wounded 59 others, and scarred countless more who loved these men, women, and children who just wanted to see a blockbuster movie on opening night. The dark confines of a theater now seem like a murderously efficient place to conceal a weapon and spread deadly panic. A night at the movies may never be the same.

Before many even awoke to this tragic news from Aurora, reporters and pundits had already searched for blame beyond the alleged shooter, now in custody. What is his political party affiliation? What are his known beliefs? All of us who lived through Columbine and its aftermath well remember this hunt for explanations and scapegoats. Where were the parents? Who bullied the killers? Who is this Marilyn Manson character? Why are first-person shooter games so popular, and how are they affecting our kids’ brains and behavior? More than a decade later, bullies still prowl school hallways, parents still struggle to understand teenage boys, and video games and musicians still celebrate violence. We learned a lot about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, but we didn’t learn anything new about humanity. Our track record, smeared in blood, speaks for itself.

Now is a time for mourning and comforting the victims. The hunt for blame will not bring the victims back to life. Not even interrogating the alleged killer, while good and necessary, will necessarily result in special insight about the human condition. As President Obama said this morning in Florida in response to the killings, “Even as we learn how this happened and who’s responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this.”

Why? And yet, we cry. What could possibly justify such murder? “Such violence, such evil is senseless,” President Obama said. “It’s beyond reason.”

Indeed. We think if someone could only answer why—by finding fault with gun lobbyists, or theater security, or the Tea Party, or Batman—we might be able to snuff out the source of this violence. Then maybe we’d be safe. But right now, no one can promise you’ll be okay tonight if you decide to see The Dark Knight Rises. One Aurora victim even escaped a shooting last month at a Toronto mall, only to die shortly after tweeting friends last night about her excitement for the movie to begin. This might be the scariest thought about this random killing spree, which follows many others in varied settings in countries around the world: Authorities will promise to do everything in their power to ensure our safety. But in the end, no one can guarantee our security.

Scary World

Our ancestors lived in a world like this. At any moment they might succumb to a disease no one yet understood. Or become collateral damage in a war they didn’t start. Or suffer starvation when the skies withheld their rain. The patriarchs of the Old Testament lived in such a world. So did the apostles of the New Testament. So did Jesus.

Not even the Son of God escaped gruesome, torturous death. He lived in a world where religious leaders conspired with political tyrants to kill so-called enemies who made the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise, and the poor rejoice over good news (Matt. 11:5). He was not safe and secure in this world. In fact, he said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head (Matt. 8:20).

And yet this man, not even welcome in his hometown (Luke 4:24), could point to those same birds of the air and see reason to trust in our heavenly Father, who feeds them, “who neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn” (Luke 12:24). So when his season of sorrow approached, when one of his closest friends handed him over to evil men, he could say to his heavenly Father, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus knew exactly who to blame for his impending execution. He stared into the faces of the chief priests and scribes who sought his death. He answered to Pilate, who signed his death sentence. And yet, when he looked out on these murderers from the excruciating elevation of the cross, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

No cry of why will satisfy our search for a reasonable explanation to the horrors of this age. But the God-man who cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” comforts us in our grief (Matt. 27:46). Even more, his unjust death and ultimate triumph in resurrection is the very means by which we can begin even now to enjoy never-ending peace with the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3).

Jesus had no illusions about why the nations rage. They rage in their sin, against their God, going so far as to put God in human flesh to death. But such evil plots in vain, because the ascended Jesus promises to return in justice. He will hold his and the Aurora movie theater’s murderers to account. And he will usher in the safety and security of the new heavens and new earth for all who believe in him.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

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  • Wesley

    Appreciate this thoughtful post Colin. It can be, at times, even harder of those who believe in the exhaustive sovereignty of God, to see what seems so senseless and violent knowing that God could have stopped this act and chose not to. I don’t think the other side of the coin gives any MORE hope however,as then you’re left with a helpless deity who “really wants to help more” but is powerless to do so. I was reminded when i first heard of this of Prov. 16:4 where it says, “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”
    May God’s peace reign in this madness and may He use us to “comfort those with the comfort we have all been given in Him.” amen.

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  • Nathan

    I cannot imagine how the families/friends are suffering. God is not to blame for such evil. In actuality, it is all the more reason to trust in Jesus Christ. Why? Well he told the truth, not once did He hide the fact that the human heart is entirely corrupt. Unless God had not interviened for us, dying on that cross in our place, we would all still be spiritually dead, no better-off than any murderer. So yeah we need to pray, for the victim’s families especially, that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard their hearts and minds in Chrsit Jesus (Phil. 4:7). To pray for the perpetrator even, for the gospel is the power of God to save anyone (Rom 1:16), whether we understand or not. And since we will all have to give an account of our lives one day, we need to pray for ouselves and for each other, that we would not be “overcome by an evil heart of unbelief, leading us to fall away from the living God (Heb. 3:12), that we would not think of ourselves as “good” when, at our core, we are all bad people without the saving grace of Jesus Christ and His imputed righteousness. That we would continue to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), drawing others into the everlasting kingdom which God Almighty has promised even the gates of hell will not prevail against (Mat.16:18) and death shall be no more through the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:55-56).

  • David

    “A night at the movies may never be the same.”

    I hope it is, though. It sounds cold-hearted, but we really need to learn as a society that every tragedy does not need a piece of legislation named after it. This is a sin filled world, and tragedies will occur no matter what we do. We should not give up another freedom, or accept another inconvenience, every time we witness a great evil. No one, no new law, can guarantee our safety.

  • Tim

    Sarah, I assume you are referring to Christ judging the Grace-rejecting world. A judge justly sentencing criminals is not tragedy unless you despise justice. Further, you seem to be conflating a murderer acting out his evil fantasies with a good Creator rightfully executing justice on wicked people. There is quite clearly no comparison unless you misunderstand hell as some torture chamber for innocent people. That would be theological error and no one believes that. The issue is that God has rightly found the world guilty.

    The good news is the Ruler and Judge, who is also the offended party, came in love and took the full measure of justice on himself in place of the guilty party, so that offenders who trust in Him would receive shocking mercy.

    • vittoria-blue


  • RN

    The thing puzzling to me, that not many Christians seem to comment about, is the strange, dark trend of people (Christians included) who are going out to midnight premieres to see nihilistic, morally black films like this, or occultish Harry Potter films, etc) at the sinister hour of midnight, to watch a film like this that glorifies violence (e.g. Joker with a slashed face, Two-face disfigured with grotesque gore, etc.) and there’s nothing at all debatable or questionable about this practice. To me, there’s something disturbingly satanic about using the midnight hour to participate in viewing something so sinister, that when a violent crime takes place at a theater at this timeframe, in a sad way, this seems to be of the same, dark nature as the film itself.

    • mel

      Funny I thought the demonic hour was when people got up at 4am to buy a whole bunch of material things the day after Thanksgiving. kidding

      We can heap all kinds of criticism on the dead and wounded but it comes really close to sounding like “serves you right for being there”. I don’t think anyone wants to go there. We have freedom in Christ and we each have to answer for our own choices.

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  • Laura

    I too, was a senior in high school in spring 1999. I was home sick that day, and had an eerie, sad feeling that day as I watched the news. I remember thinking the same as you did, how something had changed. Things have been unraveling in our culture throughout our lifetime, and while these killings are a result of sinful man apart from Christ, I do pray for this “unraveling” of our society to end. I pray for repentance and revival to sweep the nation and through that the culture will be ”┬áre” formed once again. Thanks for the article.

  • vittoria-blue

    I’m watching CBS’ “48 hour Mystery”. It’s a special about Aurora’s tragedy! Do not to miss Pierce’s AWESOME testimony! To Him be all the glory! Amen!

  • Rose Gilley

    The True Knight has risen,indeed. When he returns to set up His Kingdom He will make ALL things right.

  • Rose Gilley

    The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it. Jerimah.

  • Sean Newmn

    Collin- thanks for the post. I was a junior at a high school near Columbine at the time of that tragedy and still live in Colorado about 10 minutes from the theater. Now I work for Dare 2 Share Ministries and we put together a resource for people last Friday to help bring the gospel up in the midst of the tragedy. Check it out at I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

  • Clarice

    Thanks for this reminder of HOPE in JESUS!

    I was a freshman in HS in 1999 and only a few minutes from Columbine that day…

    One of my family members, still in CO, said that it “felt like Columbine” around town the morning after the theater shootings–heavy, depressing, hushed, bristling. I’m living a thousand miles away from CO these days but I’ve been shedding tears for my home state since Monday. And praying that the unstoppable Gospel goes forward in the wake, as it always does.

    • Sean Newmn

      Clarice, I would agree with what your family said about the feel in CO that day and through the weekend actually. The city hasn’t fully recovered from what happened in 1999 and a mass tragedy like this is like opening the scab again. PLEASE continue to pray, especially for the body of Christ to be united as they serve those who are hurting in the community. Blessings, Sean

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