Serial and the Gospel

Like so many others, I have been caught up in the story of Adnan Syed who was convicted to life in prison in 1999, at the age of 17, for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. For the past 11 weeks the host, Sarah Koenig (a producer of the also popular This American Life), has taken her listeners on an entertaining journey investigating whether or not Syed, who has always maintained his innocence, is truly guilty. The podcast is well produced and Koenig is doing all she can to determine whether or not Syed is telling the truth. However, with only one episode left, it has essentially devolved into speculation about whether or not Syed was capable of murder. So much of the information that Koenig is able to now gather is subjective or based on 15 year old memories. It is looking doubtful that Koenig will be able, with just one episode remaining, to objectively come to a conclusion on whether or not Syed murdered Lee. However, I can objectively say, based on the authority of the Word of God, that Syed was capable of committing murder.

Let me be clear, I am not merely giving my opinion on this specific case. In fact, if you pushed me, I would have to say that I’m inclined to believe that he is innocent (at least innocent of the murder). However, he was capable. If you have listened to all 11 episodes as I have you will have heard the refrain over and over from people who knew Syed at the time that he was such a good kid and they could not understand how he would have been capable of such a thing. This shows a serious misunderstanding of human beings and the depth of our sin. Most of us will never take a life, but we are all capable. That’s the extent of our depravity. Jesus actually asserted that we are all murderers when he said in Matthew 5:21–22 that when you hate someone you have murdered them in your heart. In that sense then we have all murdered. We must be careful here though. By saying this, Jesus is not lessening the seriousness of taking another’s life. Rather, he is showing the true seriousness and extent of our sin. You may not ever (and I hope you never) take someone’s life, but you are already guilty of murder. So is Syed, whether or not he killed Lee. And the only hope for him, for you, and for any murderer is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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