The terrorist, formerly known as Jihadi John, has been unmasked this week. He is no longer the faceless front man of Isis, but an actual person. This makes him easier to hate. We can say his name, Mohammed Emwazi, and pray for his death.
However, I want to take this opportunity to really understand what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
It has never really soaked into my mind that the same man who wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4), was the very same man who, in the name of God, threw stones at Christians heads until eventually their skulls cracked open and they died in a pool of blood. It’s nearly impossible for me to visualize Paul, then Saul, brutally imprisoning people because they were of a different faith than him, and years later being imprisoned for believing the very same thing he had sought to destroy.
It was hard for me to understand … until I saw this picture.
A man brutally killing people because of his misguided faith. That describes Mohammed Emwazi and it describes Saul, the once great Pharisee. Listen to his testimony and imagine him with social media outlets and a black hood.
I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished. Acts 22:3-5
Then Saul encountered Jesus. The world was never the same because this evil religious extremist encountered Jesus Christ and became the Apostle Paul. It was because of this extreme evil that Saul was chosen by God. Chosen to be a demonstration. Paul says:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
Jihadi John is a modern day Saul and, despite all he has done, if he were to fall to his knees and cry out to God in the name of Jesus Christ, God would pour out his grace on him. Why? because Jesus loves Jihadi John.
You Are Jihadi John
The reason we find this so unbelievable is because we really don’t get what the Bible says about you and me. We think God somehow loves us or saves us because we are good people. That is a complete misunderstanding of Scripture.
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,not even one.” “Their throats are open graves;their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3: 11- 18
This is a reference to the condition of every human being on earth. If you were born into the life of Mohammed Emwazi, you would make similar godless decisions. When I see this picture … I see me.
Grace and Judgement
Now don’t misunderstand, God loves Jihadi John but if he does not humbly repent and believe in Christ, the full power of God’s wrath awaits him.
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. Acts 17:31
Jihadi John, just like the rest of us, will have to give an account to God. God will simply judge us all by this singular standard…
Does he/she authentically and genuinely, in word and deed, believe that Jesus Christ is the son of the Living God?
In light of this, I can honestly say, there is nothing you have done that can keep you from receiving the grace of Jesus Christ. If Jihadi John and Saul can be forgiven, trust me, you can too. If Saul can become a demonstration of God’s amazing mercy, so can you.
It’s far easier than most people understand. Go to our Next Steps page to learn how.